Preparing for online initial teacher education interviews

John Parkin

Faculty: Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care
School: School of Education and Social Care
Course: Accelerated Primary Education Studies BA (Hons)
Category: Education

24 November 2020

Students in a library

Students on our Accelerated Primary Education Studies course are busy preparing for interviews to start initial teacher education courses.

I am really proud of what they have accomplished in a very challenging year due to Covid-19. As it can be expected, most initial teacher education interviews have now moved online. I thought it might be useful to share some thoughts on how to prepare for the process.

Getting the setting right

Think about where you are going to set up your computer for the interview. You should aim to have a plain, neutral background so that the interviewers aren’t distracted by anything behind you! If it’s hard to find a neutral background, remember Zoom and Teams offer a custom background feature.

Aim to have a quiet environment, so you don’t get distracted by dogs barking or small children interrupting the interview! If you live with people, make sure they know when you have the interview. If animals or children are going to try and join you, see if you can get somebody to take them out of the house for a while.

How are you going to position the camera? You don’t want the camera to be looking up your nose, so have the camera at eye level or slightly above.

Remember to look at the camera on your computer so you are making eye contact with the interviewers during the interview. If you might forget to do this, you could try putting a small sticker next to the camera to remind you.

Remember that in the interview you might get thirsty (or want to have a sip to get some more thinking time!), so have a glass of water ready for the interview.

Can you hear me?

Each video conferencing software package has its own idiosyncrasies! Therefore, make sure you are familiar with Zoom or Teams or whatever the interviewer is using.

How do you log onto the software? How do you turn the sound and camera on and off? Can you raise your hand virtually for a group discussion? Can you share a document with the interview panel?

You might also want to use headphones to help improve audio quality.

Let me tell you a story …

You might be asked to read a story to the interview panel. Take some time to think how you will position yourself and the book so they can see both you and the book. Film yourself sitting and reading the book to check how you look and to confirm that the interviewers can see you. This will give you a chance to check if your tone of voice, speed and intonation are coming over well. Are you going to point to any words or pictures? Are you going to give the characters voices? Are you going to do any actions as you read to help your audience understand the story?

Time for a group discussion

You might have to do a group discussion as part of the interview, too. Check to see if you should be using the virtual hand to indicate you want to say something. Remember to keep your camera on throughout the group discussion and remember that that the interview panel will be seeing what you are doing when others are talking. Are you looking interested? Are you nodding in agreement?

Computer says no …

I can appreciate that you might be worried that there might be a technical problem on the day. The interview panel will be aware of this and will be worried a technical issue could affect them, too! If something goes wrong, the interviewers will be sympathetic. However, remember you can take a few steps to reduce the chance of problems.

Make sure your computer is fully charged and plugged in.

Double check your computer won’t start any updates in the middle of the interview.

Remind people you might live with you have an online interview and ask them not to start streaming Netflix if your Wi-Fi isn’t the best!

And finally…

Good luck with your online interview! Remember that you have already got through shortlisting, so they must have seen something they liked in your application!


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