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Teacher Supply North East

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Interview Advice

If you've been invited to an interview for a teaching job, you've already passed the most difficult hurdle! Follow these expert tips on what to prepare and how to conduct yourself on the day to get a great graduate teaching job.

There are two main kinds of interview for newly qualified teacher (NQT) posts:
  1. Pool interviews take place at local authority (LA) offices or in a school. A panel of LA advisers, recruitment personnel and headteachers will interview you. If you are successful, you will be placed on a list which is circulated to schools in the LA. Schools then invite their preferred candidate(s) from the list to an informal meeting at which a position may be offered.
  2. Interviews for a specific post at a school. You will need to research the school thoroughly and be prepared to give a demonstration lesson. You are likely to be assessed on the way you interact with children throughout the day. The school will offer you the position if you are successful.
Whether you get invited to a pool or a school interview for your first teaching post, you’ll need to do the right research, know what to expect and approach it with a positive attitude.
Research the school

A school will want to feel certain that the potential employee is in sympathy with the school ethos and likely to get on well both with teachers and young learners. Find out as much as you can about the school before the interview, including its locality, size, catchment area, ethos, and where its strengths lie.

Sources of useful information include:
 
  1. the application pack for the post
  2. the school’s website
  3. the school’s Ofsted report
  4. local newspaper archives.
Keep up to date with the educational press – you are very likely to be asked about your views on current issues.

School visits – meeting the people and sampling the environment

Schools will often invite applicants to visit before an interview. This is a great opportunity to ask questions and get a sense of the school’s atmosphere and culture. Prepare a set of questions and take the opportunity to get responses from the range of teachers you meet.

Trust your gut instincts – as much of 70 % of communication is non-verbal. As you walk around and meet with people, weigh up things such as the warmth of the reception staff, the friendliness of the teachers, the condition of the school, the opportunities for continuing professional development and the school's track record with NQTs.

At the end of the day assess whether you feel relaxed and ask yourself if you really want to work there.

Make a good first impression with your interviewers

On interview days, you need to show yourself in the best light from the moment you step onto the premises.
 
  1. Arrive in good time for your interview.
  2. A firm handshake, genuine smile and eye contact will help you relax and establish a rapport with the interviewers.
  3. Take a notebook, pen and any documentation requested.
  4. Take a carefully chosen portfolio of work from your professional placements to share with the interview panel as evidence of your good practice.
  5. If the interview is at a school, aim to comply with their dress code (if you’re uncertain what this is, telephone the school to find out) – but you should also feel at ease in what you wear.
  6. In the interview room, wait until you’re invited to sit down.
  7. Be conscious of the pace and tone of your speech and avoid colloquial language.
  8. Be as enthusiastic and positive as you can.
The interview process: what to expect on the day

A school interview often starts with an informal talk to all the candidates by a senior member of staff. Pupils may then take you on a tour of the building(s) – expect their views about you to be sought by the interview panel.

The panel is likely to consist of the headteacher and a school governor (and a subject specialist in an interview for a secondary post). The interview will last about 40–50 minutes. In addition to finding out why you want to teach and whether you’re confident in your practice and subject knowledge, the panel will want to ascertain that you’ll fit in with the staff and the way the school is managed.

It is very common for an NQT to be asked to give a demonstration lesson as part of the selection process. You will be advised in advance how long the lesson will last and what content to prepare. There’s no need for undue alarm! You will have gained the necessary skills during your training year to do this successfully and you’ll also have the support of a member of the interview panel throughout.

Give yourself time to compose your reply

Listen to the question that’s being asked and take a moment to consider and compose your reply. You’ll then know where your answer is heading and will avoid any temptation to ramble or be monosyllabic! Give real examples from your experience to back up your answers.

Interviewers will be keen to see what ‘extras’ a candidate can offer. So, whether you can coach a sport, play a musical instrument or run a club, let the panel know – such contributions to school life are always welcomed and it may well give you the edge.

Your questions for the interviewers

You will be asked at the end of the interview if you have any questions – prepare these beforehand, for example:
 
  1. What induction support programme is on offer?
  2. Will you be able to visit other schools, observe other teachers’ practice and meet fellow NQTs?
  3. What sort of continuing professional development is available?
You need to be totally confident that you would be well supported and that you would feel comfortable about working in this school before accepting any offer of employment.

Be prepared for a quick decision

Once all candidates have been interviewed, you may be asked to wait while the panel makes its decision. The chairperson of the panel will then invite the preferred candidate back into the interview room to make an offer of employment. As soon as the panel has received oral acceptance, the remaining candidates will normally be told that the job has been offered to another applicant.

If you receive a job offer, you may feel that you are not able to accept the post on the spot, for example if you have another interview in the pipeline for a job which you would prefer. Be honest with the panel and you will usually be given a sympathetic response. It would not be unreasonable to ask for 24 hours to decide.

If you wish to accept an offer of appointment, you should initially make an oral provisional acceptance, subject to receipt of final details of the appointment in writing. Once you have received this, confirm your acceptance in writing.

Making the decision on the day may be daunting, but if you’ve done your homework on the school, you’ll be in a good position to know whether the job is right for you.

If you are not successful, ask for feedback. Approach this reflectively and make use of it for next time. Focus on the positive aspects of the experience and develop the attitude that there will be a more suitable job for you to apply to in the future.