Interviews – Make them count!
When it comes to interviews, people react in different ways; unbelievably, some people enjoy interviews. The fact is, the better prepared you are, the more confident and relaxed you will be in front of your interviewer(s).
Preparation is key, if you prepare you will have better control and confidence. However don’t worry if you feel that you come across as nervous, this is perfectly natural in what is in effect a very unnatural environment.
Before the interview, we highly recommend taking the following basic steps:
· Have your ID, notes, planning, questions, clothes, directions, and interview confirmation together in one place avoid stressing to find them
· Research the school
· Size, pupil mix, race, geographic catchment area, specialisms
· Look at their website for information, projects, topics you can relate to, contacts and so on
· Look at their Ofsted report – make notes on their strengths and areas they struggle with
· Who are their local schools (competitors)?
Questions to prepare
Showing an interest in their school and having questions prepared proves that you are keen, but also gives you time to assess them. They may be seeing several teachers during the same week, so you need to make yourself stand out for the right reasons.
Here are a few examples:
· Other schools - What gives them the edge and why should a pupil choose them over the other school?
· Look at their job description again – Is there anything you need more information on? Are there any shortfalls that you may need to overcome? What else can you bring to the role? Are there opportunities for growth within the department?
· The department – find out the structure, number of staff, pupil take up, working environment, future plans for the department
· Why has the position come up? Is it because of growth, problems with staff or department?
· Culture - it is important that you find the right school for you as for them finding the right Teacher
· Values - you need to be able to identify and agree with their core values
Make the questions relevant to the school. If you know that they have made huge improvements in their Maths department, ask what they have done to achieve such great results.
You have made a good impression with your CV, you need to do the same with yourself. Our simple tips include:
· Dress smartly (even if it is a non-uniform day)
· Wear clean shoes
· Smell nice but not overpowering
· For the men – be clean shaven
For the smokers – do not smoke just before you go into an interview.
During the interview
Not only does your appearance matter, your body language and other factors come into play during your interview:
· Make good eye contact. It instils honesty, transparency, and confidence in what you are discussing
· Speak clearly and concisely – in other words, do not waffle. This is common place in an interview situation due to nerves, if you find yourself overcome with nerves take your time to breathe.
· Listen – you need to pay attention to the information they are providing you with and with the questions they are asking. This avoids situations where you may ask something they have already told you or answering questions incorrectly.
It is always good to get yourself in the right frame of mind for an interview. We recommend thinking about what the interviewer(s) are likely to ask you. Put yourself in their shoes; what do they need to know about you to make sure you are the right teacher for their post? Look at your CV through their eyes – think what concerns they may have, what are your strengths and weaknesses (be honest with yourself and prepare your answers in advance – but not verbatim). Questions can be broken down into various areas including (but not limited to):
For example, “Give me a summary of your background.” We would recommend focussing on your positive career development; include extracurricular activities, qualifications, and CPD.
“Why do you think you are qualified for this role?” Do not just think about your academic qualifications, it pays to think freely and include employment related and personal experiences.
Because you have already researched the position and school, you should be able to tailor your answer and make it specific to what they are looking for. Bring the relevant experiences you have had in your career to the discussion.
Reasons for applying
You should make a list of your reasons that made you apply for the position. What appeals to you?
“What are your long-term aspirations?” is a common question. You may have a number of long term goals; however, you should discuss the ones that are most relevant to their role and needs. Make your interviewer know that you have thought about your long-term career and that you have taken some steps towards achieving them.
What would you do…
Many schools will ask open questions to get you to describe certain situations to assess how you have dealt with them in the past to allow them to gauge how you may respond in future (this is known as competency based questioning). Here are some examples of such questions:
· Describe a time where the behaviour in your classroom seemed to be getting out of control. What did you do about it? What was the outcome? What would you do different next time?
· Tell me about a time where you have had to cope with a stressful situation.
· Explain what you have done to overcome a situation where pupils have completely opposed a learning strategy you have adopted or had to adopt. What happened?
· Give an example of how you have facilitated change in your current school. What was the impact and what did you learn from the experience?
· What could you do to help our school improve on __? Give an example if this in a previous school you have worked in.
· How do you assess the effectiveness of your teaching and learning with pupils?
· Give me an example of how you have implemented personalised learning within your classroom.
How have you coped with work-life balance within your teaching career? Give an example.
If you are being interviewed for a leadership position, your interviewers will focus on more specific leadership areas. These could include questions like:
· Describe an example of how you have managed to help a fellow colleague develop their teaching skills and develop them from satisfactory to good or good to outstanding.
· What innovative teaching and learning strategies have you managed to put into place during your leadership role?
· How do you ensure that Teachers are held accountable for their own performance?
· How have you enhanced the well-being of students at your school?
· Provide an example of how you have sought innovative solutions to funding constraint? What was the outcome?
· Talk through an example of when you have effectively delegated to your team. What was learnt and would you do anything different next time?
Any other questions?
You will undoubtedly have the opportunity at the end of the interview to ask any other questions. It is a good idea to ask questions throughout your interview that are relevant to the conversation as this shows keen interest in the positon and the conversation, however always have some questions at the end. Again, do not ask questions for the sake of asking them – make them relevant to the position or school. Use this as an opportunity to show your commitment to the school and their pupils. Questions could include:
· What do you like best about working at this school? Time for them to sell you their school.
· What are the goals for the department over the next 5 years?
· What CPD opportunities are available to your staff?
· At the final stages of the interview – Don’t be worried about asking questions such as “Is there anything you are looking for that I have not demonstrated for this role?” or “When are you looking to make a decision?” It gives you the opportunity to try to overcome any concerns and shows that you are keen to be considered.
Most teaching jobs now include an observed lesson where you are witnessed in a live teaching environment. Schools often ask pupils in the observed lesson for feedback which they will also take into consideration.
Make sure you have enough information from the school to prepare for your lesson. If they have not provided you with information that you feel is important to know, do not be afraid to ask them for it. You will most certainly need to know:
· What topic they require you to teach
· If a revision topic, what they have been taught before
· Any SEN/EAL pupils, what grades they are working at and expected
· Year group, class size and seating plan
· Behavioural issues
· Length of the lesson you are planning to
· Do you need equipment to be made available for the lesson? If so, send a shopping list. Remember that you are being observed on your interaction with the pupils and not on the use of all technologies available.
Some additional tips:
· Print a spare couple of copies of your lesson plan off for the people observing you.
· Have additional work with you in case pupils work through your topic at great speed.
· Have the right attitude – when delivering your lesson, you will need to come across as passionate and enthusiastic. Demonstrate subject knowledge and above all, engage the pupils.
· Generally, you will have around 30-50 minutes to deliver your lesson. Keep it succinct and create a lively learning environment by asking questions and engaging pupils.
Demonstrate that the pupils have learnt something in your lesson so that you have a positive learning outcome.