How to Prepare for School Interviews

Great news - you've been offered an interview! This means that you have passed the first test and your application has made a lasting impression on the school; now you need to smash the interview! Get ahead of your competition by following these steps when preparing and get ready to dazzle the panel.

1) Know Which Different Types of Interview Scenario You Might Experience

It is likely that the school will send you some information prior to your interview so that you know what scenarios you will need to prepare for, so make sure to examine what they will be looking for you in each area. Some example scenarios include:

  • Panel interview or traditional Q&As:

These usually last for 30–45 minutes with the head teacher, a governor and a classroom teacher or head of department. Do you want to know 8 top teacher interview questions you might come up against? Be prepared and make sure you know how you would answer them.

  • Informal discussion:

This may be with a senior teacher or head of department and could take place during a school tour. Tours by pupils are a common feature; use this as an opportunity to understand what the children think about the school. Make sure to not spend the entire opportunity speaking about you; this is your chance to learn about other people, the school and show them what you are like – rather than telling them.

  • Teaching a lesson or part-lesson:

You will usually be invited to teach a class, so check the availability of resources at the school before you do your planning. During your interview you may be asked about the lesson, focusing on your planning, learning outcomes, assessment techniques and an evaluation of how the lesson went.

  • Group discussion:

This is more common for secondary posts. You will be assessed on your knowledge of the topic and ability to work in a group. Take an active part in the group without dominating the discussion and where possible look to ensure that other people have participated too; it will show more about you as a person and your leadership ability.

  • Interview by pupils:

This is often part of the interview process, even in primary schools. This shows how you engage with pupils, whereas before you will have been engaging with adults and school staff. Remember to smile and be yourself!

  • Presentations:

For more senior roles you may be required to present to the panel on a chosen subject, make sure that you prepare your presentation well, know your subject and brush up on your presentation skills!

2) Know What Types of Questions You May Be Asked in Your Interview

You may be asked questions such as:

“Describe a lesson that did not go well for you and what you did about it, or would do about it in the future?"

"What would you do to develop positive relationships with pupils?"

"What strategies do you implement in the classroom to manage behaviour?"

"How do you envisage working with parents?"

If you want more examples of interview questions including tips on how to answer them, see what Headteachers said about the questions they would ask during a school interview here.

3) Make Good Use of “the Ripple Effect”

The Ripple effect is a way of answering questions to show that you have thought about the effect on yourself, the students, the school and also the wider community (comparable to throwing a pebble into the water). For example:

“What makes a good teacher?” 

Me (Teacher)
Planning, preparation, delivery (it's all about you and your teaching methods).

The Pupils
The mixture of formative and summative assessment, clear expectations, positive atmosphere etc.

The School
Your professional development, sharing resources, not afraid to ask more experienced teachers advice etc.

The Community
How you keep in contact with parents, charity links, extra-curricular activities etc.

When answering, give examples of times you have had to deal with the situation they are asking about, how you handled it, how successful you were, what you learnt from it and if necessary, what would you do differently if dealing with it again.

4) Remember the Interview Dos and Don’ts 


  • Dress Smartly
  • Exhibit a positive attitude
  • Smile


  • Be late
  • Use the word "I" too much. Head teachers look for teachers who are team players
  • Ask about the salary, holiday and other benefits. There will be a better time for you to speak about these after the interview when you are hired.

Good luck!

Think you're prepared for your school interview? Make sure you don't make any of these 10 Interview Errors - with tips on how to avoid them too!

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