Securing An Interview

Getting that phone call for an interview is both exciting and scary! Now you have to go face to face and stun the school with your skills! Last article I posted covered some tips to get your application over the line and noticed by the panel. My book, The Essential Teacher’s Guide, goes into much depth on the interview process and today’s article does not double up on information. There are many fresh ideas here!

Unfortunately, in my experience, often those applicants selected for interview are those who have a connection in some way to the staff. This, of course, does not preclude random applicants from successfully gaining an interview and securing a position. However, a school is likely to interview people known to them in some way. A person can present well in both application and interview but still not end up being a great teacher. Having some extra background knowledge of a person really helps a panel.

Tips to Gain an Interview:

  • Go on a tour – I know it is time consuming and not always possible. BUT! If you really, really want a job at a particular school you are wise to do a tour. If tour information is not shared online, ring the office and ask.
  • Ask insightful questions on tour – Getting a job is all about standing out against a sea of similar applicants. Prior to going on tour, read any documents you can about the school. Form questions before the tour so you are armed ready. For example, my school has a deaf facility. It’s not entirely clear on our website how the students are integrated and how exactly it works with teaching. A good question to ask! The questions you prepare should show depth of thinking.
  • Wear a name badge – I know, I know, really dorky. But if your uni made you badges to wear on placement, wear it on the tour. Perhaps you hold a position with a relief teaching agency and they have made you a badge. Or, you have a teaching position already and are looking to find a more permanent job. Wearing a name badge helps to keep increasing your visibility. I always forget adult names straight after I am introduced. If someone wears a name badge I find it really helpful. If you asked good questions on the tour AND wore a badge so they could remember your name, your chances of gaining an interview have improved.

Tips for the Interview:

  • Arrive early enough – Keep stress and panic away by arriving with plenty of time to find a park and relax.
  • Bring a copy of your cover letter, CV and SC – Just in case and to use for response time prior to interview. I interviewed someone recently whose CV and cover letter didn’t upload so we needed it when she arrived.
  • Use the reading time well – Often schools will give you 15 minutes to read the questions and jot notes. Usually these are based around the selection criteria.
  • Having already written your application you should be able to tap back into your responses.
  • Have some questions prepared for after the interview – If they weren’t covered in the interview process, this shows you have thought about the school/job. Try and make the questions deep or insightful.
  • There’s no time limit – When responding to questions there’s no real time limit. Don’t waffle on of course, but you only have a small chance to impress with your knowledge and experience. Tell as much as you can.
  • Expand – Sometimes panels will ask you another question on the same topic, immediately after you have finished answering. Possibly that’s because you didn’t answer it adequately. Try not to rehash what you have just said as they’ve just heard that. They are looking for something new.
  • Make your responses child focused – Panels want to get a sense of your feelings towards children and know that the child is at the centre of your teaching philosophies. You’d be surprised how many interviewees appear to forget this!
  • Use education language – What do you know about curriculum, behavioural theories, pedagogy etc? Use appropriate language so we know you have taken on board what you have learnt at uni and on placements – assessment and data, differentiation, strategies etc.
  • Speak slowly – A panel will take notes. The slower you speak the more time they have to write down your responses. It also gives you time to think!! Don’t be afraid to go back and add more.

Good luck! Remember to drop us a line at Surviving and Thriving to tell us your interview experiences!

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