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Top Tips for Job Interviews

Before each interview we send you to we will spend time talking you through what to expect, discuss likely interview questions for you to consider and go into a bit more detail specific to your CV, experience, interested and personal style.

It never hurts to start practising your interview technique though.

Many people report great success in practicing answering out loud, fine-tuning their reponses and tucking away snippets of genius for the real event. We always recommend you practise in private though – regaling fellow public transport travellers with a monologue about your assessment for learning techniques is guaranteed to earn you some strange looks (although possible also ensuring you get to keep the spare seat next to you…).

Here are some tried and tested interview tips.

1. Do your research beforehand

The school will assume that you have read their website and OFSTED report. Adapt your answers where possible and apply them to the context of the school. Be ready to tell your interviewer/s exactly why you want a teaching position at this particular school. Mention specific attributes of the school and be able to list reasons why employing you would complement, enhance or even improve these. Never think you can give an evasive and generic answer here and get away with it, you won’t fool anybody and your lack of research will suggest you are lazy, or at the very least, disinterested.

2. Arrive early

It’s a good idea to plan your journey in the days leading up to your interview. Make sure you arrive early so avoid feeling rushed and anxious. Check your map, charge your Sat Nav and if you can, do a “trial run” to see what the route is like to avoid traffic delays.

If you’ve got a Skype interview set up, make sure you are logged on early and have checked your internet connection to ensure there’s no issues. Check the background that will be visible to the person you are Skyping with and ensure you are in a ‘professional’ setting with no background noise. A Skype call where you are propped up against your bed with housemates playing loud music in the background is never well received.

3. Take a copy of your CV and covering letter with you

Often the person interviewing you will expect you to go through it with them but won’t provide you with a copy. Interview nerves can prevent you from remembering key details, so always bring a copy of your CV that you can refer to.

teaching job interview tips4. Relax!

Easier said than done! Nerves are to be expected of course, but the interviewer will want your personality to shine through. Remember that all Headteachers were in your position once! That said, ten deep breaths before the interview works a treat to calm your nerves and focus your mind.

Be yourself, show the interviewer/s who you are, and how you will fit in and contribute to the school community. Smile, and enjoy your time at this school and in the classroom.

If you are an overseas teacher or have to interview remotely via Zoom/phone or face timed interview, you don’t have the advantage of body language or being there “in person”. You must have a lively tone, be prepared to answer questions on your commitment to moving to the UK, be enthusiastic, ask the school questions about their experiences with other overseas teachers and promote yourself positively. You will need to bring the interview to life in a virtual way!

5. Don’t rush your answers

Consider each question before you answer. There’s no harm in asking for a few seconds to consider your response to the question before you give a clear and concise answer. Expand upon your answers but don’t ramble! Always keep the original question in mind.

6. Be positively positive!

Be as positive as possible about other schools you have worked in. Remember that many headteachers know each other and are sometimes close friends! If you haven’t had a positive experience somewhere, talk about what you learned rather than what you disliked.

7. Prepare your lesson plan and resources

If you are teaching a lesson as part of the interview process, prepare for every eventuality! How will you ensure behaviour for learning? How will you plan for children with EAL? Ensure you have organised all the resources you require beforehand, whether that be PE or Science equipment, handouts, AV connections, etc. Be sure to have copies of your lesson plan to hand out to observers.

8. Reflect upon your lesson

You will have the opportunity to talk about your observed lesson in the interview. If you aren’t asked any questions about the lesson, ask if you can discuss it! Make sure you know what changes you would make if you had the opportunity to do it again. Even the most disastrous lessons can be saved in the interview as long as you acknowledge what went wrong and know how you would improve. Use case studies of previous lessons taught – give examples from your teaching practicum of previous school.

9. Always ask questions

The interview is a two-way process, it’s as much about you choosing a school as it is about a school choosing a teacher. Think about what you would like to know about the school that isn’t easily available to find out online. It’s a good idea to take a notebook to the interview so you can jot down any questions to ask later – that way you are prepared if you are asked if you have “any questions” and your mind goes blank. It also makes you seem organised and genuinely interested in the role.

10. Be engaging with students, senior management & potential new colleagues

Often a decision is made on your interaction within the whole school on the day. Your interview could be a panel decision. As a teacher your ability to work in a team is integral to your success (and happiness), so make sure to impress potential team members.

11. Ask for feedback

There’s no harm asking how the interviewer feels the day has gone before you leave. Close the interview on a positive note: if you are keen, let them know. If you want the job, don’t be afraid to ask for it!

Retired UK Principal, Stuart McLaughlin hosts the Teach in Headteacher Series video on: “Preparing for Virtual Teaching Interviews.”