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Senior Leadership Interviews - what happens

Discussion in 'Senior Leadership Team' started by rmcgill, Jul 15, 2012.

  1. The reason I write this post is to share my experiences with other
    colleagues. It is certainly not an exemplary model of any leadership
    interview, just my story. In the short amount of time I have been
    working in school leadership, the application and interview process
    still remains an unknown quantity for many of us. At each of the stages
    we climb higher, we relish the challenge but would also acknowledge
    that, for the vast majority, we are stepping into the unknown.
    In
    the past few years, I have experienced a total of four leadership
    interviews. Three of these have been for assistant headteacher positions
    and the other, a deputy headteacher role. This blog goes into detail
    about three of the interviews.
    I would describe myself as a
    vocational practitioner, someone who prefers coursework, rather than an
    examination. Of course I can do both but, given a preference, I wish
    there were interview processes that existed, to support teachers like
    myself who could prove their worth over a performance period.
    Assistant Principal (Director of Specialisms; CPD & ICT)
    over one day: Note, this interview was conducted during the NUT strike
    over pay in April 2008. On the day of interview, you can imagine, there
    were virtually zero students or staff present in the school.
    The
    details of the process include a lengthy interview, a student-panel
    interview which I always enjoy, and a role-play with (simulated)
    middle-leaders!
    Finally, a presentation was also part of the
    process, focusing on a random topic that always suits the school
    development plan and is (I guess) apparently supposed to showcase your
    leadership skills in a pokey-room, with three to four observant
    colleagues using a bland PowerPoint presentation... not my forte.
    At
    the end of the day I was called back into meet the panel first (which
    is always a good sign) and offered the role before leaving room. Despite
    what has happened to me as a result of this particular role at this
    school, a note to all: do not accept any post on the spot without
    reflection or a good look around the school. I made the mistake of not
    visiting beforehand and being in a very unique position at interview,
    during a strike day. Take the drive home, walk or call a friend,
    colleague or a partner and… reflect. If the school offer you the
    position, accept in principle, but don't think anyone would be offended
    if you said "you need to just discuss the outcome with your partner
    before confirming".
    So following voluntary redundancy from the
    school mentioned above the following interviews were conducted while I
    was in a position of redundancy at home. See my blog on coping with redundancy to hear more about this time.
    Assistant Headteacher (Key Stage 3 Pastoral) over two days:
    Day one:
    The day started off as it should, with a positive school assembly and a
    tour led by a group of students. The feel-good factor was tingling my
    skin and I started to believe I would be part of the furniture in no
    time.
    An in-tray exercise soon made sure these feelings ebbed away
    and I switched my brain on as we were left alone in a quiet library.
    The task comprised of a letter to be hand-written as a reply to an upset
    parent; a data analysis exercise and finally five possible scenarios
    that you "may encounter" before 9am. We had to rank and support our
    decisions using the 45 minutes available to complete all of the tasks.
    A
    short chit-chat break with middle-leaders hindered any chance of
    enjoying a coffee or a micro-second to pull out any biscuit crumbs from
    my teeth. A series of meetings (as a group) with the other candidates
    was next on the agenda.
    For the first time ever in my career,
    there was NO lesson to teach. Yes, you did read that sentence correctly.
    This was fantastic in terms of interview preparation as only
    "reading-up" was required which allowed you to have some sort of life
    before the event; but no lesson? What's that all about?!
    At the
    end of day one, there were seven of us waiting after school. The choice
    was ours to stay and so was any feedback that was offered to us. We each
    sounded each other out – which would have been a great moment on Big
    Brother - and to no surprise, we all decided to stay while the panel
    deliberated… Of the four shortlisted, my name was the last to be read.
    We were escorted through reception to the headteacher's office. "All of
    you could do the role, so it is a matter of you selling yourselves to
    us", he said.
    We were given a small slip of paper with a
    presentation topic and a time to attend a one-hour interview in the
    morning. I was content.
    Day two: After working
    until the late hours (a no-no) the night before, I waltzed in at 11am,
    adorned with a new coloured tie for my allocated interview slot. I took
    the chance to take a private walk around the school and ask a few more
    detailed questions to key members of staff I felt I would be working
    closely with. This did help me, but was also a vital reference point
    during the interview.
    The presentation was supposed to be short
    and a chance to sell my leadership skills. After all, they were deciding
    if I would fit into their current team. I therefore set about who I was
    and what leadership qualities I could bring to the school. The
    interview was relaxed, challenging and I remember making most of the
    panel smile.
    Feedback: As I was the last
    candidate of the day, it was suggested that I stay behind to hear my
    fate… Although I am sceptical about accepting positions there and then, my situation
    at the time left me with no choice. After 30 minutes which soon turned
    into an hour, I was called back from the staffroom to hear my fate. "We
    would like to offer you a role, (short pause) but not for this
    position."
