Dear John: Was my interview illegal, unethical or just plain amateur?


I recently attended a headship interview where one of the candidates arrived armed with a detailed schedule of the day’s activities (panel interviews, tours etc.) whereas all I was sent was a letter telling me what time to arrive and to do a 10 minute presentation. And then the field of three was cut down to one at lunchtime and I never got to present. Clearly, this was a lucky escape, but was the school acting illegally, unethically or just in an amateur fashion?


It was certainly the last, possibly the latter and, if they were treating some candidates differently, then at least questionable on the first count. This is especially if equal opportunities or discrimination could be alleged. As we have seen this week in Islington, the market mechanism that gives power to schools can, as anywhere else, lead to a lack of understanding about the need for rules and in some cases even perhaps a cavalier attitude to them. As you say, you have a lucky escape: would you have wanted to work in a school that treated some staff so differently from others?

John Howson worked as a secondary school teacher in London for seven years before moving into teacher training and consultancy, including a brief period as a chief government advisor. John is now a recruitment analyst, visiting professor of education at Oxford Brookes University and hosts our Career Clinic where you can post questions to him.