Ready for interview

Some will spend hours cramming vast amounts of information just in case they are asked something obscure, while others will wear their best smile and hope that luck is on their side. But somewhere in between these contrasting approaches, you should find the right way to prepare successfully for interview.

The job specification is the key that will provide you with the framework for interview preparation.  You used it well in your job application where you demonstrated through real-life examples ways that you meet each specific criterion. And now you must do it all again but this time instead of writing short sentences about it, you will be discussing this with your interviewers.  So what kind of approach should you take in readiness for this? Here are some headteacher tips:
Think of two or three work examples for each criterion on the job specification that you can talk about in detail.  If you have evidence, such as lesson plans or evaluations related to this bring it along and ask if they would like to see it.  But remember not to take too much with you, just a few select examples.

  • Be clear about what you actually achieved in these tasks in relation to the job specification criteria; make some notes but nothing extensive.
  • Be aware of relevant initiatives and legislation e.g. Disability Discrimination Act, Every Child Matters, Education Act etc so that you are able to summarise the main points.
  • Be willing to talk about any continuing professional development courses and the impact on your practice
  • Think about your approach to behaviour management and summarise this
  • Think about how you include and provide for special needs children
  • Be aware of key issues facing the school; its strengths and development needs ( do your homework on the school – check out Ofsted reports; the school’s website and development plans and ,if available, the governors annual report to parents, exam results, league tables, the school’s prospectus etc)
  • Make a list of exactly what you’ve accomplished in your career and read through this just before the interview to help ensure you have plenty of examples to draw on)
  • Think of  your transferable skills from experience both within the profession and outside  

John Howson, TES Careers Expert, feels it is important to train yourself to answer open questions often used as a warm up at the start of the interview: “Be prepared for the ‘why’ question, as in ‘why do you want this job?’ He also advises candidates to have an interview practice run with a critical friend; that way they can point out any mannerisms that might annoy interviewers.

On a practical level, there are some fundamental rules that candidates should follow, says Owen Scott, Senior Executive of Protocol Education: 

Do:

  • Arrive on time, and look the part
  • Relax, smile and enjoy yourself
  • If you are asked to prepare a trial lesson, stick with something tried and tested.  Now is not the time to experiment.
  • All of your responses should be succinct and to the point.
  • Do ask questions

Don’t:

  • Criticise the school
  • Talk too much or offer too many controversial opinions on education and behaviour
  • Don’t cover up the truth, you could be exposed
  • Don’t take too many examples of work with you

Don’t feel you have to accept every job offered – Take some time to decide, but not too long!

“As well as all of this, you must not forget to plan your route to the school so that you arrive in good time,” adds Mr Scott.

Lastly, keep in mind that you’re not the only one under the spotlight, advises Howson.  “Remember, it is a two way process, you are gaining information about whether this is a place where you want to work,” he says.

With thanks to Jayne Halliwell, headteacher at Park Walk Primary School, in Chelsea, London and Laura Wynne, headteacher of Argyle Primary School, in St Pancras, London

Do you have any good interview tips? Share them below.

Need more advice? Visit the Ultimate guide to jobseeking