21 Apr 2021
By Mark Richards,
Your first teaching job interview is a daunting prospect. However, it’s good to know that you can be pretty confident of what to expect. Of course, all schools can do things differently and some, occasionally, like to throw a ‘curveball’ into the proceedings. But, generally speaking, the format for teaching interviews is fairly generic and standard.
Job adverts will usually stipulate whether a position is open to trainees, more experienced teachers or both. As a general rule, the interview process will focus on your application, training and school experience. As a trainee who may not have officially qualified yet, schools know that you are unlikely to be the finished article. Most school interview panels will be more concerned with a candidate’s potential and suitability for that particular school.
The typical itinerary for a teaching interview is also fairly standard and established. It usually includes a tour of the school, an interview with a panel, and the teaching of a lesson. Other activities that are often included are the likes of pupil interview or short written tasks.
It’s important to bear in mind that first impressions really do count. Indeed, the interview really begins the moment you enter the school and sign in. Naturally, it is expected that you dress appropriately and smartly. Always be conscious of your body language and non-verbal communication. It really makes a difference.
What skills are interviewers looking for?
If interviewers aren’t expecting the finished article, what skills are they hoping to see? Excellent communication skill and the ability to listen carefully and respond with well-thought-through answers. Candidates are expected to show professional knowledge and a good understanding of their subject specialism. In terms of the interview lesson, schools are looking for candidates with classroom management skills and signs that they will engage young people with their lessons. Particularly important is the ability to reflect on your own practice and to be aware of what your own development needs are. Successful candidates will also need to show their commitment and motivation to teaching and the education of young people in general.
What to expect on the teaching interview day?
A lot of attention, understandably, is paid to the teaching of an interview lesson. After all, this is the ‘bread and butter’ for all candidates. The person who is successful will be employed to teach. However, that doesn’t mean that the other elements of the teaching interview day are any less important.
The traditional panel interview often lasts for around 30 minutes and it can be an intense experience, as you are quizzed by the headteacher, governor and head of department. Once again, the type of questions that you are likely to face are fairly standard and generic.
The tour of the school, almost an obligatory part of the interview itinerary, is an opportunity for informal discussions to take place. It’s really important that you show an interest in the students you meet during the tour.
The best way to prepare for the day is to re-read all parts of your application and to have specific examples from your school experience to show that you meet the relevant selection criteria. Finally, do some research on the school and make sure you show an interest in it during the day.
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