Best of times, worst of times

23rd February 2001 at 00:00
TONY NEAL, head of De Aston School, Market Rasen, North Lincolnshire

My first interview was at a public school. I don't quite know why I went there because I don't think I ever had any serious intention of taking the job.

It was almost a caricature - I was interviewed by a head who lolled languidly on a recliner with his feet on a foot stool.

And the main burden of the interview was asking me whether a working-class lad from up north would fit into this environment.

The interview ended wholly inconclusively - I wasn't actually offered the job, but went away being asked to get back to them if I wanted to go ahead with the application.

By the time the time limit was up, I'd already got a job in a grammar school about to become a comprehensive in Hertfordshire.

The first interview I had for a head of department post was at a school in Nottinghamshire, and my car broke down on the way.

I arrived lae and walked straight into my interview, to be confronted by the whole governing body. There seemed to be about 50 of them, all resembling either Lady Chatterley or Mellors.

And the first question I was asked was "what is maths?" So I went into a philosophical disquisition on the subject - and it wasn't until the debrief that I realised that the answer they wanted was basically "bugger off and don't ask me such silly questions".

It's 16 years now since I was interviewed for a job, so I've never been through all the stuff we do these days of tasks to do and discussion groups. It's all good stuff - you can't gainsay it.

But it all comes down to the same thing in the end - the chemistry between the person being interviewed and the interviewers.

You try to set up a programme which is as fair and revealing as possible and that's the professional business. But I think in the end the job finds the person.

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