Preparing for Interviews

So, you got an interview – well done! You’ve successfully jumped the first hurdle, now you need to get over the next one.

The first thing to do is find out more about the school and the best place for this is the school’s website. Look for newsletters, reports on activities, the range of after-school clubs and activities and find out exactly where the school is located.

Location is important; how are you going to get to the interview? And if you are offered the job, how are you going to get there every day for the next two years or so? Plan your journey to the school for the interview. Go there on a working day, prior to the interview if you can, and look for things like parking or public transport links. You need to arrive at the interview in good time and spirits, not turn up late and frustrated because you have been driving round for ages trying to park or soaking wet because you have walked for a mile in the rain.

The school’s website will give you clues about what you might say in the interview. The interviewers will be interested in your professional abilities but if you can say you are interested in, for example, music and could contribute to the school’s budding choir or guitar group this will improve your chances. It also demonstrates you are sufficiently interested in the school to have researched it. If you are asked “Do you have any questions?” you can start by saying “When I looked on your website I noticed…..” and frame your questions from there.

Dress for the interview should be formal. You must look as if you have taken care with your appearance. All the people who interview you will have been trained not to make up their minds about you in the first few seconds. However, they will all be human and will do just that, despite their training, so looking professionally dressed and enthusiastic will get you off to a good start.

During the interview be honest and open; talk enthusiastically about what you do know and admit it if you don’t know the answer to a particular question – but say “I am always learning”. Headteachers are usually very good at spotting exaggeration. However, interviewing is a skill and not everyone you encounter will be good at it. For example, if the interviewer is investigating your classroom management skills a good question will be “Can you give me an example of your good classroom management skills?” because this gives you the opportunity to explain. A poor question might be “Do you have good classroom management skills?” The obvious and automatic answer is “Yes” but if this happens you should take the opportunity to expand your answer to demonstrate ways in which you manage children effectively.

You should also read the advert, job description and person specification carefully. If there is a particular item on these that is not covered during the interview it is good to be aware of this so when you arrive at the “Is there anything else you would like to tell us?” question you can gently cover the omitted subject. At the selection meeting after all the interviews have taken place, this might well tip the balance in your favour.

DON’T EVER ask about salary, benefits, holidays or other fringe benefits – these come later – but it is legitimate to ask about professional development opportunities in the school.

Lastly and most importantly of all – SMILE. The interviewers are going to have to work with you, possibly for years, and will be attracted to a person who is happy, engaging and who demonstrates a commitment to the school and its pupils.

Need more tips to make sure that you nail your interview? Take a look at this advice on How to Prepare for School Interviews.

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