Job interviews of any kind are nerve-wracking and we’ve all had interview experiences we would be happy to forget. Interviews for teaching posts can feel even more intimidating because of the nature of the job itself; a good teacher has to have presence and personality if they are going to engage a class of students so there’s even more riding on the impression you make in your interview. But don’t let that put you off. We’ve put together some of our top teaching interview tips to help you ace your interview.
Of course, the more school interviews you do, the more familiar you become with the process and the kind of questions to prepare for. However, doing lots of interviews can be exhausting and facing rejections can really take its toll on your wellbeing and confidence. It’s important to keep the right mind-set and to put in the preparation to give each interview your best shot.
We’ve put together a list of things you should consider doing before, during and after the interview as well as some extra tips for a teaching interview to help you make the right impression and give it your best shot.
Before even walking in to the school, half the battle really is in the preparation beforehand. There’s no need to over-prepare and stress yourself out but it is always good to get yourself organised and prepare for the day ahead. The last thing you need is to be rushing around beforehand when you need to relax and focus.
- Research the school. Check out their latest Ofsted report to get an indication of their strengths and weaknesses.
- Re-read the job description and make sure you fully understand the role.
- Review your CV and cover letter so you know which of your experiences they may ask about.
- Make sure you eat well and get a good sleep the night before.
- Plan your outfit- dress smart, it pays to think about your outfit and how you present yourself.
- Prepare a couple of good questions you would like to ask. An interview is also your chance to see if the role and school is truly right for you. This can take some of the pressure off you, allowing you to see the interview from another perspective.
Do I need to bring any documents?
It’s best not to get bogged down with a bag full of things but it is important to remember a few important documents. It’s good to check beforehand if they require you to bring any specific documents with you, such as:
- Your DfE registration
- A copy of your CV
- Copies of your qualifications
Before going in to any teaching interview tips specific to the interview itself, perhaps the most important thing to consider beforehand is your mind-set. If you’ve got a positive mind-set and an optimistic outlook, it shines through in your manner and body language. It’s also good to understand and work on your thought processes when undergoing interviews which can challenge your confidence and self-esteem.
- Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes- what do they want from you and what would they like to hear? Think about what you can bring to the role not just what the role can offer you.
- Focus on your strengths. Big yourself up- sometimes you have to convince yourself you’re the right person for the job before you can convince someone else.
- Acknowledge your weaknesses- Can you turn them in to positives? Can you learn from them or work on them to build on your strengths and experience?
- Stay positive- this is easier said than done but there’s no point getting stuck in negative thought cycles. If you’re not successful, learn from it and move on. Facing a rejection is not necessarily a negative reflection on you so don’t beat yourself up.
- Take care of your wellbeing. If you’re doing a series of interviews over a period of time, don’t let the stress burn you out. Reward yourself when you complete an interview, even if you are unsuccessful. Don’t let rejection bring you down. Taking care of yourself helps you avoid burnout and helps you get back on your feet again for the next interview.
During the interview
Now for the bit we all dread. But with focus, practise and some of our top teaching interview tips, interviews need not be a drag. Here’s some body language and communication tips to put across your best self in the interview.
- Eye contact. Avoid looking down at your feet or out the window. Eye contact conveys confidence and also shows that you are interested in what the interviewer is saying.
- Listen carefully and think about motive behind questions- what are they trying to find out about you?
- Don’t ramble, it’s better to be brief than ramble on while at the same time, avoid just saying yes/no answers.
- Remember to thank them at the end of the interview and ask when you can expect to hear back. This gives you an idea of the window of how long you have before making decisions as well as how long is right to wait before contacting them if you don’t hear back.
We all have an idea of common interview questions to expect. Here’s some questions that many recruiters use that may need a bit more time to think about. Try writing down your answers and repeating them or if possible, practicing your answers with someone else. The more you become comfortable with these types of questions, the more confident, clear and succinct you will come across and the stronger the foundation you will build before your interview. If you prepare answers to these questions, it will put you in good stead come the day of the interview.
- Why did you become a teacher? Why do you teach?
- When have you, in your career/ life had to go beyond your call of duty?
- Tell me about a time when you have failed but then used the failure to improve your performance.
- If you were sat next to another teacher with similar academic and career experience, why pick you over them?
- What is your biggest strength?
- What is your biggest weakness?
- When have you shown true resilience to overcome an issue?
- Discuss how you have worked as part of a team.
- If I talked to your best friends in private, what would they say about you?
At the end of a particularly bad interview, you may be tempted to forget it as soon as possible and move on. However, the weeks after an interview can be a great time for reflection and personal development. Use this time to learn from your experience.
- Email them after the interview thanking them for the opportunity. It’s not a good idea to ask for feedback this soon, this is just a way to show that you are grateful for being considered and also to stay fresh in their minds.
- During a busy time of interviews, there may not be a lot of time for reflection. But it is a good idea to reflect on your experience, particularly if an interview didn’t go well. Don’t dwell on the negatives but use it to learn and be better next time.
- If you are unsuccessful, then ask for feedback to learn from the experience. What they tell you might not be what you want to hear, but it could be what you need to learn and develop. Never ask for feedback immediately after the interview has ended. Leave it until you have heard back or have waited at least a week if you haven’t heard back.
Above all, remember that interviewers are not trying to catch you out, but giving you a chance to display your strengths and experience to them. When they question you, they are trying to work out how you would work as a teacher and whether you show the kind of behaviours and values that they desire in their staff. Putting yourself in the shoes of the interviewer helps you identify the kind of characteristics they are looking for. If you can first convince yourself you are made for this role, then you can convince them.
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