    "Okay" I replied and asked the headteacher to repeat
    himself and clarify the crux of his words. Another candidate was being
    offered the position, but they recognised qualities in me, so they had
    deliberated and created an additional role. Was this a good thing? A
    compliment? Was is what I needed? All sorts of questions whizzed through
    my head. I retreated home to reflect and returned two days later to
    discuss the details of this role, only to hear that the school could not
    afford me! The contract had changed from one year to one term
    consultancy and I left feeling even more bewildered at the process.
    Assistant Principal (Teaching and Learning) over two days:
    Without
    doubt, this period was the most intense two days I have ever
    experienced at interview and exemplifies that the process can vary from
    school to school based on the personality and the needs of the school.
    At Headteacher level, I have heard that the process can last for three
    and a half days…
    Day one: For this interview the
    day began with a staff briefing in the staffroom. Minutes, messages,
    disgruntled faces (in parts), pigeon holes and worn out cushioned chairs
    are the staple diet of most staffrooms, but not this place. There were
    no minutes, and it only lasted three minutes… so I liked the place
    already.
    What followed was a very good tour. What I mean by this,
    is that it felt as if there were no stones left unturned and this is
    very important point to make. It shows the real character of the school
    and is just how it should be if schools are to appoint the "right"
    candidate. I liked the school even more…
    All the candidates were
    teaching a lesson and then had to create the all-singing, all-dancing
    performance of a lifetime in a stranger's classroom. What frustrated me
    about this stage, is that each candidate taught a different subject, to a
    different student ability and each in a different classroom
    environment.
    Following our own lesson, we were asked to observe
    two other staff-members' lesson and then feedback to them individually
    under close observation. After this had knocked the wind out of your
    sails, the "surprise" element of the day (and all interesting schools
    love surprises) was a mini-speed-dating version of Q and A meetings with
    middle leaders.
    I picked up my box of tricks and by 5pm I was
    home. Oh, and there is little time to relax and switch off, at 6pm I
    received "the phonecall". Regardless of the good news, it was all very
    efficient.
    Day 2: The anticipated phonecall that
    came the night before provided us with our brief for the day. A
    presentation topic related to the school's needs and also linked to the
    role of the successful post-holder. Plus an additional cliffhanger, a
    message to say we would be teaching another lesson, but with only
    one-hour's notice to plan on the day. It felt like being a supply
    teacher or being given a cover lesson all over again! It would be to
    another teacher's scheme of work (how frustrating!) and to a different
    key stage for a topic provided to us.
    Despite both my lessons
    being successfully delivered in unfamiliar circumstances, the surprise
    element of the day was yet to come. The remaining four candidates were
    to observe each other's lessons and then provide lesson feedback. This
    concept drummed up all sorts of thoughts into my mind and certainly
    raised the stakes for the position advertised. It was without doubt, a
    challenging, exciting and daunting prospect to complete after
    establishing minor relationships with the other candidates.
    Now I
    needed to provide a judgement and deliver this good or bad news to
    someone that – to them – was being delivered by their competition. It
    was a new experience.
    Again, my pet-hate, a presentation to be
    delivered in five, short minutes that was supposed to capture the vision
    of the school through my leadership. As swiftly as I entered the room, I
    smiled and fumbled my belongings together, logged off the PC and
    retreated to the holding room.
    Having made it to the final four, the panel were to deliberate over lunch and select candidates for the final interview.
    Feedback:
    "Congratulations Ross, we'd like to offer you the job. Please relax…"
    Again, the candidates I had come to know, were whisked off behind the
    scenes (I have been there) and I spent the next thirty minutes relaxing
    and revising for a final interview, for a job I had been offered.
    The
    interview was penetrating and I questioned the reasoning for the
    strength of interrogation after being offered the post. Perhaps I
    misheard the panel? Maybe I had been congratulated for being the only
    candidate shortlisted to the penultimate stage?
    Exhausted and
    believe it or not, grateful for the CPD, I managed to get home by 5pm.
    Thank goodness I had not spoken to my wife at 3pm to whisper the good
    news! I was dismissed with "we will call you tomorrow morning" but no
    sooner had I walked in the door, my phone rang and I recognised the
    number immediately. It was a "no"…
    One thing I know is that you
    cannot expect the interview process (for any job) to be similar as you
    may have experienced in your last interview, no matter how long that was
    ago. If you are successful for any teaching post, believe me, you have
    done very well.
    I can't help but wonder is it not time for a
    change? It may not be financially viable, but could placements be more
    suitable between schools, similar to leadership programmes?
