How to make your interview a success

A teaching job interview invite shouldn’t be cause for panic. This is your chance to prove you live up to your on-paper credentials. Here are some tips 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 what examples do you have that back this up.

Tyson Wood, Australian manager at Smart Teachers, says: “It is easy to re-read the advertisement, job description and visit the school’s website ahead of the interview. However, the best way to prepare is to look at yourself.

“What are your unique selling points? How do you do the job in such a way that will bring benefit to the school you are interviewing with?

“Think about the key cornerstones to your success as a teacher and how they will bring benefit to the school. For each, think of examples that show how these cornerstones have brought success to the schools you have worked in.”

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. Now’s not the time to take risks. You can’t go wrong with a well-fitted suit or a dress of a solid, dark colour. So choose wisely. 

“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 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.

Smart’s team leader in Queensland and Northern Territory Chris Wilson says: “Contextualise as much as possible in all your responses. The best interview responses are those driven by examples.

“Hypothetical or theoretical answers simply don’t fill panels with as much confidence as example rich answers.

“Moreover, if you are talking about real experiences from your past, ones you are proud and have prepared, you will be able to communicate with greater flow and 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 understand the school better,” Sarah McNamara, ACT, NSW 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, 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.”

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