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Best of times, worst of times

ADRIAN DAVIES Head of Caerleon Secondary, Caerleon, Newport.

'In the little corner of Wales where I was born - Pembrokeshire - teaching carried immense status. It was seen as a very good career in the mid-60s. By the time I reached the sixth form it was a foregone conclusion that I would choose teaching. I went straight from school, into university and then into the profession.

My first job was at Derby's college of further education. After that I came back to Wales and have stayed ever since.

Interviews throughout my career have been fairly straightforward, fairly traditional.

At times I felt they could have gone better. In a number of cases I was quite surprised I got the job; I didn't feel I'd done that well.

It's a perception I've also seen as a head when appointing staff. People say they thought they interviewed very badly when they had actually interviewed exceptionally well. So staff perception of their own performance at interview is not always accurate.

On one occasion I was interviewed by the entire governing body. Somehow or other I found a chair in the corner of what was a fairly small library.

The emphasis is on you trying to keep them awake. At one school, a governor sat reading the local paper during my interview. Whether that was a deliberate ploy or not I don't know.

The interview process has changed. Now we not only examine the candidates' knowledge, but also try to discover more about the person. And, frankly, these days it's more about the ability of the candidate to withstand the tremendous workload that's placed on teachers, trying to gauge how they will come to terms with an exceptionally demanding job.

My advice to candidates is to be yourself. Be totally prepared to answer everything on your subject content. Also, I look for a sense of humour and for them to come over as flexible. Those are key.

Martin Whittaker

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