Special Educational Needs (SEN) Teachers are in high demand, both in mainstream schools and SEN schools. Equally, the number of people wanting to become SEN teachers has risen, so the competition to work in an SEN environment has grown more fierce.
If you are someone seeking an SEN job, then you will need to ensure that you are aware of the changing trends within an SEN environment as well as be thoroughly prepared for when you are invited to an interview.
To help put you ahead of the competition, we have devised a list of the questions you are likely to be asked in an SEN Teacher interview in addition to providing you with why prospective employers are asking these specific questions.
SEN Teacher Interview Questions:
If you can prepare answers for these 20 SEN Teacher interview questions, then we believe that it will make you stand out from the competition as well as help you to feel confident in your abilities as an SEN Teacher.
1) How do you build positive relationships with the student’s parents?
This question is designed so the interviewer can ascertain your communication skills, and whether you are confident in approaching parents and proactive in creating positive and honest relationships through regular check-ins and teacher/parent meetings.
To be an effective SEN Teacher you need to collaborate with others, such as other teachers, professionals, and parents, to ensure the individual learning needs of the students are being consistently met.
2) What have you achieved in the past year to further your professional development?
This is your chance to show how passionate you are about helping students with SEN.
If you can demonstrate that you take part in relevant activities outside of your job to improve your skills and experience as an SEN Teacher, then it emphasises your dedication and your willingness to stay up-to-date on areas related to special educational needs.
3) What made you pursue a career in special education needs?
Just like the previous question, this one is designed to gauge how passionate you are as well as WHY you are so passionate about working in an SEN environment.
Do you enjoy helping people? Do you find it easy to empathise with others? Think about what motivates you to want to work in SEN. If you are a naturally empathetic person, then this will go a long way in securing the job since a desired personal trait of an SEN Teacher is empathy.
Consider reading What Skills Are Needed For A Special Educational Needs Learning Environment? if you would like to find out about the other personal traits that are desired of an SEN Teacher.
4) Why are you interested in this job?
The interviewer generally asks this type of question to understand why you have applied for the job you are being interviewed for. So, to prepare for this question, ensure that you thoroughly read the job description advertised before attending the interview. Then, try to match your previous experience with what they are looking for.
Additionally, find out about the establishment that you are wishing to work in by conducting online research and taking notes. If you can show that you know a little about the school, such as how long it has been running or its ethos and vision, then it proves to the interviewer that you are enthusiastic about that particular role.
5) How would you work with a student who has autism?
With this type of question, you need to elaborate on your experience of working in an SEN environment. Think about the previous techniques you have used to effectively support an autistic child. Again, come prepared with examples where your actions resulted in a positive outcome.
Children with autism find it easier to learn when they have a teacher who can communicate well, provide a calm and consistent environment, establish a routine, and collaborate with other professionals and parents.
How To Help Students With Autism In The Classroom will help you further with this type of question.
6) What do you think are the essential qualities of a special education teacher?
Think about your personal traits as well as your experience and qualifications.
As previously mentioned, SEN Teachers can provide more effective support to students when they are able to empathise. Additionally, showing sensitivity, patience, and resilience are also important, and possibly necessary, qualities to have when working in an SEN environment.
7) What would you do if a student refused to work?
There will be many difficult situations that arise when working in an SEN environment, which is why this type of question will probably be asked when you interview for an SEN Teacher position. The interviewer is wanting to find out how you would handle such a difficult situation.
Like most children, those with special educational needs require encouragement and positive reinforcement. However, what is particularly important for SEN children is that they understand what is expected of them; an SEN Teacher should clearly outline a student’s individual goals and, once they have achieved them, the child’s progress should be noticed, emphasis being put on how far they have come.
8) Tell us about yourself.
This is said in most interviews, not just those for an SEN role.
Here, you can talk about your education, the qualifications you have gained, and any experience you have, ideally in an SEN area. Try to keep what you mention relevant to the role you are applying for.
9) Do you have any experience working with students with special needs?
The answer, hopefully, will be yes. Experience in teaching SEN students can be more vital to a prospective employer than any qualifications. Real-life experience is where skills are honed and confidence is developed.
However, if you do not have paid experience, then SEN experience can be gained by volunteering, which will, again, demonstrate your passion for helping people, particularly those with special educational needs.
10) How do you build relationships with students?
