Help, I've got an interview! * * * BASIC ADVICE * * *

11th May 2013 at 01:00

Help, I've got an interview!  * * * BASIC ADVICE * * *



Well done! Getting the interview is a pretty good thing to have done, when you bear in mind that some posts have hundreds, hundreds, of applicants.  So you have already impressed the interviewing panel enough to be chosen.


So here are our interview tips.


Starting the preparation for that interview

You could spend days thinking up the answers to 1,000 questions, and learning them off by heart. Really preparing hard. On the other hand, you could prepare smart, not hard. Here are some ideas for that.


Interview by Mind Map

A million times better than interview by 1,000 questions with the answers by heart!


Using mind-mapping for interviews  


Interview by USP

Get your USPs, your Unique Selling Points clear in your mind! I always think that it’s good to prepare for interview by identifying three or four key points about yourself that you want to get over to the panel. They have to be about YOU, not key points that someone else has suggested, because they have to want YOU, because it’s YOU that’s going to have to do the job, fit in with the rest of the school, etc, so giving them answers that don’t show YOU but someone else is plain daft.


They are called USPs because you are, basically, selling yourself.


So think of your USPs:

I have good communication skills with parents.

I am very committed to the pastoral side of teaching.

I am prepared to work my socks off for the children. 

I am very analytical and clear-headed. I am very caring about the whole child.

I think academic success for all students must be our aim.  (This is too many...)


Having identified your USPs, you then draw up a mind map with the examples of things that you’ve done that show off these points. Only three mind you, a maximum of 4 in exceptional circumstances.

Whatever they are - and it’s unlikely anyone would have the variety I have given as examples! When you get a question, ask yourself: Is there one of my USPs that I can illustrate here?

This should allow you to give a picture of who you are and your strengths.


Interview by ripple effect

A really helpful idea from the poster 'A Kirk':

I always make sure that my answers followed a specific pattern (a ripple effect, as when you throw a pebble into water), and when I gave my answers to questions such as behaviour management, or 'what makes you a good teacher', I answered in the following way:

Me (teacher) -> The pupils -> The school -> The community

So for example:   'What makes you a good teacher'

Me - planning, preparation, assessment, delivery (etc there is loads more but it’s all about you!)

The pupils - mixture of formative and summative assessment, clear expectations, positive atmosphere and feedback, etc.

The school - professional development (if you participated or delivered some yourself) sharing resources, observing others, self evaluation of teaching, not afraid to ask experienced teachers advice, working with other departments, etc.

The community - parents (how you keep in contact with them), charity links, extra-curricular activities, etc.

I find this 'ripple effect' really helped me when answering questions, as I visualised where I wanted to go with my answers, and always had examples from my classroom. Not just that, the ripple was a calming image too in a stressful interview situation!

I really wish all the best to everyone applying for jobs - and cannot recommend enough this forum to help you answer all the questions you need to know.

Good luck and best wishes, A Kirk


Very helpful, thank you A Kirk


Interview lessons

Most teaching positions up to head of department and assistant head include an observed lesson. For deputy head it’s about 50/50, and for headships it’s even less common. These last two tend to have other tasks, such as observing and feeding back on a lesson, or giving an assembly.


For more advice on doing an observed lesson, read this

Teaching an observed lesson at interview


Here are some more articles that may be of help to you in preparing for an interview:


Tell us about yourself - dream or nightmare question?   More on the use of USPs as above

Daft Interview Questions 

What shall I wear to the interview?

Interviews – making a positive first impression 

How do you decide who to appoint?

What excuse can I give for going to interview?

Child Protection: the questions, NOT the answers

A typical Child Protection Policy

Two interviews and a dilemma

Interview feedback - they blamed my experience, but they knew that when they shortlisted me!

General interview questions

Questions to ask at the end of your interview


Leadership interviews:

SLT interviews - possible questions

In-tray exercises. Deputy Head

Assistant Head interviews

Presentations for Leadership posts  (Thanks to poster nomad for his hints here)


Teaching Assistant  interviews:  

Here are some ideas posted by people who have been for posts as TAs


Interview questions for T/A

Interview task for TA post


For general interview preparation, here are some helpful websites. 

They are not specifically for teaching posts, but give some useful advice.


University of Leicester Careers     



Best wishes - and best of luck everyone