    This article was published on The Guardian Teacher Network Blog.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/teacher-network/2012/feb/21/senior-leadership-interviews-jobs

     
  2. The reason I write this post is to share my experiences with other
    colleagues. It is certainly not an exemplary model of any leadership
    interview, just my story. In the short amount of time I have been
    working in school leadership, the application and interview process
    still remains an unknown quantity for many of us. At each of the stages
    we climb higher, we relish the challenge but would also acknowledge
    that, for the vast majority, we are stepping into the unknown.
    In
    the past few years, I have experienced a total of four leadership
    interviews. Three of these have been for assistant headteacher positions
    and the other, a deputy headteacher role. This blog goes into detail
    about three of the interviews.
    I would describe myself as a
    vocational practitioner, someone who prefers coursework, rather than an
    examination. Of course I can do both but, given a preference, I wish
    there were interview processes that existed, to support teachers like
    myself who could prove their worth over a performance period.
    Assistant Principal (Director of Specialisms; CPD & ICT)
    over one day: Note, this interview was conducted during the NUT strike
    over pay in April 2008. On the day of interview, you can imagine, there
    were virtually zero students or staff present in the school.
    The
    details of the process include a lengthy interview, a student-panel
    interview which I always enjoy, and a role-play with (simulated)
    middle-leaders!
    Finally, a presentation was also part of the
    process, focusing on a random topic that always suits the school
    development plan and is (I guess) apparently supposed to showcase your
    leadership skills in a pokey-room, with three to four observant
    colleagues using a bland PowerPoint presentation... not my forte.
    At
    the end of the day I was called back into meet the panel first (which
    is always a good sign) and offered the role before leaving room. Despite
    what has happened to me as a result of this particular role at this
    school, a note to all: do not accept any post on the spot without
    reflection or a good look around the school. I made the mistake of not
    visiting beforehand and being in a very unique position at interview,
    during a strike day. Take the drive home, walk or call a friend,
    colleague or a partner and… reflect. If the school offer you the
    position, accept in principle, but don't think anyone would be offended
    if you said "you need to just discuss the outcome with your partner
    before confirming".
    So following voluntary redundancy from the
    school mentioned above the following interviews were conducted while I
    was in a position of redundancy at home. See my blog on coping with redundancy to hear more about this time.
    Assistant Headteacher (Key Stage 3 Pastoral) over two days:
    Day one:
    The day started off as it should, with a positive school assembly and a
    tour led by a group of students. The feel-good factor was tingling my
    skin and I started to believe I would be part of the furniture in no
    time.
    An in-tray exercise soon made sure these feelings ebbed away
    and I switched my brain on as we were left alone in a quiet library.
    The task comprised of a letter to be hand-written as a reply to an upset
    parent; a data analysis exercise and finally five possible scenarios
    that you "may encounter" before 9am. We had to rank and support our
    decisions using the 45 minutes available to complete all of the tasks.
    A
    short chit-chat break with middle-leaders hindered any chance of
    enjoying a coffee or a micro-second to pull out any biscuit crumbs from
    my teeth. A series of meetings (as a group) with the other candidates
    was next on the agenda.
    For the first time ever in my career,
    there was NO lesson to teach. Yes, you did read that sentence correctly.
    This was fantastic in terms of interview preparation as only
    "reading-up" was required which allowed you to have some sort of life
    before the event; but no lesson? What's that all about?!
    At the
    end of day one, there were seven of us waiting after school. The choice
    was ours to stay and so was any feedback that was offered to us. We each
    sounded each other out – which would have been a great moment on Big
    Brother - and to no surprise, we all decided to stay while the panel
    deliberated… Of the four shortlisted, my name was the last to be read.
    We were escorted through reception to the headteacher's office. "All of
    you could do the role, so it is a matter of you selling yourselves to
    us", he said.
    We were given a small slip of paper with a
    presentation topic and a time to attend a one-hour interview in the
    morning. I was content.
    Day two: After working
    until the late hours (a no-no) the night before, I waltzed in at 11am,
    adorned with a new coloured tie for my allocated interview slot. I took
    the chance to take a private walk around the school and ask a few more
    detailed questions to key members of staff I felt I would be working
    closely with. This did help me, but was also a vital reference point
    during the interview.
    The presentation was supposed to be short
    and a chance to sell my leadership skills. After all, they were deciding
    if I would fit into their current team. I therefore set about who I was
    and what leadership qualities I could bring to the school. The
    interview was relaxed, challenging and I remember making most of the
    panel smile.
    Feedback: As I was the last
    candidate of the day, it was suggested that I stay behind to hear my
    fate… Although I am sceptical about accepting positions there and then, my situation
    at the time left me with no choice. After 30 minutes which soon turned
    into an hour, I was called back from the staffroom to hear my fate. "We
    would like to offer you a role, (short pause) but not for this
    position."
