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‘Three Top Tips from Tom’ will be updated weekly with the best advice and tips on behaviour and classroom management.

Tom Bennett is the TES adviser on behaviour and a teacher at Raines Foundation, an inner city state school in Tower Hamlets. He regularly supports teachers on TES through our behaviour forum and monthly newsletters on behaviour.

You’re Hired: how to convey you understand behaviour at interview

Something I get asked from time to time is ‘what should I say at an interview in order to convince them I can control classes/ manage behaviour/ promote learning?’ Now FAR be it from me to suggest strategies to pull the wool over any interviewer’s eyes and ears; I would be much happier suggesting that you say what you believe in order to convey (and indeed possess) integrity and a strong belief in your own pedagogy. So here are some of the ideas that I have used, heard and recommended that indicate you’re serious about getting the job:

  1. Being aware of the whole school behaviour policy. This is vital. Every school should have a clear and transparent system in place in order to communicate shared values and expectations. If you walk into an interview and you haven’t done your homework about what the school already does, then hang your head in shame - you’re no better than those invertebrates that get as far as interview week on ‘The Apprentice’ and apparently don’t know who Alan Sugar is and what he sells. You might not agree with everything the school policies say, but you don’t join an institution that doesn’t belong to you and expect to make up the rules for yourself. You’re part of a team; so prepare to be one.
  2. Indicate you know what good behaviour actually means.Me, I like a quiet class; unless I want them to be talking about something. I like order. I like a bit of peace. I don’t like that because I’m a reactionary Gradgrind. I like that because I think it leads to better lessons; it leads to an educational space where the maximum learning is possible, because kids aren’t crawling over each other to steal each others’ phones or start cults or whatever. Good behaviour is prior to good learning, or at least simultaneous to it. ‘Good’ behaviour is behaviour that maximises learning, both social and academic. Quiet isn’t always good; noisy isn’t always bad. But I know when it needs to be quiet, and why.
  3. Show that you know IN ADVANCE of good or bad behaviour what you’ll do. This indicates that you’re proactive rather than reactive, and that you won’t be paralysed the first time someone fails to bring a pen in or tells you to do one (Cockney cuss). It also shows that you’re planned for success, and that your lesson will be smooth even when waves threaten to over turn your tiny raft. It’s the teaching equivalent of having a life belt, rations and flares in your dry box. So talk about the kind of strategies you employ, or have already employed, that work in different situations.

Interviews are a trial for some, and a breeze for others. Having your behaviour answers ready before you go in will reduce the chance of your throat drying up and looking stupid. Which of course you won’t because you’re fabulous.

Good luck


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