The interview process for teaching positions is a gruelling one. Typically a full day, candidates face (sometimes several) ‘mini-interviews’, the prospect of teaching a lesson, small talk in the staff room, a ‘formal’ interview – and, of course, the small matter of being under scrutiny from the moment you arrive at the school gates on the morning of the interview!
It is a tough and daunting experience and it can be hard to do yourself justice in the few short hours that you have got to convince the interview panel that you are the ideal candidate for the position. Here are some top tips that will help you prepare for success on your next interview.
Know the school you are applying for a job at
Depending on the stage of your career you are at, you will be applying for positions for different reasons. It could be that you are looking for career progression and a step up to either middle or senior leadership. For someone who is coming to the end of their training, it’s a simple fact that they need to find a job! But whatever your individual situation is it is important that you take the time to find out all you can about the school you are applying for a job at.
Scour the school website, unpick OFSTED reports, and look at what data is available. Essentially, you are looking for nuggets of information that you can refer to in your interview. If you can find something that sets the school apart from others or that is particularly appealing or challenging, all the better. Do your homework!
It’s sometimes difficult to gauge how you should come across on interview. You don’t want to be too quiet as this can be interpreted as being disinterested or unenthusiastic. You want to show that you are confident, but not arrogant. Understanding what your personal strengths and qualities are is important. These are the things you should be pushing during the interview day. Show humility too, without being negative or selling yourself short.
Teacher training places a great emphasis on self-evaluation and reflection and interviews are very much the same. The lesson observation part of the interview day is where reflection comes into its own. The observed lesson is a potential minefield, often depending on how well the school itself has planned it. It’s absolutely fine to take a risk with your lesson. The risk might not pay off, but the interview panel will be very interested to see how you evaluate your own lesson and how adept you are at identifying what went well and what you could have improved.
Actions not words
Avoid those stock phrases, meaningless buzzwords and clichés. Talk is cheap and actions do speak louder than words. Instead of trotting out ‘I’m passionate…’ show your passion in the responses you give or in your interaction with pupils. If you make a claim about yourself, back it up with evidence.
Don’t be afraid of saying no
Ending up in a position that just isn’t right for you – for whatever reason – will always end badly. You will usually get a sense that a school might not be the right fit for you during the interview day. You are perfectly within your rights to withdraw from an interview at any point during the day or turn down a job offer. Don’t be afraid of doing so if you are really concerned about what you have seen. Trust your instincts.