Using mind-mapping for interviews

15th May 2013 at 01:00

Using mind-mapping for interviews


My main advice for interviews is always: do NOT learn answers off by heart! Much better to have prepared topic areas, thematic preparation, than just standard answers that you recite like a Dalek.


Mind maps

The way to do this is by preparing mind maps of the topics that you are likely to be discussing in the interview. These topics are, of course, the ones that are part of your executive summary, because they are the topics identified by the school in their job description and person specification. You should also look at the Teachers’ Standards, and use their headers for mind maps too. Here’s a nice neat one-page version for you.


I suggest that you also do a mind map for safeguarding – look at the blog posts about child protection and safeguarding for ideas here. And of course, for each of the key points about yourself that you want to get over. 


There are lots of websites and books to help you with mind-mapping. Here’s a nice clear example


There are also several short videos on YouTube that explain the principles and give examples.


I like this one:


How to mind map


and also this one:


How to mind-map tutorial



Here is poster Middlemarch's very helpful suggestion for how you set up your mind maps:


I suggest that you change the way you prepare and do the following:


  1. Take the job description, NQT standards, etc and begin to prepare a series of large mind maps.  One might be 'behaviour management', another 'starters and plenaries', 'assessment for learning' and so on.
  2. Develop these over time - do a bit on each for five minutes at a time, leave it and go on to another.  You'll find that in this way you get further ideas for the ones you've been doing, so go back and add to them.
  3. Keep adding to them - add examples of your own experience, practice and so on. If you want, link them to the kinds of questions you've been asked at interviews, but don't make that the key point - you're developing your ability to think and talk about issues without learning stock answers.
  4. Take each map and talk to yourself - out loud if you like - about each point, as if telling someone else about it. I still do this as I'm driving along and I'm not going for interviews - but I find it helps me clarify and develop my thinking on issues.


That's my interview preparation method - it means that whatever I'm asked I can pull out my thinking and develop an answer - because a good interview answer sounds for all the world like you're talking about it to a colleague.


With thanks to Middlemarch for this.


So to sum up

I will say that this sort of preparation is intelligent preparation, rather than parrot-preparation. You will find your own way of doing the maps and of practising using them, so what you say comes naturally because it is what you think and believe.


Best wishes