Posted by: April | March 21, 2011

Did you hear the story about the peacock who crossed the road?…It’s a really colourful tail

Hello there! I realise it’s been a while since my last blog but I do have a good reason. I wanted to write about tips for a PGCE interview but I wanted to wait until I knew if they had worked for me before I passed them on to you guys! As it turns out I must have done something right because I received a conditional offer. I could write endless tips about PGCE interviews but I’m going to stick to three which I believe helped the most for me. 

Let me set the scene. I have always been advised, especially in an interview setting, to be punctual in order to show your enthusiasm.  However, arriving 45 minutes before the interview began may have been a little excessive.  Picture this… you’re alone in a room where chairs out number you 20 to 1, your only weapon being the essay you have prepared in your bag.  When suddenly… another candidate arrives… thank goodness!! Or not… it’s actually the interviewer and he looks as shocked to see you as you were to have arrived 45 minutes early! He nicely pointed me in the direction of a coffee shop to kill some time; a normal person would have taken this hint… but not me! I chose instead to sit through the awkwardness of being alone in the room for another 20 minutes before the first other candidate arrived. Retrospectively, being not just the first one there, but blatantly the first one there wasn’t ideal; however it did work to my advantage.  The rest of the day the interviewer joked about me being so overly eager to the group, which was slightly cringe worthy, but the joke was on him as there I was.. smack bang implanted into his memory before any of the other 20 candidates.

Tip one:  make yourself stand out… AKA “Peacocking”

Showing up that early was a little awkward but it set me apart from the other 20 candidates.  I wore all black smart trousers and blouse – my shoes however were shocking purple court shoes.  I’m not saying go all out here and show up in a superman outfit or something, just make sure that you make an impact.  Little things are important  too, like keeping eye contact, smiling and showing enthusiasm.

Tip two: Make an effort with the other candidates.

The people you’re sitting with aren’t just your competition; some of them will be your future classmates and colleagues.  If you are successful and become a teacher do you really think it will be acceptable not to acknowledge a student just because you don’t take a shine to them?  The interviewers’ will expect potential teachers to be approachable and friendly with everyone they meet and in all situations. Also, a word of caution, attempting to show up other candidates in an interview will not get you well liked, just because the interviewers ask you to critique lesson plans made by other candidates, this does not translate to “criticise every other lesson plan made but your own”.  Someone tried this in my interview and the result was him having 20 candidates hammer into him when it was his turn… oh and he had no-one to sit with at dinner time!

Tip three: know your area well

Do research online into what type of questions you will be asked. “Why do you want to teach?” and “what experience do you have?” are obviously going to come up, but questions specific to your PGCE course can often be found online.  Not only will this, but they expect you to be clued up on current affairs which relate to teaching. Changes in government education policies are something you should be aware of, even if not asked directly about them you can mention them in other answers you give.  Also, do not just tell interviewers about any experience you have gained, but explain how it has influenced you. For example, it is becoming increasingly difficult to teach in a 6th form as double the amount of students now stay on due to their being no other options in the job market, this means coping with larger class sizes and less motivated students.  I wouldn’t have known this without my experience within the 6th form.

So there we have it, three basic tips which apparently worked for me, whether I actually accept the offer to do the course or not … well that’s another blog.

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