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Log on to the interviews from hell

Being a teacher demands faultless self-control and effective organisation, and seldom more so than during a job interview. Perhaps that is why they have a tendency to go so horribly wrong.

Contributors to the TES online staffroom forum have been comparing their worst job interview experiences. For some, errors are simple. One teacher casually mentioned to the panel that he did not agree with science being taught as a subject. Unfortunately, he was applying for a post as head of science. "Didn't get the job," he writes.

Then there are the verbal tics, things candidates know they should not say but which slip out all the same. One contributor said: "I referred to some of the kids I was teaching as 'little brats'. Head asked me if I was sure I wanted to follow a career in teaching."

Another recalled: "Walked into the interview, went to shake hands with the headteacher, didn't notice the low coffee table in front of his desk, and went over. I was sprawled on his carpet, covered in milk and Rich Tea biscuits. Didn't get the job."

Yet another ended an otherwise successful interview by standing up, thanking the panel and walking into a broom cupboard.

Dramatic performances rarely reap rewards. One hopeful recalls an interview waiting-room in which candidates discovered a box of Muppet masks. They decided to liven up proceedings by trying on the masks. "When the next candidate was called, it was me," he said. "I was the only candidate who could be seen by the interview panel, and I was wearing a Fozzy Bear mask."

Result? "I didn't get the job."

But not all teachers lost out. For a few, the trials of the interview were redeemed with a job offer. One former candidate describes how she appeared at school half an hour late and soaking wet after getting lost and walking for miles in the rain. Result? "Got the job! The interviewer said it showed I had stamina."

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