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What to Expect When Interviewing For a Headship


Securing a position as a headteacher is a big ambition for many passionate teachers, but what does it really take to land the top job at an inspiring school? It takes passion, dedication, experience and the willingness to go that extra mile to change the lives of pupils. But it also takes confidence, flexibility, patience and great communication skills.

When interviewing for a headship role, it’s vital that candidates really understand what the job requires, and what a board of governors are likely to be looking for as they assess applicants. To make sure you’re in the best possible position, take a look at our tips on what to expect from the interview process.

The Interview

If your CV ticks all the boxes and you’ve been selected as a potential candidate, then you’re already well on your way to taking the headteacher role. At this point, the interviewing team will call applicants they believe to be suitable to arrange an interview. The interview itself is not unlike your typical job interview, but you should be aware that there may well be several governors on the interview panel.

The interview process will depend largely on the preferences of these governors, and of course, the school that you have chosen. Take your time when preparing for the interview. Do as much research as you can into the school, and think about what your strategies would be if you were selected for the role. Take a stroll around the grounds, talk to local people and immerse yourself in the ethos of the institution.

When it comes to the interview itself, there are some general steps you can take to ensure you excel. Firstly, approach it with confidence. By doing so, you’ll be able to make the best possible impression from the moment you meet your interviewers. Establish a rapport from the beginning, and you’ll soon ease your nerves and start to build a relationship with the governors.

The Presentation

Quite often headship candidates are asked to prepare a short presentation. This could be on any topic, but it’ll likely be centred around your ideas and strategies for improving the school or achieving specific theoretical targets. It might sound like a daunting task, but the key here is not to panic.

Even the best candidates approach interview presentations with a degree of trepidation, but it’s worth bearing in mind that the governors are unlikely to be focusing too much on the content of the presentation. Instead, they will be watching and thinking about whether the candidate in front of them is the type of candidate that could confidently speak to a school full of students, to get a message across whilst never losing their attention. If you can do that, then you can definitely excel in an interview presentation.

The Task

Don’t be surprised if your interview process includes a task. The role of headteacher is a rich and varied one, and there are seemingly endless responsibilities that fall under the position’s remit. For this reason, interviews regularly include one or several tasks designed to give the board a clearer idea as to the true capabilities of their candidates.

Typical tasks that could be included in the process range from budget planning and analysis exercises to group discussions and role-play scenarios. You may even be expected to lead an assembly or a sample lesson, whilst being assessed by your interviewing team. Sometimes the process also encompasses meet and greets with pupils and parents, which provide a valuable opportunity for you to learn more about the school.

If you’re looking for a new role and have a headship in your sights, it pays to be prepared. Get to know the interview process and ensure that you’re fully equipped to deal with any question or task your interviewers might throw at you. Approach the process with confidence, and use it to learn as much as you can about what your new role entails. Before long you’ll have landed the role you’ve always dreamt about.

Looking for more interview tips to ensure that you dazzle the interviewing panel? Take a look at this advice on preparing for school interviews.

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