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Interviews aren't what they used to be, says David Selman.

I was fortunate in the early years of my teaching career. I had some idea of where I wanted to go - two years in my first job, three years in promoted second job, five years head of department and, after 10 years, deputy head.

And I managed it. My experience of job interviews then was untypical - I applied for a job, I'd go for the interview, I'd get it. I think size may have been on my side - I'm 6ft 3in.

In those early days, there was never much talk about educational philosophy or anything like that. For my first couple of jobs, I was asked if I believed in corporal punishment or school uniform, and that was it.

Up to deputy head level my face always seemed to fit. But from deputy head onwards I never enjoyed interviews. Getting a headship took a while. I seemed to go for interviews non-stop. I probably visited every school in England south of Doncaster.

I learned to deal with the knock-backs and general disappointments. And it became difficult to face colleagues when I came back to school the next day. The best interview I can recall is the one for my current post almost 20 years ago. I knew things had gone well and I was likely to be offered the job. It was the vibes, the treatment I got from the interview panel.

Interviewing is the most important job a head does. Schools are only as good as the teachers in them. So we place a great deal of importance on the whole appointment procedure - or we used to before the recruitment crisis. We took time over it, and candidates would find interviews testing.

And rightly so, because I believe that if a candidate can't hack it in an interview and under pressure of an interview, his or her ability to hack it under pressure in the classroom is also in question.

Over the past few years, though, everything has changed. Now we frequently interview by email or telephone to the other side of the world. And things have to be done with almost indecent haste in an effort to get the vacancies filled. If you hang around you're going to lose the candidate.

This doesn't mean we are appointing teachers we otherwise wouldn't, but by and large headteachers are not testing candidates as rigorously as they did five years ago. In the end, you must ask yourself - would I like this teacher to teach my own child? You've always got to have that in the back in your mind.

David Selman is head of Misbourne school, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire

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