Interviews are often the most stressful part of applying for a new teaching post. Just the thought of performing in front of those interviewing panels can be terrifying. So here are some interview tips to ensure you are perfectly prepared, giving you the best possible chance of getting that all-important new job.
Do your research
- Who will you be meeting?
- What is their title and name?
- Who else will be present at the interview?
- When should you arrive?
- Plan your journey carefully
- Find out where you can park or where the nearest public transport route is
- Ensure you leave plenty of time to allow for delays and getting lost. If you arrive very early then you can use the time to get a feel for the area and meet school staff
- Have the contact details of the school with you so you can phone in an emergency.
What to wear
Dress smartly. Irrespective of the school’s dress code it is essential that you dress smartly for any school visit or interview. It is expected that you will wear a suit, your hair will be neat, jewellery will be minimal and any supporting documents will be carried in a smart bag/briefcase or folder. First impressions certainly do count.
Find out about the school
- Research the school from as many different sources as possible
- Visit the school prior to the interview, this shows the school that you are interested and there is no better way of finding out about the school community. Ask if you could observe a lesson, meet the people you are hoping to work with, and talk to the head of department. Make sure you thank the school for the visit either by a follow-up call or letter
- Check out the school’s website
- Ask the school for a prospectus
- Read the Ofsted report - http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/reports/
- Find out where they are in the league tables
- Find out what the key issues are for the school; what makes you the ideal candidate for taking the school forward in these areas?
Find out about the job
Read the job specification carefully. The interviewers are looking for a person who will best fit or exceed this specification. Your past experience and achievements are obviously important but only as an illustration of how you can relate them to the job/school requirements.
Know your CV
The interviewer may have a copy of your CV in front of them at interview. Make sure that you know all the information on your CV and that your CV is up-to-date. Ideally update your CV after any block of work or any completed professional development.
Prepare for the actual interview - interview questions
The questions that are likely to arise at interview vary according to the position but they may include the following:
- Why you applied for this specific job
- What you think the job involves
- Your strengths and achievements in the profession so far
- Your future plans and ambitions
- Your weaknesses and development needs
- Why you left your previous position and what you are currently doing
- What you know about the school you are hoping to join, and your thoughts after any preliminary visit
- Why you think you would be suited to teach at this school
- Your ideas on dealing with difficult situations such as a confrontational parent, a child with disruptive behaviour, etc
- How your interests outside school could benefit extracurricular activities
- Your subject knowledge, and current issues in your subject and education
- Your qualifications.
Make sure you have been reading about education and your subject in newspapers and subject association publications.
After the interview
Let your consultant know whether you are interested in taking the position should it be offered to you. If there are any clarifications or questions that you have following the interview, inform your consultant who can follow these up with the school on your behalf.
Whether or not you are successful in getting the position, your consultant will contact you as soon as they have heard from the school. If you have not been selected for the post, the consultant will ask for feedback. Digesting and acting on this feedback will ensure that you are even more prepared for the next interview.
Two final points
Get those nerves under control early! Easier said than done, we know. But eating well the day before will ensure your blood sugar levels are balanced. And if you do feel an attack of the jitters, remember to do lots of deep breathing.
Slow down! What happens when we're nervous? We gabble, rush our speech and leave important stuff out. Remember - silence can be your best friend. Pausing for a second or two before starting to answer questions can make you seem thoughtful, methodical and in control.