Early Career Hub

Interviewing for a job

Written By: Andy Taylor
4 min read

This is the third in a series of three blog posts on becoming a teacher – the first is on looking for a job and the second is on applying for a job

You’ve done your homework, you’ve applied for your dream role and now you’ve had the exciting news that you’ve secured an interview! Congratulations! Now begins the prep… Most schools will give you at least 48 hours’ notice before the big day, so there’s plenty of time to get organised.

Gearing up for interview day

Every school’s process will be slightly different. However, there will be some certainties. You will have to provide ID on the day and sometimes proof of qualifications before starting. 

With a virtual interview, it’s super important to log on with time to spare, double check your technology is working and give yourself plenty of time to get it sorted if it is not! Think about where in your home is the most appropriate to take part in the interview, ideally you want to be in a calm and quiet room where you won’t be disturbed. 

Make sure you remember to have everything the school has asked you to hand. And double check it! If you’re lucky enough to be face to face, make sure you are at the school for the agreed time – ideally be there early – so it’s a good idea to have a dry run in rush hour traffic, just to ensure that you leave yourself enough time. 

Preparing for your observed lesson

Now to the fundamentals – what you can expect on the day.

The school will want to see you teach!

Every school is different in what information they might share with you regarding this. Some may be very prescriptive. Others may give you some choice. Recently, some schools have not shared the focus for teaching with the applicants beforehand but have given them a focus and time to prepare on the day. Whatever the brief is, stick to it!

Whatever you choose, this is the time to show them what you are made of. Schools are looking for how you have chosen to structure the learning, the activities, and opportunities for children. More importantly though, they want to see how you connect with the children. How do you manage behaviour? How do you adapt when things don’t go the way you expect? How do you develop a rapport with the children and a teaching assistant (TA) (if you have one in the lesson)? 

Schools may provide you with additional information about the class you will be teaching – how many have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), English as an additional language (EAL), etc. Some schools won’t. If you want to find out more, make contact with the school and they will happily provide more information about the class. If you applied for the role through Teaching Vacancies – the Department for Education’s official job listing service – go back and take a look at the school’s ‘school overview’ and this will give you a good summary of what you might expect the class and school to feel like.

If the lesson will be taught online, check which platforms they use so you can familiarise yourself with them ahead of the day and make sure you have all the relevant software downloaded. If there are specific resources you want to use for the lesson, make sure you can either source them yourself or double check that the school has them. 

Priming for the panel

The other guaranteed part of the interview process will be the panel interview. There will be at least 3 people in the panel interview, at least one will have safer recruitment training to ensure the duty of care for children and most likely one will be a school governor. Chances are you will be asked to reflect on how your lesson went earlier in the day. Be honest and reflective.

The questions you may be asked will vary depending on school priorities, but you will certainly be asked a question on safeguarding. Here is a selection of other questions that you may be asked and some suggested answers. Whenever answering a question, draw on your own examples from your experience and demonstrate how you have ‘lived’ your answer.

Interview the interviewers

At the end of the panel interview you will be offered the chance to ask any questions. Always ask a question. If by any chance your question has been answered during the day, then articulate this to the panel. If you aren’t already aware, you should ask about the provision and support for NQTs. The best question I ever got asked by a candidate was ‘What do you think is the best thing about working here?’. That question would help you to get a sense of the people and a personal view of the school. Remember, finding the right school for you is so important (have I mentioned that yet?).

Impressing the school council

Along with those two elements of the interview day, you may be asked to have an interview with the school council – be prepared for anything! Definitely have a child-friendly joke up your sleeve. ‘What did one snowman say to the other? Do you smell carrots?’ but if children have designed the questions, they could be anything, from ‘If you were an animal what would you be?’ to ‘How will you make sure I am safe in school?

Once the successful candidate has been contacted, the school will contact those who have been unsuccessful. If you happen to be unsuccessful, you are entitled to feedback and schools may provide it there and then, or they may ask to find an alternative time when they can speak to you.

Whatever the outcome of the day, if you did your best you can walk away proud. You are looking for the right school for you, and there is a school out there that is looking for you too! Sometimes it can take a while to find each other. Be true to yourself and give it your all, and you can always be proud of what you have achieved. 

Visit the Teaching Vacancies service and sign-up for job alerts today to start your job-seeking journey.

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