As previously mentioned, a lot of employers seek effective communicators, and there is nowhere that it is more vital than in an SEN environment. Positive relationships are easier to build through good communication.
An SEN Teacher with good communication skills has a high chance of building a good rapport with their students. They will be able to get to know their students, find out what they enjoy doing, and, hopefully, incorporate these passions into their learning.
11) How would you discipline students?
Again, think about previous experience. Share the techniques you have used and the positive results that were achieved.
Students, particularly those with SEN, need to have clear learning goals and understand what is expected of them in the classroom. For example, they need to be made aware of the consequences of bad behaviour.
12) What do you know about this school?
This question ties in with a previous one (Why are you interested in this job?), so you may find that you have already answered it.
However, further emphasise what you know about the school, going into detail about the school’s vision. You could even mention your connection with the school (if you have one), such as your proximity to the location or if any of your relatives have previously attended.
13) What do you know about special educational needs?
This question is designed for an interviewer to gauge your understanding of SEN as it will help them ascertain whether you are fit for a challenging role in an SEN environment.
This is when keeping up-to-date with areas related to special educational needs will be beneficial. Talk about the types of disabilities and difficulties (behavioural and emotional) that fall under the term SEN and how these may affect a child’s learning.
Additionally, try to mention example tools and techniques you would use to teach students with various learning needs.
Consider reading What Is A Special Educational Need? to help with this type of question.
14) What qualifications have you achieved to make you right for this position?
If other interviewees have experience but they do not have the necessary qualifications, then this is where you can stand out from the competition.
Explain where you trained, and how long you studied, and provide details of what was covered on the course.
If you want to work in an SEN environment and would like to find out more about the qualifications you can attain to help you land your dream job, then consider reading Looking To Become A Special Educational Needs Teaching Assistant? Here’s How. The qualifications mentioned are relevant whether you wish to be an SEN Teacher or Teaching Assistant.
15) How would you deal with an angry parent?
This question provides a good opportunity for you to demonstrate the tactics you use to diffuse tense situations.
Mention how active listening is important to establish the parent’s concerns. Talk about the importance of open body language to help create a friendly environment that encourages parents to communicate honestly. Lastly, be sure to mention that you will own up to any mistakes that you may have made and will work accordingly to rectify the situation.
16) What does the word inclusion mean to you?
Explain why you think inclusion is important. Hopefully, this is prominent in your current environment, whether that be in work or education.
Inclusion is a contributing factor in establishing and maintaining a positive environment that every student can learn and grow in, particularly those who have different disabilities/difficulties.
17) What are the challenges of being an SEN teacher?
Refer to the challenges you have experienced so far. Mention how you overcame them.
An SEN teacher supports students with a variety of disabilities and needs, which can be challenging in itself.
Additionally, since some students may have emotional or behavioural problems then a normally calm learning environment can quickly become affected if a student becomes upset. An SEN teacher will have to know how to handle this type of situation, restore calm in the class, and ascertain what may have triggered the student.
18) What do you think are the most important qualities for a student’s success?
Think about the personal traits that are required of a good SEN teacher, some of which, hopefully, you possess.
Patience, empathy, adaptability, and creativity are all vital qualities that will help a SEN teacher to support students and provide the encouragement they need to succeed in their learning.
19) How do you deal with stress?
As previously mentioned, working as an SEN teacher presents many challenges on a daily basis, which means it can be a stressful job. The interviewer may ask this type of question to understand how you will manage your stress within the classroom as well as how you will wind down after the working day is done.
Think about what works for you. Everyone deals with stress differently. However, communicating with others, such as the other teachers, is an effective way to relieve any worries.
Additionally, staying active, eating healthily, and taking time to relax will help you to maintain your stress levels.
20) Do you have any questions for us?
This is how most interviews typically end.
It is always best to have at least one question prepared, to show that you are enthusiastic about the position. For example, you could ask the interviewer when they will get in touch to let you know whether you have been successful or not.
Additionally, you should also ask questions to determine whether the role will be suitable for you. Being an SEN teacher is a massive commitment, so you will need to be sure that the position will be right for you long-term, and that the pay and benefits are appropriate for the role.
If you think you are ready to apply for an SEN teaching position, then submit a CV to hear about the latest SEN job vacancies. There are many SEN teacher and teaching assistant jobs available.