Schoolzone blog: Arrival at the interview

Arrival at the interview
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15 April 2015

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You might think it's a bit OTT to devote a whole page to this topic, but there are several tips worth noting.

A good strategy is to get to the school before the kids start arriving and watch them coming in. How are they dressed? How do they behave as they enter the school grounds? How much supervision is there? What cars do the parents drive?

You can also chat to some of them as you walk into school - they'll be interested in you if you tell them you're coming for interview: how do they talk to you? You can probably get a good idea of how the children respect the teachers on the basis of the kinds of things they say.

They may also give you some nugget of information you can use later to show that you're on the ball - something the other interviewees may not know.

This strategy is better than talking to other interviewees: they are your enemies! Plus if the head sees you talking to the kids he/she will be impressed.

You are on show from the moment you arrive in the car park. I remember a head telling a story about an interviewee dropping litter in the school car park. Needless to say they didn’t get the job.

When you arrive at reception you will in all likelihood be sat with the other candidates. Introduce yourself, be friendly but always remember these are your rivals. Talk about things like the weather, how lovely the school is, where you are from etc. Do not talk tactics and do not reveal all the great ideas you have about the job available.

If there's an internal candidate - maybe someone who's trained there, pump him or her for information about why the post has become available, what the rest of the department members are like, especially any weaknesses. Then think about what experience you have which suggests that you'll bring something to the team and work it into your interview.

It is likely that you will meet the headteacher at the start of the day. Shake hands and smile. It might be that the head talks to all candidates generally over a cup of coffee. Get involved in the discussion but don’t feel that you have to talk endlessly. Motor-mouth candidates do tend to set off alarm bells.

I once asked my head, who was interviewing eight newly qualified teachers for a post, how he decides, when on paper they all seem so similar. He said he tends to give it to the one who seems to want it most. This is worth bearing in mind: don't sound desperate, but do make sure your enthusiasm is on show right from the first handshake.





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