Love them or hate them, we can all improve our chances of success at an interview, no matter how experienced we are, if we follow a few basic tips…
No matter how experienced you are, you cannot breeze into an interview without meticulous preparation. The panel will want to be sure that you have prepared for their job and that you want to work at their school. Find out as much as you can in advance about the school, its curriculum and the job on offer, and refer to what you know in your answers. Make sure you’re familiar with your CV, too, and that you can remember what you wrote on your application form. You’ll almost certainly be asked about the information you’ve given.
You know what your skills are and you know what the school is looking for. Rehearse the ways in which you can demonstrate your appropriateness by matching the two in your interview answers.
You’ll be told what the interview will entail, but there may also be a surprise or two. Challenging questions or unexpected tasks can throw us off balance, so keep your cool and stay with it, regardless.
Wear a smart, appropriate outfit, but be comfortable too. You want to be able to forget what you’re wearing so you can concentrate on the task at hand. Keep it simple, and professional.
Keep it clear
Clarity is essential. Take a moment to compose your response to each question before launching into your answer. Keep it focused, too. That way you’ll avoid going off at a tangent or producing unnecessarily bloated answers. Clear, focused answers will also help you to develop a rapport with your interview panel, which could make the whole process easier all round. We all know how frustrating it is when politicians don’t know how to give a straight answer to a question!
How can you use examples from your experience so far to illustrate each answer? What have you already done that demonstrates your appropriateness for the job? Rehearse possible links so that you’re more likely to remember them when under pressure.
Keep it positive
Attitude is everything. However unlikely you suspect it is that you’ll be offered the job, you have to act as if it’s yours for the taking. Be positive and confident. The panel needs to be able to visualise you in the role so you have to believe in yourself.
Demonstrate personal reflection
Despite what some may claim, there is no such thing as a perfect teacher. We all have space to grow and develop as practitioners and demonstrating personal reflection shows professionalism and a desire to improve; very attractive traits.
Ask for clarity
Not every interviewer is adept at the role so you may need to ask for a question to be rephrased. Better to be clear than potentially answer a question that hasn’t been asked. Interviews shouldn’t be tricks or traps.
First impressions do, of course, count for a lot. But they don’t count for everything. It is more than possible to bring things round in your favour if you didn’t get off to a great start.
About the author
After graduating with a degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading, Elizabeth Holmes completed her PGCE at the Institute of Education, University of London. She then taught humanities and social sciences in schools in London, Oxfordshire and West Sussex, where she ran the history department in a challenging comprehensive. Elizabeth specialises in education but also writes on many other issues and themes. As well as her regular blogs for eTeach and FEjobs, her books have been published by a variety of publishers and translated around the world.