Accessability Links

Interview Advice

Before the interview

Interviews can be tough, but by being prepared and enthusiastic, you’ll give yourself the best possible chance of success. Teachers sometimes under prepare for this part because they are focused on the lesson.

  • Study the job description carefully to ensure you fully understand the role and what would be expected of you.
  • Prepare examples that demonstrate how your experience will help you succeed in the position.
  • Be ready to refer to situations you have had to deal with, how you handled them, how successful you were, what you learnt from them, and what you would do differently if dealing with them again.
  • Write a list of your strengths with examples of when you have demonstrated these, including any major accomplishments. 
  • Make a list of questions you would expect to be asked and draft responses.
  • Research the school by browsing their website, looking at their Ofsted reports and exam results and Googling for news articles.
  • If you are offered the opportunity to visit the school before your interview, make sure you go along. This will give you the chance to experience the school's dynamics, meet the pupils and staff and get a better understanding of the kind of candidate the school wants.
  • If you are asked to teach a lesson, use the structures given in the National Curriculum to plan an engaging and exciting lesson. Teaching a lesson or leading a pupil activity is very common. You should have had the details of what is expected and time to prepare. Stick with the style of teaching that works well for you but be aware of how to make your lesson outstanding.

During the interview

Smile, be positive and be friendly to everyone you meet throughout your interview day. Thoughtful and enthusiastic candidates are always the people that interviewers remember at the end of the day. Staff members who you’ve met may be canvassed for their views so be aware of that ‘informal’ chat in the staff room.

Interview Techniques

There are a few approaches you can take to answering the questions; two useful ones are 'The Ripple Approach' and 'The Star Technique'.

The Ripple Approach 

For this method of answering questions, you apply your answer first to yourself, and then move further out like ripples on a pond. An example of this could be:

Question:

“What makes you a good teacher?”

Answer:

Your answer should be in four parts, starting at the centre of the ripples and working outwards to the wider community

  • You: planning, preparation, and subject knowledge
  • The pupils: effective assessment, positive environment and relationships, high expectations, clear communications
  • The school: asking for advice, working inter-departmentally, extracurricular activities
  • The community: contact with parents, more extracurricular activities

This kind of structure gives you a clear idea of where to go with your answers, and there are usually examples from your classroom that you will be able to use.

The STAR technique 

The STAR technique is particularly useful for demonstrating the difference that you have made to a particular situation, or other competency based questions.

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Activity, Result.

An example of this in action could be:

Question:

“Can you describe a time when you have dealt with challenging behaviour?”

Answer:

1. Situation

You start off by setting the scene and explaining the situation. For example, “Some of the lower ability students in my Year 8 French class were very disengaged with the subject in general, and when I started at the school, I found that it is hard to teach the class because of the disruptive behaviour of a small number of students.”

2. Task

Set out what it is that you had to do, or the task, “It became apparent that I needed to engage these students with the subject, or it was going to be difficult for the group as a whole to make progress.”

3. Activity

“After going back over the behaviour policy and reinforcing high expectations of student behaviour and attainment, I planned a sequence of lessons that included practical elements around engaging topics using authentic materials, such as a race around the Paris metro system giving directions in French, and lessons on food. If the expectations of behaviour weren’t adhered to, a co-operative languages teacher in another room agreed to take the students, along with some less interesting work that I had prepared and a follow-up call to parents.”

4. Results

“The effects weren’t immediate, but the students who were initially disengaged enjoyed the more practical lessons. It was made clear they needed to get involved in all of the lessons to be able to participate in the more off-the-wall lessons that came up.”

The advantage of the STAR technique is that you can think up a few different scenarios that could apply to a few questions each. For example, the STAR answer above could also be used for a reply around lesson planning.

At the end of the formal interview, you will usually be given a chance to ask some questions. This is your chance to show that you have done your research, and dig below the shiny prospectus and "outstanding" banners and find out what it is like to work in the school. You might want to ask about CPD, lesson observations, opportunities to get involved in the wider school community, or anything else that you have noticed while you’ve been in school.

These days, you may find that part of, or even the whole, interview, is conducted by the students in a 'Pupil Panel'.

Pupil Panel 

The Pupil Panel should be made up of some of the brighter students at the school, and the questions that we’ve heard from teachers who have done these range from:

  • How do you make lessons interesting?
  • What are you like as a teacher?
  • Why do you want to work at the school?
  • What do you think of homework?
  • What music do you like?

The main thing to bear in mind during the pupil panel is that you could be asked anything (within reason) by these students. This can be the hardest part of the interview process to prepare for so just be open and honest and let your personality come through.

After the interview

You will usually be sent back to the staff room and given another coffee while the panel gets together and discusses what they want to do. Although you have done all the hard parts, this wait can feel like the worst bit. The majority of the time, you will be told whether you are going to be offered the job on the day, and expected to accept or decline on the day.

If they offer you the job 

Congratulations! But, before you accept or decline, try to remember any questions that came up while you were waiting in the staff room.

  • Is there anything you're not sure about?
  • Do you need to check anything before you say yes?
  • If you’re happy with everything, go ahead and tell the school you’re going to accept the job
  • If you decide you aren’t going to take the job, be prepared to answer some tricky questions about why. And, give the school honest feedback, it may not be the easiest conversation to have, but it is easier than taking a job in a school you don’t necessarily want.

If they don’t offer you the job

If you’ve made it all the way to the end of the day and find out that you’ve been unsuccessful, it can be heartbreaking not to get the job.  Ask the school for feedback and let them know that you’re still interested if anything else were to come up.

When you get home

It is always worth following up when you get home with a quick thank you message to the email address that you have for the school, these kinds of things will be remembered. If you’ve been asked to send over any paperwork or certificates, get that done as soon as possible.