Landing a job can be challenging. There are many different types of interviews that you may encounter during your career. If you are looking for a job in special education, the SEN interview will assess your skills, qualifications and suitability for a position in this particular education specialism.
In order to help you prepare, we have compiled a list of 25 common SEN interview questions. We will also provide tips on how to answer them effectively!
- Tell me about yourself. This is usually one of the first questions asked in an interview, and it can be challenging to know how to answer it. You want to give a brief overview of your qualifications and experience without going into too much detail. Keep your answer under two minutes.
- Why are you interested in this position? This is your chance to sell yourself and explain why you would be the perfect fit for the job. Make sure to highlight your qualifications and experience, as well as your passion for special education.
- What do you know about special education? This question is designed to assess your level of understanding about the field of special education. Explain what you know about IEPs, services available for students with disabilities, and how best to work with students with special needs.
- How would you work with a student who has ADHD? This question is designed to assess your understanding of ADHD and best support students with this disorder. Explain the strategies you would use in the classroom, such as providing clear instructions, breaking down tasks into smaller steps, and using visual aids.
- How would you deal with a parent who is angry and upset? This question is designed to assess your ability to deal with difficult situations. Explain how you would diffuse the situation, listen to the parent's concerns, and work together to find a solution.
- What do you think are the essential qualities for a special education teacher? This question is designed to assess your understanding of crucial qualities for a successful special education teacher. For example, explain why you think patience, creativity, and dedication are crucial to this job.
- Do you have any questions for us? This is your opportunity to ask questions about the position, the school, or anything else you want to know. Make sure to ask thoughtful questions that show your interest in the job.
- What are your thoughts on inclusion? This question is designed to assess your views on inclusion and whether you think it benefits students with disabilities. Explain your views on inclusion and how you would work with students in an inclusive classroom.
- How do you handle a situation when you don't know the answer to a question? This question is designed to assess your problem-solving skills. Explain how you would research the answer, ask for help, or come up with a plan B.
- What do you think are the biggest challenges facing special education teachers today? This question is designed to assess your understanding of special education teachers' challenges today. Explain why you think teacher retention is a challenge, the impact of budget cuts on special education programs, and how to best support students with disabilities.
- What would you do if a student was refusing to work? This question is designed to assess your ability to handle difficult situations in the classroom. Then, explain how you would get the student back on track, such as providing encouragement, setting clear expectations, and using positive reinforcement.
- What do you think is the most important quality to be a teacher? This question is designed to assess your understanding of the essential qualities for a successful teacher. For example, explain why you think empathy, kindness, and flexibility are necessary for this job.
- What do you think are the most important qualities for a student's success? This question is designed to assess your understanding of the critical qualities of a successful student. For example, explain why you think self-confidence, grit, and curiosity are essential for success in school.
- Do you have any experience working with students with special needs? If yes, explain what type of experience you have. If not, explain how you would be willing to work with special needs students.
- How do you deal with stress? This question is designed to assess your ability to manage stress in the classroom. Explain how you would decompress after a long day, ways that you stay organised and calm during stressful situations, and how you would handle a difficult situation.
- How do you build relationships with students? This question is designed to assess your ability to form a rapport with students. Explain how you would get to know your students, what types of activities you would do together, and how you would handle a difficult student.
- What do you think is the best way to help a student who is struggling? This question is designed to assess your understanding of recognising when a student may be struggling and what part you can play in helping them. Explain your approach to identifying a struggling student, what types of interventions you would use, and how you would monitor the student's progress.
- How do you deal with parents? This question is designed to assess your ability to deal with parents. Explain how you would communicate with parents, what type of information you would share with them, and how you would handle a situation when parents are unhappy with their child's progress.
- What do you think is the best way to discipline students? This question is designed to assess your methods of disciplining students. Explain how you would deal with a student who was not following classroom rules, what type of consequences you would use, and how you would make sure the student understood why the rules are important.
- What advice would you give to a new SEN specialist? This question is designed to assess your understanding of what new SEN specialists need to know. Explain how you would help a new teacher or teaching assistant get started in the classroom, how you would develop their skills, and what resources you would recommend.
- How much do you know about the school? This question is designed to assess your readiness for the interview. Talk about what you know already and ask about the school's philosophy on special education, the type of support that is available for teachers, and what the expectations are for the position.
- How Would You Contribute to Making the School a Safer Environment for Children? This question will assess your ability and willingness to contribute to making the school a safer environment for children. Explain how you would maintain a safe and secure environment in the classroom, what type of procedures you would put in place, and how you would respond to an incident. Draw on previous experience to provide an evidence-based answer.
- What signs of abuse/radicalisation should we be especially mindful of with our pupils? This question is designed to assess your understanding of how to identify signs of abuse and radicalisation in students. Explain what you would look for in a student, how you would report any concerns, and what type of support is available for teachers.
- The importance of teamwork in the classroom? This question is designed to assess your ability to work as part of a team. Explain how you would work with other teachers in the school, what type of support you would need, and how you would handle a situation when there is disagreement among the staff. Provide scenario-based evidence where possible to support your answer.
- How would you help promote a positive learning environment in the classroom? This question will gauge your understanding of a positive learning and how to implement this in a real-life situation. Explain how you would create a positive atmosphere in the classroom, what type of activities you would do together, and how you would handle a student who was not following classroom rules.
How to use SAR to Structure Interview Answers
Thus, in three steps, you are doing at least five things. Let's see why the SAR method is extremely useful to structure any interview answer:
- The situation paints a picture of who you are as a professional. Literally, it describes a scene where you are taking care of things in a work environment. This is a key interview goal to get the interviewer to resonate with what you are explaining.
- You are not just dropping names and numbers; you are adding actions and context to them. This way, they become way more real than what is written on your CV and application form.
- Providing a lot of detail shows that you are open and honest. Especially if the story sounds less as a show of self-importance and more like a situation which truly tested your skills, and what you learnt from it.
- The way you arrived at a conclusion and put your decisions in motion reveals your thinking process. This is crucial for many interviewers, who want to understand the how as much as the what and why.
- Finally, the information and particular evidence you select to explain the effects of your actions are clues to your robustness as an SEN professional. Particularly, your rigor when justifying your actions.
Be sure to check our other SEN career-related resources: