Interview tips for Teacher Education programmes

Use these tips to ensure you make the best impression in your interview.

Preparing yourself

Congratulations on making it to the interview stage. With a little preparation, you can make sure you make a positive impression at your interview.

Think about how to answer the following questions:

  • Have you worked with children in any context? Be prepared to talk about your experiences. What is it about these experiences that has led you to apply?
  • Think about what makes you suitable to be a teacher and how you could tell someone about this.
  • Consider what you think the qualities of effective teachers are. Why do you believe this?
  • Make yourself aware of the important current issues in education. What is in the media?
  • Think about what factors outside the classroom setting may be important in children’s learning, e.g., whānau (extended family), culture, social issues.
  • Find out about the Vulnerable Children Act and think about the responsibility a teacher has in providing a safe environment.


  • Visit an early childhood centre, state primary or secondary school before your interview, preferably for a whole day or at least a morning. Contact your local school/centre and tell them you are interested in teaching as a career and would like to visit the school/centre to observe a teacher or teachers. Choose the school/centre most applicable for the programme you are applying for. Most schools are used to being contacted and are happy to organise a visit.
  • It is important to spend time in the school/centre during a normal day. While time at after- school activities or on trips is important, it is not as valuable as the time observing teachers teaching.
  • Watch carefully when you're doing an observation. Focus on what the teacher(s) and children are doing.
  • Think about the similarities and differences to your own schooling. Be prepared to talk about your experience in the interview.
  • Do you have the commitment to complete the programme? What changes may you need to make to be ready?

If it is not possible to visit a centre/school, then you should familiarise yourself with some key documents about education in New Zealand. If you are applying for Early Childhood, please look at Te Whāriki, the ECE curriculum. If you are applying for primary or secondary teaching, please look at the New Zealand Curriculum. All applicants should also look at an overview of the New Zealand education system and Ka Hikitia: the Māori education strategy for New Zealand education.


The interview

Before the interview

  • Dress appropriately - this is a professional interview. What would a School Principal, Centre Manager or parent think about how you present yourself?
  • If an unfortunate circumstance prevents you from attending, or you're going to be late, let the University know as soon as possible.
  • Get to the interview venue with at least 20 minutes to spare. This will enable you to meet the other applicants and find out about each of them. You may be asked to introduce another applicant. Think about what you might ask them and what you might say about yourself.

During the interview

  • Respond relevantly to questions, be honest and brief.
  • Use language that is appropriate in a professional situation. The interviewers will be looking at your communication skills.
  • The interview is about finding out about how you think. Try to answer all questions in full, explaining your ideas and justifying them.
  • If you are unsure about a question you can ask for it to be repeated or clarified. If you want to go back to a question and add some more information then tell your interviewer(s).
  • If there is something you really want your interviewer(s) to know about you, tell them, even if they don’t ask the right question.
  • Try to have a question or two of your own prepared beforehand so that you can show your interest if they ask if there's anything else you'd like to know.

Although interviews can be nerve-wracking, remember that they're trying to get the best out of you and aren't trying to catch you out. Smile, be friendly and make eye contact.

Good luck!