Mmmmm not too sure about this one?? I have hired plenty of staff in the last 7-8 years and the choice has often been commensurate and in line with the member of the team leaving, replacing like with like. I have found NQT's to be fantastic as long as the effort is put in our end and have found working with experienced members of staff just as rewarding. So why is it that this situation arises? Young or inexperienced HOD not wanting to be challenged by someone with more experience? Will someone with experience be perceived to eventually challenge for that HOD's role? I have never felt this to be the case in my dept but have had heard similar things in the past. Possible solution would be to meet the HOD first and if possible put forward your point of view, maybe you would never want to be a HOD and just want to teach, thats hard to get across on an application form. Good Luck either way.