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Interview preparation – teaching

What do I need to do before an interview?

Give yourself plenty of time to:

  • Research the role and the school. For example, the school website will include statutory information such as the latest Ofsted report, curriculum information and examination results
  • Find out what the prospective employer is actually looking for and, if at all possible, arrange a visit to the school before you submit your application
  • Prepare any teaching materials or resources that you may need in advance. There is no set format for teaching interviews. Usually there will be some form of teaching or another practical activity, and a formal interview which could be with a panel of the headteacher, other senior teachers and governors. However, teaching activities vary from school to school. You may be asked to teach a small group or a whole class. This could be for a 10-minute oral and mental starter for a mathematics lesson, or a 50-minute lesson of your choice. The school should specify in advance what is required, including the age range of children you will be asked to teach. If not, ring up and ask the school to clarify what is required
  • Think about how well your experience, interests and skills fit the job and the school
  • Anticipate questions you might be asked, then prepare answers to those questions

You should also:

  • Plan the day of the interview, especially your journey, with an aim to arrive ten minutes early
  • Take care in deciding what to wear. Suits and businesswear are the best option, but ensure you will be comfortable to teach

How do I make a good impression at a job interview?

Stand out for all the right reasons by ensuring you:

  • Arrive on time or slightly early
  • Listen carefully to questions and answer them concisely
  • Use any preparation time available before your teaching activity to set up carefully. If there is a teaching assistant present, talk them through what you are going to teach and suggest how they can support the children. Ask about positive behaviour rewards, such as house points, and use these to motivate the children
  • Highlight your best attributes in the interview. Think beforehand about what you want the interviewer to know about you (in relation to the job) during the interviewing process
  • Pay attention to how you communicate – remember that non-verbal communication sometimes overpowers verbal communication
  • Show that you are a reflective practitioner. If your teaching does not go as well as you would have liked, be ready to explain this in your interview, as well as how you would change it next time
  • Practise anything you're concerned about. This could be saying your answers aloud, which builds confidence, or having a trial run of the journey to the interview

What techniques can I use to control my nerves?

In interviews nerves can make you forget to do simple things such as smiling and listening, which can result in being thought of as unfriendly or inattentive. You're less likely to be nervous if you're adequately prepared so you should:

  • Give yourself time before the interview to think about the unique qualities you will bring to the post
  • Think of practical examples to demonstrate what you have achieved, drawing on all aspects of your working, educational and social life
  • Write notes and take these along to the interview
  • Use cues in your notes to highlight examples that you want to use
  • Pause before answering a difficult question, to give yourself time to think
  • Use positive language, as interviewers will be assessing your motivation and enthusiasm
  • Ask for clarification if you’re unsure of what a question means

What should I take to a job interview?

  • Your invitation to interview should detail everything you need to bring. Often employers request examination certificates, which can take time to locate, so make sure you check what you need in plenty of time
  • It’s always worth having a pen and notebook with you. If you are giving a presentation, take a copy on a data stick (even if you have emailed it to the school beforehand), along with copies of the slides to use as handouts for the interview panel

If you take a mobile phone, make sure it is switched to silent or off before entering the organisation