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Best of times, worst of times

KEN DALY Head of All Saints RC School, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire.

'My first job was here. I was fortunate enough to be offered two jobs in one day, one in Coventry and one here at what was then a new school. The attraction of this school was that it offered me sixth-form teaching straight away.

Apart from a year in Australia on teacher exchange, I have stayed here. Every time I was looking for a new challenge, something new came along. After about three years I got to be a head of year; after another couple of years I had chance to be head of sixth form with a bit more curriculum involvement; then deputy head.

I have been for interviews outside the school, for deputy headships and senior teacher posts. None was overly traumatic, though I think they've changed. There wasn't quite the interrogation that you might get now. Clearly as you go up the scale the questions become wider ranging.

The thing that struck me was how many people have been interviewing. I remember going for a head of English job where there were about 12 governors sitting in a long row. That was not quite off-putting, but it was interesting.

Here we try to put people at ease, so they can be themselves. We like to give people time to assess us as well as us assessing them. It's a two way thing: people have to feel comfortable in this environment.

We had one interview where what swung it for the governors was the way a candidate explained some work they'd brought along, took us through it confidently, articulately. That gave them an insight into the way this person would teach in the classroom.

Interviewing is as hard on the interviewer as the interviewee sometimes. It can be demanding on the people asking the questions and listening to the answers for several candidates in a row and trying to make a judgment. So a bit of sympathy for the interviewers wouldn't go amiss.

Martin Whittaker

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