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John Howson is a recruitment analyst and visiting professor of education at Oxford Brookes University.

To ask him a question, email him at

Q How can I create the "wow" factor in an interview? I've just unsuccessfully had my first interview for an assistant head. I know I can do the job but had difficulty convincing the panel.

A I assume that your belief that it was the interview that let you down is based upon the feedback you received rather than your own assessment.

You may be correct, since your application form was good enough to get you to the interview stage, but there is always the risk that an interview panel has made up its mind before a candidate has even sat down. Last time there may have been a better candidate.

However, let's assume you were up against candidates of equal worth. Ensure you can provide examples of your recent leadership experience, even if not at a senior level. Managing people, taking a strategic overview of problems and generally being able to rise above the day-to-day classroom tasks are the sort of things you need to be able to talk about.

Finally, try to put all this in the context of the needs of the particular school, as this will demonstrate you have done your homework.

Q I am a secondary maths teacher and am considering a change to primary teaching. Any advice or practical ideas?A Many teachers contemplate this sort of job change. There are also many unemployed primary would-be returners and newly qualified teachers from the past couple of years who are desperate for jobs. You need to take these factors into account before taking any career move that might lead to unemployment on your part. Ask yourself, why would a primary head employ me - what do I bring to the job that a well qualified primary new teacher or existing teacher doesn't? If you haven't been near a primary school in years, then engineer a visit and a chance to talk with a primary head. If you are dissatisfied with secondary teaching, ask yourself why and do an audit of your skills and what you are looking for. Then look for job opportunities that may meet your criteria. There are lots of non-classroom jobs advertised in The TES and on the website. I am sorry to appear negative, but this is not a straightforward change and can produce heartache if not properly researched

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