How to make your interview a success

A teaching job interview invitation shouldn’t be cause for panic. This is your chance to prove you live up to your on-paper credentials. Here are some tips on how to prepare

Tes Editorial

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How can I make my teaching interview a success?

Be prepared

Even the most qualified of us can get hit with a last-minute batch of job interview nerves. The best way to deal with this is to ensure you’re prepared for all the challenges you will face in an interview.

Before the big day, it is worthwhile writing down what makes you the best candidate for this job. In your preparation, you should answer the question of what are the best skills you have and any examples you have that back this up.

It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the school, what its ethos is and revisit the job advertisement so you know what kind of teacher they are looking for. 

However, the best selling point is going to come from having a look at yourself: what is unique about you as an educator? How will the school benefit from having you as an employee? How does this link up with its mission.

More advice for jobseekers

First impressions

As Harry Potter was told in the fifth book, The Order of the Phoenix: “A good first impression can work wonders.” A bad first impression can potentially leave the interviewer with a wrong opinion of you as a teacher – an impression you may find hard to shake.

You should think about where the school is. Ask yourself, how will I get there? If you are driving, what will the traffic be like at that time? The last thing you want to do is turn up late.

Also, make sure you’re wearing something that’s suitable for a job interview. Showing up in tracksuit pants with breakfast spilled down your front is not going to do you any favours.

“First impressions go a long way,” Eloise Healy, Smart’s team leader for Victoria and Tasmania, says. “Be punctual, dress professionally and engage with the interview panel using eye contact and a smile.”

Use examples

It’s all well and good telling the interviewers about what you will do or what you would have done in answer to their questions, but it’s even better if you can tell them of situations in the classrooms where you’ve made the right decisions.

Hypothetical or theoretical answers simply don’t fill panels with as much confidence as example-rich answers. Try to think of an example from your own teaching experiences to back up what it is you are saying. By using real-life examples, you will be able to communicate your point more effectively and with greater passion.

Prepare relevant questions

Asking relevant questions can ensure you have all the information you need to decide whether the job is the right fit for you.

However, that doesn’t mean you should ask questions just for the sake of it. Make sure your questions relate to the role and haven’t already been answered in the job description or during the interview.

“At the end of the interview and when invited by the panel, ask meaningful questions that help you to understand the school better,” Sarah McNamara, Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Western Australia team leader at Smart, advises.

“Avoid asking questions that were answered in the job description, advertisement or other resources shared ahead of the interview.

“Questions about timetables and extracurricular opportunities are examples of good questioning areas. If you can ask a question that shows your interest in getting involved in aspects of the school, like sport or arts, it fills the panel with confidence that you are a person who will go above and beyond.”

You can find some examples of good questions to ask your interview panel in our article on most common interview questions.

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