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Interview Advice from Susan

Lining up a long-term position for January and heading to an interview? Susan gives her advice. 

I have been on my fair share of interviews, namely because I am pretty bad at them. They are in fact a sales pitch, and you are the product. So I thought I’d share the general points I have picked up over the years in the hope others benefit from it and are therefore better at selling themselves (in the non-prostitute sense) than myself.

After seeing a job you would like to apply for, you then get the joy of working your way through the application form that is different for each and every school, and which takes around an hour to fill out because a CV is just not acceptable and although the same information on an application form is that on a CV, schools want it in their own special format, and to be honest I’m not even sure how much they actually read of it?

So once you have filled out the form and painstakingly ‘sold’ yourself through the power of words in the form of a letter, stating why you are the best person for the job because you are the best thing since sliced bread, it is then a waiting game. You rarely get told you haven’t got an interview, you just wait until the interview date has passed or maybe just a few weeks have passed with no word and you have to wonder yourself what qualities you lack or what was missing in your application. However if you are lucky enough to have passed stage one of the sales pitch, this written part and are called for interview then the fun begins.

It seems in recent years that application form you painstakingly typed up is then ignored.

Whatever got you to the interview day is no longer relevant and you must now pretend they know nothing about you. So what do you need to do now? Prepare, prepare, prepare!!! Look on their website, check out the latest national initiatives, know about data, government procedures, curriculum and the schools GCSE and A level results. The lot! Then you have to plan a lesson that they will have set up for you, maybe with data for pupils, but more often not, so a guessing game as to how many pupils, what ability they are or what they may have already learnt. Not really a real life scenario to be honest. It is often worth calling up to get some info, although I have often been given wrong facts and changed my lesson for the worse.

The interview day arrives, now you have to spend a day chatting to your rivals, getting to know them and becoming acquaintances. You may go on a tour with them, and you can tell the keen ones as they ask every question under the sun, even if they are not interesting or relevant. Do not panic about them getting the upper hand. It may come across as bossy or intimidating to the school to be honest, when I was the interviewer these are the most annoying candidates. You may have a task to do if going for a responsibility role such as a data task, marking pupils work or curriculum ideas. I am sure they just steal all your ideas as they get four or five new exciting ideas from the various candidates to then discuss in the next department meetings.

The final part of the day is usually the interview. Three or four stern faces looking at you with their clipboards in front of them, questions at the ready. You never know how well you’ve done as some of the interviewers are jolly and smile, others just stay stern throughout, and whether you are doing well or not they tend to make notes.  But do remember, say the obvious, I always talk about new and exciting ideas but forget the answers such as exam results and teaching good lessons and that bloody data!! Anything you think they will have read in your letter, remind them, say it all over again, just like an annoying sales rep you get on the phone or in a shop!

So then you get to go home, after four or five hours of feeling uncomfortable. Say goodbye to your new friends and wish them luck even if you don’t mean it and wait for the phone call. Now as a general rule if the head teacher calls you have the job, if someone else from the interview panel calls then you probably haven’t. The ‘minions’ get to call the unfortunate ones!

Good luck!

Do you have your own advice for heading to an interview? We would really like to hear it. Email Megan ( for information on how you can share your advice.

Tags: SusanW, Chelmsford, Secondary

Category: Australian Teachers

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