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Wrestle the Nerves - Bag the Job!

Miranda has four tips for you to get through your interview, inlcuding a few tricks she picked up from others along the way! 

I’m not particularly great at interviews, I’m either a bag of nerves or I come across as if I want to rule the school. Occasionally, these features will arrive together in the interview room and there’s a horrible and unforgettable hour ahead. But the advantage of a rather sketchy performance at interview is that I’ve had a lot of feedback from kinder senior staff members.

What I can impart is that you can definitely pull yourself back into the ring having done a mediocre, badly timed or slightly over-worked lesson.

So tip 1 – Never give up.

At the beginning of a job hunt, I did an interview involving an experiment with a big ball of ice. The children, who were supposed to be feeling a humungous sense of wonder over the ice, kept touching it (of course), one said ‘Ow! My finger’s been burned.’ The rest of them just got their paper soggy. One cried. Two others shouted ‘I don’t understand. I don’t understand what I’m doing!’ But with nothing left to lose, I was relaxed at interview and pulled off a good one. I was second in line for the job, and I felt confident about handling interviews the next time round.

Tip 2 - Keep your eye on timing when doing an observed lesson.

In the moment, I asked the observing headteacher how long I had left to go. ‘This is not the Great British Bake-Off. You need to manage your own time’ he told me icily during the interview feedback.

Tip 3 - Try not to be put off by other candidates.

I was quite shocked when I first interviewed for a teaching post. There were ten other teachers pacing the room. Instantly, a sense of gloom overcame us and some people began to chatter with incessant brightness to cover up the embarrassment of being in direct competition with so many others. Some people will talk and talk to cover nerves and feel they are still real. Others will be silent, and therefore appear to be cleverer than you, as you rattle on giving away all your weaknesses. I go for polite but slightly vacant so I don’t have to give anything away. 

I once attended an interview with eight older and very experienced teachers. We had to have a Christmassy lunch together in an up-market pub, after three tests and a lesson obs. A Dunkirk spirit descended on us. We had all tried our best. Through chatting over mulled wine, I learned that the more experienced teachers (it was a part-time role in a beautiful location) definitely regarded teaching interviews as something they were only partially in control of. They were confident enough to know they would interview reasonably and said they were not nervous because so much of success in interview is down to what the school is looking for. Ever slyly and secretly wondered why someone is in post when you know hundreds who could do better – ask them about their netball qualifications or second class degree in maths, or piano playing…

Tip 4 - The hoop jumping involved in teaching interviews is pretty appalling.

If you add nerves into the mix, then it’s a hellish existence until you either burn out or manage to secure that job. I think – and this is the only advice anyone really gives isn’t it, deep heartfelt sigh… – a middle way is best.

Prepare well but go to the cinema and watch box sets, drink the odd glass of wine and keep being married or looking for love, or doing your creative thing. Otherwise you’ll have no fizz or sense of perspective when you’re sitting behind that desk with your  tap water.

Good luck all!

Looking for more interview advice? Make sure you read Stephen's tips on surviving your interview nerves. Click here to read.  

Tags: Miranda, Manchester, NQT, supply

Category: Australian Teachers

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