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Dear Theo - Interview advice

Discussion in 'Jobseekers' started by tewwi, Jul 10, 2011.

  1. Hi,
    I have an interview next week. I've done 4 this year already and keep being told that I was second choice. I need to make sure I am first choice. My lessons aren't a problem, I think its the interview... how do I make sure I'm the one who stands out above the rest?

    Thanks in advance for your advice!!!
  2. The clickables really are the best source of information here.
    I adopted the fan approach:
    Children -----> Me ---------> School --------> Community (including global) when trying to answer questions (this advice is in the clickables).
    Also found printing off the possible questions and framing some (general) responses.
    In my experience there is always questions on:
    1. Why YOU want to work in THIS school. This needs to be personalised. So you need to know your sterengths and the school's development areas and strengths. For example, when I got the post I was able to demonstrate how my experience in community cohesion projects at 3 different schools could be used to support an area OFSTED had highlighted that the school needed to develop. Be careful with this though as it only works if OFSTED visit has been recent (as it was in my case). There are a variety of ways schools could match what you offer: EAL, SEN (particularly if there is enhanced resource provision), inner city, village, mixed year group classes, setting or not setting, etc... Perhaps you have a skill (play a sport or play the piano) that could enhance whole school provision. You may have an interest that you want to develop more in the curriculum or to offer a club that the school doesn't have.
    2. Safeguarding - this can be disguised. Remember anything that involves well-being or safe and secure involves safe-guarding - also add anti-bullying, PSHE, SEAL... the questions I have been asked are usually looking for both.
    3. Strengths and weaknesses - Asked in many guises. This is about knowing what you want to do and where you want to go and areas you need to develop. They want to see if you are reflective. Many candidates get defensive about this. Don't! Everyone has development opportunities. You can also talk about other opportunities you may have had. For example, I have been given the opposrtunity this year to develop my pedagogy, assessment and planning in maths as this has been a whole focus. I developed differentiation and groupings and was able to get the grips with every aspect of my maths teaching. This year I would like to take a similar approach to my literacy teaching to ensure I am delivering the best literacy curriculum for every child in the class. (But remember this has to be personal to you).
    4. Tell us about yourself - Brief CV here (don't go back to the day you were born).
    5. Usually something about working as a team (especially in larger schools). Again refer to previous experience and what worked well. Include whole team, don't just focus on teachers - remember support staff, office staff, lunchtime staff, parents/carers and community.
    6. Behaviour management. This one speaks for itself and if you have done your homework (I had lunch with the children and asked them about how good behaviour was rewarded and what sanctions were in place which I also mentioned at the interview) you can link your own techniques and strategies to their behaviour policy. Indicate flexibility too - different strategies work with different children (so again practical examples of what worked and what didn't) linked to the KS the post is advertised for.
    I have always been asked at each interview what I thought about my interview lesson. Be honest. State some positives, some things you would do differently next time and something to improve on. Don't be too self-critical but do be honest. They know you don't know these children (so acknowledge that - explain how you would normally use you AfL and APP to assist your planning and grouping) and they are also experienced at lesson observations. Again I think they want to see if you are reflective and confident explaining how your lesson fit their school (or doesn't fit at their school and how you would make sure it does). If something goes wrong, it is not a disaster because you can use it to your advantage at this stage.
    That's about all I can think of right now. There probably is something else I always get asked but these seem to be the 6 main themes that have run through every interview I have been to (although 6 isn't that many I guess).
    Have also been asked different questions like:
    How would you work with the governors?
    Teaching requires flexibility. Explain why you are flexible.
    What would you do if........ (presented with different scenarios)
    How would you raise the profile of reading/writing/maths in the classroom?
  3. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Super, Bobby - what a lot of effort you've put into this! Other posters will really appreciate this.
    I have just one or two comments to make here, many of them from the point of view of someone who has interviewed well over 1,000 people over the years. Perhaps 2,000!
    Not to confuse the readers, in the Welcome thread Interview clickables, this is called the Ripple,not the fan.
    No, I wouldn't go for a CV at all. They can read this on your application form. Instead, highlight what there is special about you that this school needs.
    And quote examples!
    Overall a very helpful post, Bobby. Many thanks!
    TheoGriff. Member of the TES Careers Advice Service.
    I do Application and Interview one-to-ones, and also contribute to the Job Application Workshops. We look at application letters, executive summaries and interviews, with practical exercises that people really appreciate.

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