Interviews make even the most confident people nervous, but a little bit of preparation can go a long way. We have put together 10 interview tips to help you prepare for success and leave a lasting impression.
Talk with your Coordinator to familiarise yourself with the position/role you have been put forward for. Ensure you know what the work entails and what kind of person the school is looking for.
Take another look at your CV and be clear about what you have said about yourself, ensure you can explain any gaps in your employment record. Don’t make things up – you are likely to be asked to give practical examples for anything you have stated on your CV/application form.
Research the school by looking at their Ofsted reports, their school results, the school website and prospectus. If you are offered the opportunity to work at or visit the school beforehand, do. This will give you a chance to experience the school’s dynamics, speak to the children and staff and get an idea of the sort of candidate the school is looking for.
The interview is your opportunity to highlight your skills and achievements, strengths and ambitions. You will need to be able to explain how you are the perfect person for the advertised role, how you fit the criteria of the job description and person specification (you need to know the job description inside and out). Remember that the interview is a two way process, you need to be sure that the school you are interviewing at is absolutely right for you in terms of how you will fit in, how well you will be supported and how well the school is going to help you to progress further.
Be prepared. You can’t prepare an answer for every interview question, but make you do for some of the most common ones:
- Why did you apply for the position?
- Why do you want to work in this school?
- Describe a lesson that went well for you?
- Describe a lesson that did not go well for you and what you did about it, or would do about it in the future?
- If I walked into your classroom during an outstanding lesson, what would I see and hear?
- What would you do to develop positive relationships with pupils?
- Describe your classroom after two months of starting your new job?
- How would you contribute to the school as a whole?
- What qualities do you think make a good teacher?
- What are the key qualities and skills that students look for in teachers?
- What are your main strengths and weaknesses as a teacher?
- Can you tell me about a successful behaviour management strategy you have used in the past that helped engage a pupil or group of pupils?
- How do you plan and structure lessons?
- What are your career aspirations?
- How do you envisage working with parents?
- How do you think your previous or current colleagues would describe you as a person and as a practitioner?
- If we decided not to appoint you, what would we be missing out on?
Make sure you know exactly what the interview process involves. Check with your Teach in the UK coordinator to make sure that they have given you all of the necessary information. It might be that you want them to contact the school to ask for additional information to help in your preparation, to find out if there will be more than one interview and if a school are likely to request you to teach for a trial days/lesson.
If you are required to teach for the day or a single lesson make sure you ask:
- Who will be observing?
- What will I be required to teach?
- How long is each timetables lesson?
- What level should the lesson be pitched at, are the students taught in ability sets?
- Are there any students in the class with special educational needs?
- What resources will be available including logins to interactive whiteboards etc?
- Will the class have a learning support assistant/TA?
Make sure that you plan your route, including how long the journey will take. It is vital that you arrive at the interview punctually. Organise what you are going to wear the night before and make sure that you dress appropriately.
Be polite and friendly to all the school staff that you met throughout your interview day. Although the majority of staff will not be involved in the interview, you are likely to meet many of them throughout the day and their views are often canvassed, so watch out for that ‘informal’ chat in the staffroom. Tours by pupils are becoming increasingly common, so if you are talking to groups or individual students make sure that you take an interest in them.
Read up about preparing for successful interviews. Speak with your Teach in the UK contact for advice. We probably have had candidates interview at the school before, so we will be able to give you an idea on what to expect.
- Try and keep calm and relaxed, but remember it is normal to have nerves.
- Greet the interviewer/s with a smile and a firm handshake.
- Maintain eye contact with the interviewer/s while talking to them, and if others are present, speak to them as well.
- Don’t talk too much, make sure you listen to the questions and answer them concisely.
- Don’t answer questions too quickly as it can seem that you have over prepared so reflect then respond.
- Don’t be negative, you may have had some negative experiences, but don’t focus on them. Schools do not want to hear negative things about
- other schools and staff. Focus on the positive ones, or talk about what you have learned from the negative ones.
- Don’t try to be a comedian, make sure that you stay professional at all times but do let your personality shine through.
- Prepare a list of questions that you can ask at the interview, you will always be asked if you have any questions.
At the end of an interview always thank the employer for interviewing you. It is always a good idea to send an email thanking an employer for interviewing you and reaffirming your interest in the position.
If you have been unsuccessful, start thinking about how to do better next time! Always ask for feedback, the more feedback you get the better you will perform next time. Try and get feedback on everything, from your CV to lesson observation reports. Don’t give up, there is a lot of competition out there, and it can be the smallest of things that result in a school offering the job to someone else. We will continue to work with you to secure that perfect position. So tip 10 is really learn from this experience to make your next interview even better.
If you have been successful, congratulations, you did a great job!