Starting out

29th June 2007 at 01:00
Sara Bubb on nailing an interview and how being an Arsenal fan was the right answer

Everyone dreads interviews, but the best way to conquer nerves is to feel well prepared. Think about what people are looking for. Don't get too intimidated by the God-like criteria outlined in the job specification.

Headteachers may advertise for an "outstanding teacher with drive and excellent knowledge of the curriculum" but they will take the best they can get - especially at this time of year.

Look again at the specification and your application. Now you've had more experience, can you think of ways to demonstrate you're coming close to what the interview panel is looking for?

The questions you'll be asked will be variations on a theme of: Why do you want to teach in this school? What makes a good classroom? Describe a lesson you've taught that went wellbadly. Practise answering questions, ideally looking in a mirror - the occasional smile goes a long way.

On the day itself, what are you going to wear? First impressions count and presentation is important in conveying a feel of you as a person and your professional values. Try to look clean, tidy and smart but not bland - let your personality peek through, or you won't be remembered.

Think about questions before answering. Even if it means a few seconds of silence, it's better than gabbling nervously. If you're stumped, smile and ask them to repeat it. Think what lies beneath a question. For instance, if you're asked to describe your classroom, they don't want to know the colour of the paint or the number of windows. They want to see how your pedagogy and your philosophy is exemplified in the learning environment you set up.

Sometimes you'll be asked a strange question. One teacher was asked what football team he supported. When he answered "Arsenal," the interviewer shouted to the schoolkeeper: "Pete, we've got a Gooner here!" The job was in the bag Sara Bubb is an education consultant specialising in induction. She answers questions on our forums at

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