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Interview requirements -what's excessive (I've been asked to teach for 2 hours)?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by 2970emma, Nov 29, 2015.

  1. 2970emma

    2970emma New commenter

    Hi all,

    Until recently I lived in one part of the UK. There almost every teaching interview I heard of followed the same format (not necessarily in this order): interview lesson of 15-30 mins; tour of the school; coffee or lunch with department; interview; possible pupil interview. The expectation was that class details would be provided or given upon asking for them and that you could order practical kit for science lessons in advance.

    I've recently moved and have applied for a new post. I've been invited to interview and have been asked to prepare a full one hour class on a topic of my chosing which will be shortly followed by time to prepare for another full one hour class which we will be given the topic details for on the day. We've been told the year group but that we will be given all other class info on the day, making prep even more difficult! On top of this there's aninterview, bringing and sharing of resources and a few other activities.

    I have no problems with this interview day as a concept. In fact, it seems like a slightly better way, in some ways, to find good teachers than watching just a 15 minute polished interview lesson.

    However, I would be keen to hear if other people would also view this as 'excessive' relative to other interviews they have had or seen? I feel you can tell a lot about a place by how they interview and if interview workload is already 4x that of most other establishments then what could working there be like?

    Thanks for your wisdom and opinions!
  2. Weald56

    Weald56 Established commenter

    Up till the time of my retirement (two years ago) I 'enjoyed' (or do I mean 'endured'?) many interviews - can't say I ever had one where I wasn't given the information about the class beforehand, nor one where I was expected to prepare on the day (for SLT posts, yes, sometimes one had to prepare a presentation to the panel, but never a lesson).

    I have to say I might not have been prepared to do what you have been asked to, as I wouldn't have felt preparing a lesson without the full information was too stressful and, crucially, gives any internal candidate (or anyone who knows the school) an unfair advantage. But that's just me!

    Good luck!
  3. purplecarrot

    purplecarrot Senior commenter

    For my last teaching interview I had:
    Informal meeting with head and SLT
    Interview lesson of an hour
    In-tray task looking at assessment, monitoring and feedback
    Interview with head, SLT and governors.
    Other times it's been tour of school, half an hour lesson, lunch with the team, 1 interview and in another one 2 interviews panels with a different focus.

    The on the day lesson is the bit that seems a bit excessive to me. But equally, as long as there are no internal candidates to have an advantage, I'd quite like that that because there's no way anyone can plan an 'observation bells and sparkles lesson' on the day. Removes the show element.
  4. 2970emma

    2970emma New commenter

    Thanks for your replies Kent1 and purplecarrot.

    I should expand the info above to say that this is for a "regular" teaching post - no TLR, leadership or othet bells or whistles.

    I agree that I quite like the idea of preparing on the day to prevent excess 'observation sparkle'. The most thoughtful interview I had was when applying for teacher training. We were given a list of KS3 topics and asked to prepare a 10 min presentation for the panel. People turned up with suitcases of props and preparations...and that's fine...but the panel combined that by then giving us 5 mins to think about and present on one of the other topics. This allowed them to view our polish and out ability to think on our feet, and led nicely into them discussing workloads etc.

    However, whilst I like it as an idea I still have the feeling the combination asked of me, above, is probably excessive. I will wait to hear what other people have to say...
  5. Dragonlady30

    Dragonlady30 Star commenter

    In the circumstances of the post you have applied for, OP, I think an on the day lesson prep is a bit excessive.
    snowyhead likes this.
  6. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    2 on one day does seem excessive, but I have had two (2) at interview as well, but they were shorter - it was to teach one at KS3 and another at KS5; about 20 minutes for KS3 and a half-hour at KS5, I think it was to see how comfortable we were at opposite ends of the curriculum....
  7. wrldtrvlr123

    wrldtrvlr123 Occasional commenter

    I am not a UK teacher and I am always amazed by the reality of interview lessons in general. In the US it's just not the done thing and I am happy that it was never required of me.

    In the international school community it's also not done, although this is probably down more to logistics (usually the interview is conducted via Skype or at a job fair, neither of which is conducive to conducting a lesson) than any type of philosophical rejection of the idea.

