Whatever stage you're at in your career, interviews can be a challenge.
We've put these tips together to help you get through this crucial stage of any job search. Good luck! We hope they help.
Preparing for your interview
First things first: make sure you've got your head round the logistics.
Plan your route. Work out how long it will take, where will you park, or do the train times work for you?
Video interviews are being used more than ever. If this is the case, make sure the technology works! Arrange a test with a friend, so you know how to make the video chat go smoothly. It would be worth making and accepting the call so you’re comfortable either way
Think about where you’ll be when it’s time for your interview. You don’t want to be distracted by people coming and going, and a straightforward, bland background will help ensure your interviewer focuses on you, rather than something over your shoulder!
To help you prepare, have a think about the following questions – at least one of them is bound to crop up.
- What do you like about teaching?
This is a tried and tested opening question. It works for interviewers because it allows you to ‘warm up’ while talking about yourself and your professional attributes. And there’s no right or wrong answer! It’s important not to get carried away though. Keep it professional and take the opportunity to outline why you find teaching rewarding and why you applied to that particular school.
If you particularly enjoy working in a team and gain satisfaction from helping students with their personal development, this is your chance to say so. It would be beneficial to think of some practical practice examples which you can reference in your answer.
- Talk me through your experience.
Although the interviewer will have a copy of your CV, they will want to hear about your experience in your own words, and form a picture of the type of school you have worked in. Make some notes on your own copy of your CV to help you to summarise what you see as key points and your most relevant achievements.
When you answer the question, start by outlining your route into teaching, and then cover the roles you have held since. Make it easy for the interviewer to see the direction you have taken by highlighting the reason for moving on, and the rationale for progression.
- Give me an example of when you have experienced challenging behaviour – what did you do about it?
This is your opportunity to highlight one of your successes in the classroom. You will be starting from a point of weakness as you describe challenging circumstances, but your interviewer will want to see how you deal with difficult situations. This could have been a long term issue which you dealt with by using behaviour management strategies. Alternatively, you could highlight your classroom presence by describing how you regained focus and reasserted your authority. Just make sure you have authentic examples which you are happy to back up and discuss in detail.
- What behaviour management strategies do you use in the classroom?
Behaviour management is important in any classroom and teachers can’t be truly successful without effective techniques up their sleeve. School leaders will want to be confident that teachers can manage their students, so you will need to demonstrate your knowledge and experience when answering this question. Make sure you can provide detail about using positive affirmation in the classroom – perhaps focusing on reducing negative behaviour before it escalates.
It would be ideal if you could familiarise yourself with the school’s behaviour policy before the interview and bear that in mind when you answer this question. Some schools take a dim view of teachers raising their voice in the classroom. If this is the case, you might reflect that approach in your answer – if you think shouting is a negative strategy because it leads to increased volume and heightened emotions, make sure you say so, and explain what you would do instead.
- What do you want to achieve in this role?
Interviewers will want to see your desire to do well and progress. You could talk about improving your skills and knowledge for the benefit of the children in your school and ultimately to take on more responsibility. Leadership skills are useful in any classroom, and as long as you have examples, and can put a claim to leadership abilities into context, they’re bound to go down well.
6. Any questions?
To avoid your mind going blank at the end of an interview, have a list of questions which you would like to have answered. Most ECTs will want to know how schools are planning to support their early career teachers at this time and how their mentor programme is structured.
It’s important to feel prepared and ready for an interview. If you can think about the issues covered in these questions, you’ll have started well and feel prepared to do yourself justice.