    "Okay" I replied and asked the headteacher to repeat
    himself and clarify the crux of his words. Another candidate was being
    offered the position, but they recognised qualities in me, so they had
    deliberated and created an additional role. Was this a good thing? A
    compliment? Was is what I needed? All sorts of questions whizzed through
    my head. I retreated home to reflect and returned two days later to
    discuss the details of this role, only to hear that the school could not
    afford me! The contract had changed from one year to one term
    consultancy and I left feeling even more bewildered at the process.
    Assistant Principal (Teaching and Learning) over two days:
    Without
    doubt, this period was the most intense two days I have ever
    experienced at interview and exemplifies that the process can vary from
    school to school based on the personality and the needs of the school.
    At Headteacher level, I have heard that the process can last for three
    and a half days…
    Day one: For this interview the
    day began with a staff briefing in the staffroom. Minutes, messages,
    disgruntled faces (in parts), pigeon holes and worn out cushioned chairs
    are the staple diet of most staffrooms, but not this place. There were
    no minutes, and it only lasted three minutes… so I liked the place
    already.
    What followed was a very good tour. What I mean by this,
    is that it felt as if there were no stones left unturned and this is
    very important point to make. It shows the real character of the school
    and is just how it should be if schools are to appoint the "right"
    candidate. I liked the school even more…
    All the candidates were
    teaching a lesson and then had to create the all-singing, all-dancing
    performance of a lifetime in a stranger's classroom. What frustrated me
    about this stage, is that each candidate taught a different subject, to a
    different student ability and each in a different classroom
    environment.
    Following our own lesson, we were asked to observe
    two other staff-members' lesson and then feedback to them individually
    under close observation. After this had knocked the wind out of your
    sails, the "surprise" element of the day (and all interesting schools
    love surprises) was a mini-speed-dating version of Q and A meetings with
    middle leaders.
    I picked up my box of tricks and by 5pm I was
    home. Oh, and there is little time to relax and switch off, at 6pm I
    received "the phonecall". Regardless of the good news, it was all very
    efficient.
    Day 2: The anticipated phonecall that
    came the night before provided us with our brief for the day. A
    presentation topic related to the school's needs and also linked to the
    role of the successful post-holder. Plus an additional cliffhanger, a
    message to say we would be teaching another lesson, but with only
    one-hour's notice to plan on the day. It felt like being a supply
    teacher or being given a cover lesson all over again! It would be to
    another teacher's scheme of work (how frustrating!) and to a different
    key stage for a topic provided to us.
    Despite both my lessons
    being successfully delivered in unfamiliar circumstances, the surprise
    element of the day was yet to come. The remaining four candidates were
    to observe each other's lessons and then provide lesson feedback. This
    concept drummed up all sorts of thoughts into my mind and certainly
    raised the stakes for the position advertised. It was without doubt, a
    challenging, exciting and daunting prospect to complete after
    establishing minor relationships with the other candidates.
    Now I
    needed to provide a judgement and deliver this good or bad news to
    someone that – to them – was being delivered by their competition. It
    was a new experience.
    Again, my pet-hate, a presentation to be
    delivered in five, short minutes that was supposed to capture the vision
    of the school through my leadership. As swiftly as I entered the room, I
    smiled and fumbled my belongings together, logged off the PC and
    retreated to the holding room.
    Having made it to the final four, the panel were to deliberate over lunch and select candidates for the final interview.
    Feedback:
    "Congratulations Ross, we'd like to offer you the job. Please relax…"
    Again, the candidates I had come to know, were whisked off behind the
    scenes (I have been there) and I spent the next thirty minutes relaxing
    and revising for a final interview, for a job I had been offered.
    The
    interview was penetrating and I questioned the reasoning for the
    strength of interrogation after being offered the post. Perhaps I
    misheard the panel? Maybe I had been congratulated for being the only
    candidate shortlisted to the penultimate stage?
    Exhausted and
    believe it or not, grateful for the CPD, I managed to get home by 5pm.
    Thank goodness I had not spoken to my wife at 3pm to whisper the good
    news! I was dismissed with "we will call you tomorrow morning" but no
    sooner had I walked in the door, my phone rang and I recognised the
    number immediately. It was a "no"…
    One thing I know is that you
    cannot expect the interview process (for any job) to be similar as you
    may have experienced in your last interview, no matter how long that was
    ago. If you are successful for any teaching post, believe me, you have
    done very well.
    I can't help but wonder is it not time for a
    change? It may not be financially viable, but could placements be more
    suitable between schools, similar to leadership programmes?
    This article was published on The Guardian Teacher Network Blog.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/teacher-network/2012/feb/21/senior-leadership-interviews-jobs

     

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