    While I can understand that more information is probably better than less when trying to select a quality teacher/individual, do you feel that these type of contrived lessons really give the potential employer useful information?

    I suppose that if you can thrive in that type of scenario then you would be more likely to be able to conduct a good lesson with a class that you actually get the chance to know and prepare for (although there are also those people that thrive in one-off dog and pony shows but wilt and fade away on a day to day basis).

    I would suppose that you are more likely to get false negatives on a given candidate as the case with an otherwise good teacher that may get outstanding results with their class(es) but gets nervous or is less than impressive in a forced/contrived lesson.

    In any case bravo to those who endure these types of interviews and land the job (and sympathy for those that don't. The worst I ever had to face was a 4:00 am Skype interview with a committee of 5 for a prestigious Swiss international school where they would turn the webcam towards whoever was speaking at the time. I thought that one went fairly well but didn't get the job.
  8. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    It's a bit over the top in my view.

    No, scrap that - it's a LOT over the top!

    If they wished to see a prepared and an almost-off-the-cuff lesson, they could have made them 30 minutes each.

    And I too would be concerned about equal opportunities if there are internal candidates who know the pupils. They might not know them, of course.

    But I'll tell you one thing - the observation panel will be jolly fed up by having to observe 2 hours each for each candidate. ;)

    Have you read all my interview advice, by the way? Come down to the Jobseekers Forum and ask if you haven't.

    Best wishes and good luck

  9. purplecarrot

    purplecarrot Senior commenter

    For no TLR that's insane. My in-tray task interview was for a middle leadership position.
    Yes. Your interview seems more than normal.
    I wonder if they've had problems recruiting where somebody's done well on the day but then their actual teaching wasn't great- doesnt excuse it though.
  10. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    It seems rather a lot, but perhaps they are trying to get closer to seeing how candidates cope with 5 hours of teaching in a day. And how they manage with less preparation time, rather than just seeing a lesson with loads of time for preparation, which is rather articifical. Personally, I think I would rather be given the topic on the day - it is the same for everybody and I wouldn't have to spend agred preparing.

    It is up to you whether you attend the interview. Unless I thought that somebody (an internal candidate?) had more information than me, I would go for it.

    Perhaps the interview panel delegate this, as has happened at my school.
  11. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    If the interview panel delegate the task, it's going to be difficult to make a decision, because different people have seen different candidates. How can they be sure they are being scrupulously fair in their decision making?
  12. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    Did I tell you about the interview where they FORGOT to observe my lesson?

    They still offered me the job!
    marlin, midnight_angel and yodaami2 like this.
  13. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    They only have to be as "fair" as circumstances allow; members of the decision-making panel do not have to do the observations themselves (and if they're governors, rightfully so!), merely hear the opinions of those who did and then weigh up the combined 'results' of all the interview activities.
  14. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    It's still going to be a lengthy process though!
  15. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I think it's a test of a different order. Not so much a test of teaching ability but whether you have the balls to go ahead with your application as a lot of people might back out at this point.

    I think I would.

    It's enormously disrespectful to the students to render them up to the tender mercies of J Bloggs who has deliberately been under-prepared. It's sick actually.
  16. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    Are they short of supply teachers on that day or something?
  17. Yoda-

    Yoda- Lead commenter

    Imagine what performance management would be like there.

    You will need to suss out the place very carefully. Remember interviews are a two way process.
  18. tackles

    tackles Occasional commenter

    Why would they want you to teach a lesson with very little time to prepare? The cynic in me would be asking if they regularly get staff to cover for other classes, which is why they want to see how you'd cope...
  19. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    I read of another alternative on these forums once - the candidates were asked to work with a small group on a task which would be presented by the class teacher. That seems like a good way of seeing how candidates work with students, taking out the "how good is the lesson you've planned with your mentor and practised with your current class", and asking them to think a bit on their feet but not produce resources from nowhere.
  20. Bajan-night

    Bajan-night Occasional commenter

    The cynic in me thinks they might just want someone to teach two lessons. Who are you going to be 'sharing' the resources with? Are you sure this isn't a case of 'leave your resources with us'. Just my views.
    grumpydogwoman likes this.

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