Am I alone in dreading interviews? They make me so nervous that, although my ears hear the questions, they don't seem to penetrate to my brain, so I can't understand them, let alone think of sensible answers. Well, if you want to conquer nerves and do better, you need to prepare. Once you've done the essentials, which in my book are to plan the journey and decide what to wear, you need to think about questions the panel might ask. The more you think up some answers to predictable questions, the more confident you'll feel. And success at interviews is all about feeling confident.
You're likely to be asked:
* Why did you decide to be a teacher?
* Why do you want to work in this school?
* What makes a good classroom?
* Describe a lesson you've taught that went well.
* How important are classroom displays?
* If you found that one of the groups you were teaching did not appear to be responding or learning, what would you do?
* How would you handle difficult behaviour?
* Tell us about an aspect of your teaching practice you described in your statement.
* How would you ensure that all children were treated equally in your class?
* How would you like to work with parents?
* How do you approach planningmarking assessment?
* How do you exploit opportunities for literacy and numeracy in your subject?
* How do you plan to keep up to date?
* What can you offer the school - from an educational and a personal perspective?
You can plan answers to these sorts of questions, using examples from your experience, or from observations of other teachers.
Practise answering questions in the mirror so you can see what you look like. Take along a lesson plan and some of the work that came out of it, so you can illustrate your assertions with concrete examples. When you're in the room, you need to relax - breathe deeply, wriggle your toes or do whatever works for you. Consider questions before answering and don't be frightened of a few seconds' silence - it's better than gabbling nervously.
Be reflective. If the panel asks about an area you're weak on, turn it into a positive. Give an example of how you picked up an unfamiliar subject quickly, or how a disastrous teaching experience taught you valuable lessons in flexibilitypositive behaviour managementrecord-keeping and so on.
If you're stumped on a question, smile, and ask them to repeat it, or play for time by saying: "Hmmm, that's an interesting issue." Be enthusiastic, make eye contact and smile - no one expects you to be perfect (except yourself), but they will want someone who is keen, friendly, and prepared to approach unfamiliar situations with intelligence.
The interview panel will ask if you have any questions. You will have, and they'll be written down, so you come across as bright and proactive. Ask about professional development and induction support. The job's in the bag.
Sara Bubb's The New Teacher's Survival Guide: succeeding in training and induction will be published by TESKogan Page in July