You’ve had the invite, the interview date is set, so what’s next? Preparation, preparation, preparation. The key to winning a teaching job at interview is the quality and quantity of your prep.
Research is vital
You can never over research. If you can, visit the school before your teaching interview to see face-to-face the staff, the students and the culture. If possible try to observe an actual teaching lesson. Don’t wait for the school to ask if you’d like to visit. Always ask first. If time or location prevents a visit, phone the school and ask to speak to a teacher in your specialised subject as well as a quick chat with the support staff. You’d be amazed at how much they know and are happy to share.
All schools have websites but the content on them varies enormously. You’ll need to learn about the school’s values, its mission and read any newsletters uploaded. What is the school saying to its parents and its community about school results, teaching methods and school data? Schools must always display financial accounts on their websites and these give great insight into the school. Crawl over their website like you were a Google algorithm spider! Most schools use images of their own students on their website and in their prospectuses which you can usually download from their websites or view online. This will give you a feel for the school culture.
Prepare your teaching portfolio before the interview and make sure you can substantiate every statement you’ve made on your CV and application form. Even though you may not be asked to show your teaching portfolio at interview, you can refer to it when answering interview questions. Interview panels often ask how you’d ensure a lesson was outstanding and your reply could include “This activity in my portfolio shows an outstanding lesson I taught earlier this year” or “This scheme of work in my portfolio was highlighted as best practice in managing student behaviour.”
These are not as daunting as they may first appear. The interview panel wants to match your skills and experience to the job description/person spec. Go through every competence on the person spec and prepare a teaching example to demonstrate your talents. Don’t forget where possible, that evidence of your teaching examples should be in your portfolio. These teaching examples should help you answer even the most challenging interview questions such as “How do you manage disruptive student behaviour?” How do you deal with cynical colleagues?” or “During your lesson how would your teaching and learning shine for an Ofsted visit?”
The interview panel will ask if you have any questions. Always ask 2 questions which show an insight into how the school works and which highlight your skills and experience (you may need to prepare 4 in case they’ve already covered some in the interview). They could include “On your school website it says………….how do you see this working in practice in the coming year?” and “If I was appointed to this post what are the key things you want me to achieve in the first term/year?”
Your clothes create a first impression within the first two seconds of the interview panel meeting you. It is imperative to spend time on this and get it right. Always dress professionally down to the tiniest detail.
The interview is your chance to shine. Be confident. You’re a brilliant teacher and you need to show to the interview panel why this school and its students need you!