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Are you ready for your interview?

10 July 2017

In the third and final post from our short series of articles about getting your next role, we've put together some simple hints and tips for preparing for your interview.

Excellent – you’re through the door, you’ve had an interview invitation, and your CV has passed muster.

But, are you ready for your interview?

The Headteacher has seen your CV and has made the decision to offer you an interview, so your skills are not in doubt. The interview is your chance for potential interviewers to get to know you and for you to showcase your amazing teaching skills.

Even if you have a naturally extrovert personality, sitting in a room talking about yourself is hard, so if you think of your interview as a performance, it may help bring your nerves under control. Even if you are a jangling bag of nerves, act as if you are feeling confident and in control and before you know it, you’ll probably start feeling confident and in control!

Your interview starts from the minute your arrive at school

How often have you told your students to take their hands out of their pockets and tuck in their shirt? Obviously, you’re not going to walk into a school looking scruffy because you are a professional but just take a few minutes before you go to the school to take a few deep breaths, compose yourself and get your smile in place. And manners will count, so greet the receptionist politely and make a fabulous first impression.

“You are on interview from the moment you get to the school,” says Richard Fawcett, a former head and now a recruitment consultant for the Association of School and College Leaders. (

Perfect preparation prevents poor performance

Interviews are all about preparation and that you need to research the school as much as you possibly can before your interview and make sure you have fully understood the job description


You don’t know what questions the Headteacher is going to ask, but you will probably have been given a job specification so you may be able to form an idea. So, try writing some of the details you think you will be asked about and then rehearse your answers. By actually writing the information, you are more likely to remember it, and by rehearsing, you will be able to perfect your performance. Then think about asking someone to do a mock interview with you so you can practice.

Give Examples

Quite often a question can be very successfully answered with an example; interviewers are always much more impressed by real life examples rather than general theoretical solutions.

So, make a list of situations from either your previous teaching experience or if you are an NQT from your training, where you have successfully handled a difficult or challenging situation and explain the outcome for both the pupil and the school.

Stick to the point

It is easy to answer questions with quite a lot of waffle especially if you are nervous so take a few seconds after each question, take a breath and give a concise answer but explain with passion! An interviewer is more likely to be impressed by a precise answer that shows your passion for teaching rather than a ten-minute answer that loses the interviewer’s interest.

Have a chat

Rather than the interview being a static question and answer session, you should try to get a conversation going and try to build a relationship with the interviewer.

If there is more than one person on the interview panel, make sure you include everyone in your answer. Use non-verbal communication as often as possible; nod, smile, make an appropriate amount of eye contact.

Lesson Planning

As part of the interview, you may be asked to take a lesson, and you can use the structures laid out in the National Curriculum to complete your lesson plan. Even if your interview is with an academy or another non-state funded school, this gives you some guidance on how to deliver a lesson.

There are many different types of lesson plans, and if you’re an experienced teacher, you probably have a tried and tested layout that works for you. But, if you’re an NQT or are still relatively new to the profession a basic lesson plan should include:

  • Title of the lesson
  • Timings
  • Material needed
  • Lesson objectives
  • Behavioural objectives
  • Knowledge objectives
  • Instructions to your students and what input they will get from you
  • Wrap up and summary
  • Evaluation and analysis

There are some excellent free and paid for online lesson plans available.

Wrap it up and leave a great impression

Finally, the last impression you make should be as good as the first one. Ensure that you have some questions prepared as the interviewer will probably ask you if you have any questions of your own. Also, take this opportunity to reiterate your passion for teaching and your interest in the school. Although you might feel relieved that the interview is over, don’t rush from the room but take your time to thank the interviewer or the interview panel, using their names if they gave them, and say that you’re looking forward to hearing from them.

Further reading

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