Special Education Interview Guide

There are many good reasons to become a special education teacher. This post seeks to ensure you are ready for a special education interview in 2019. One of the most asked questions by applicants is “What should I expect from a teaching interview?” hopefully we can answer that here.

SEN is a great field to work in, here is an article about why NQT’s should become special school teachers. Whether you are a newly qualified teacher or an experienced educator, we will be able to help you secure positions working in one of the most rewarding sectors of UK education.

Becoming a Special Education Teacher.

Teaching in a special school can be really beneficial to your career. Many mainstream schools educate children with a high level of additional need, therefore, you will have the experience to draw upon. Teaching in special education requires a number of unique skills that you can apply in mainstream schools as well. 

special education interview quote

After spending my career in special schools I have been interviewed for a number of teaching and leadership positions. This year I have conducted interviews for Teachers and Teaching Assistants within special education. The interview questions here come directly from this experience.

In this article, I will outline some of the potential special education teaching interview questions you will be asked. Also suggested are some things you might want to plan to talk about in your interview.

Special Education Interview Preparation.

If you have not worked in a special school before you need to do a bit of work to show your knowledge of issues in SEN is up to scratch. Here are 5 potential activities that should help you prepare.

5 Pre-Interview Preparation Tips.

  1. Have a case study in mind around a child with SEN in your current class. If you are an NQT this can be from your placements. If you are applying for a teaching assistant position and you haven’t got experience working in a special school then try to link it to personal experience. Think about how you have supported them to be included, what challenges they have faced and how you have adapted your teaching style to remove barriers to learning.
  2. Read up on current thinking and practice. I would recommend following SEN educators on Twitter:- Here is a list of recommended SEND specialists to follow. This post is a roundup of recent SEND education blogs that are worth a read.
  3. Visit with an enquiring eye. A think a pre-interview visit to any school is essential, just try to arrange it whilst the pupils are in. When you are having the tour try and pick up on the little details, what communication methods are being used. Are there any elements of the environment that seem unique? Remember that if you are shown a particular area it is because the host is proud of it. Why? What are the initiatives that it links to? Always ask questions that give you clues about teaching and learning – How do teachers use this space? Do all classes access this? How does sensory room use link to curriculum planning?
  4. How do your personal or professional values and teaching ethos fit in with those of the school you are applying for? For example, if you are a zero-tolerance, sit and listen, teacher, I doubt special education is for you. Have a review of the website and policies and think about how aspects of these match your views. You can quote key sections in your application and interview.
  5. Schools and special education is full of jargon and acronyms, you don’t need to know all of these however the following glossary might help.

Special Education Interview Questions

SEND Specific Safeguarding Questions

  • What additional challenges do our pupils face when interacting with peers outside of school? (County lines/grooming link)
  • What signs of abuse/radicalisation should we be especially mindful of with our pupils?
  • In your view describe the is the biggest barrier our pupils face in reporting concerns?
  • What strategies would you employ to develop pupil’s awareness of keeping themselves safe?
  • How would you create an environment where safeguarding is your team’s primary concern?
  • What skills is it essential for our pupils to learn?
  •  How can we support our pupils to be safe online why is this particularly important for our pupils?

Other Special Education Interview Questions.

  • What teaching methods do you prefer and why?
  • How would support a learner with bereavement/life challenges that affected their learning?
  • When did you first develop an interest in working in a special school?
  • What specific teaching methods are effective with our pupils?
  • How would you develop an effective individual lesson plan (IEP)?
  • What would you do with your pupils to enhance communication and interaction?
  • How would you prepare learners for transitions?
  • Tell me about a time you have demonstrated high expectations for an SEN learner.
  • Why do you think inclusive education is essential?
  • How are you going to ensure that each pupil feels included in all activities?
  • Which other staff members do you plan to collaborate with?
  • How would you adapt a daily lesson plan to meet the needs of all your pupils?
  • Which teaching resources would you use in the classroom to support learning?
  • What have you done to improve your special education knowledge?
  • Describe your perfect SEN friendly classroom.
  • How do you build strong relationships with parents?
  • Give me an example of a time you have worked in partnership with a parent to overcome a problem.
  • How would you build resilience within your team (TA’s)?
  • What behavioural approaches have you found effective?
  • How do you use technology to support learning?
  • Tell me about a time you implemented a program (such as OT) developed by an external professional. 
  • Why do SEN learners require the best teachers?

Application Form specific Questions

It is likely that the interview panel will bring up aspects of your application form to clarify or question. You can predict some of these by leaving a “hook” in your form. This might be in the form of teasing some interesting fact or writing about an initiative but leaving some key information.  Leaving something out gives you room to expand on an area you are confident in.

The Hook/Teaser

For example, I put that I run a teaching blog and left it that opening up an area for later dialogue.  You might like to try a teaser such as “I enjoyed collaborating on a mini-research project into our provision for SEN learners with another teacher.” They will then ask about the focus, implementation and what you did with the findings etc, however, don’t leave out anything important!

The interview panel will definitely ask about any discrepancies between your application and the person specification of the job role. So if there is an area you know you don’t meet try and show that you have identified this and sort to rectify the issue. This might be simply a case of reading up on that niche. In my case, it was working with PMLD learners, for instance, I was able to quote some research and a book I have read. I was also lucky enough to have been able to visit a special school and do a learning walk involving this area of need. Reach out and people will want to share their knowledge similarly if you can help someone then share your skills.

Most importantly let your passion for the role shine through. Good luck with your special education interview! 

Special education interview questions

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