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Interview Tips

Interview Tips

Smile – it could make all the difference!

Your task at an interview is to demonstrate that you’re the best person for the job. Here are our top tips for interview success

Your objective at a job interview is quite simple: you need to sell yourself to your potential employer. The interviewer's task, on the other hand, is to decide if you are the right person for the job, looking carefully at your experience, qualifications and attitudes. The bottom line is that there’s only one person who can demonstrate that you’re the best candidate for the job: you.

Be prepared!

The key to a successful interview is preparation. Prepare well, and you’re likely to feel less stressed and come across as more confident on the day.

Before the interview

Reread the advert, check out the college and make sure you know exactly what to expect.

Read over the advertisement again as a reminder of the position and its requirements. Review your CV and application form so you remember what you’ve written.

Make sure you know where and when the interview is, and plan your journey to arrive 10 minutes early. Check that you know the interviewer's name and job title

Find out as much as you can about the college offering the job. The DfE is a good resource for the college’s performance tables, take a look at the college’s Ofsted reports and of course its own website.

If you’ve been asked to teach a lesson:

  • find out in advance about the age range, ability and number of children in the class
  • ensure the college has a list of resources you need and can provide them
  • avoid leaving any photocopying to the last day
  • give the observer a lesson plan so they know what your aims and objectives are.

It’s always good to practise the interview with a friend or colleague.

Any Questions?

Prepare answers for any questions you may be asked. Make sure you can back up your answers with relevant examples.

Personality profile questions:

  • What made you go into teaching in the first place?
  • What made you decide to apply for this post?
  • What words would you use to describe yourself as a teacher?
  • Are there any areas in your professional development that you would like to develop?
  • What have been the high points in your career over the past couple of years?
  • What is your greatest satisfaction of the last two years?

Classroom management questions:

  • Describe what classroom management means in terms of behaviour and organisation.
  • What teaching methods have you found most effective (for Year 'x')?
  • What differences are there in teaching, for example, a class of Year ‘x’ and Year ‘y’?
  • How would you deal with disaffected children in your class?

Curriculum knowledge questions:

  • What resources/syllabi do you use to deliver the curriculum?
  • What experience do you have of teaching the National Curriculum?
  • What do you feel is the highest level of ability you are able to teach?

Lesson planning questions:

  • Give an example of a lesson you felt went particularly well.
  • Give an example of a lesson you felt went particularly badly, and explain why. How did you resolve the situation?
  • When planning a lesson, what elements do you ensure are covered within it?
  • How do you organise homework for your class?

Key responsibilities questions:

  • Do you hold any key responsibilities within your college?
  • Describe your management style.
  • Have you been involved in any extracurricular activities?

Other questions:

  • Why are you leaving your current position?
  • What are your observations about the college you are applying to?
  • If you were offered the post would you take it?
  • If you are not offered the position would you like feedback from this interview?

On the day of the interview

Take everything you’ll need with you, plan your journey and look your best! Read more don’t forget to take:

  • two copies of your CV - the college or LA may have misplaced yours
  • original copies of your qualifications
  • your DfE registration
  • written testimonials from past jobs
  • your portfolio

Instant judgements will be made about your appearance, so dress smartly. Allow plenty of time for your journey so you won’t be flustered when you arrive at the interview.

At the Interview

Smile and try to relax! Take a deep breath, remind yourself of your career success to date and appreciate the fact that you are a talented individual. The following may sound obvious, but will make all the difference at your next interview:

  • Greet the interviewer with a smile and a firm handshake.
  • Maintain eye contact with the interviewer while talking to them, and if others are present, speak to them as well.
  • Listen carefully to what the interviewer is saying and try to understand what’s behind their question. Then try to frame your answer in response.
  • Be professional and focused, yet friendly and personable; your attitude and demeanour matter as much as what you say.
  • Be brief but thorough in your responses. Strike a balance between avoiding simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers, but not waffling on! Relate your experience to the question being asked
  • If you don’t understand a question, ask the interviewer to explain.
  • Explain how your qualifications relate to the position and fulfil the college's specific needs.
  • Make sure you have the opportunity to ask questions of your own. You are interviewing them as well, and trying to find out if their college is the place for you
  • Ask when you can expect to hear whether you’ve been successful.
  • Thank the interviewer at the end.

After the Interview

Whatever the outcome, thank the employer for interviewing you. If you’ve been unsuccessful, start thinking about how to do better next time!

After an interview, it’s always a good idea to send an email or letter thanking an employer for letting you discuss your experiences. Send it out immediately after your interview to stay fresh in the employer’s mind – you’ll score bonus points for excellent follow-up skills.

Spend some time thinking about how you can improve your interview technique if you were unsuccessful. Call and ask the college for feedback - anything they tell you will be of great help for the future, so ask for an honest evaluation. Finally, consider discussing your experience with a mentor, and ask for advice for future interviews.

If you got the position, congratulations! And please don't forget to let us know - it’s always good to hear from you.