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Unsuccessful interviews

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by sara2323, Oct 16, 2015.

  1. sara2323

    sara2323 New commenter

    After resigning from my post, I managed to secure 3 interviews however have been unsuccessful in 2. It has been highlighted that my data analysis skills are strong as are any presentations, however my interview answers are not specific enough. I am so nervous that by the time the interviewer has finished asking a question, I forget what they asked or I don't understand their question and waffle on about something I thought they said! In any other circumstance I would be able toamswer their questions as I have experience in those specific areas.

    The first interview lesson I planned using age specific objectives was told it was too easy for the chn (although got my current position using similar lesson with same age group!), Today I taught a challenging lesson again age appropriate but was told it was too difficult although most pupils demonstrated clear progress at end of the lesson. I also watched another candidate do a similar lesson to my original one and the headteacher walked out saying he delivered a fantastic lesson! I'm not sure if there is one specific syle of lesson that fits all schools!

    Does anyone have any interview advice please, the only questions I seem to answer well are to do with strengths/weaknesses and related to safeguarding.
  2. Anonymity

    Anonymity Occasional commenter

    Maybe bad advice...

    Be true to yourself re lessons. Teach how is good for you - you want them to hire you because they like what you do, not hire you for doing something different that you will then have to continue emulating. Hope I am being clear there.

    Theo posted something about mind maps for interviews - excellent idea. Have a search for it.

    Good luck
    sara2323 likes this.
  3. marlin

    marlin Star commenter

    Theo's advice about mind mapping is here

    There's also more useful links from Theo here
    sara2323 likes this.
  4. irs1054

    irs1054 Star commenter

    I once had an interview (20 years ago) which included a 25 min mini lesson. We were only told what the lesson was going to be about when we turned up to the school. The other two candidates were local and I had travelled hundreds of miles to attend so they could go back to their schools, pick up some gear and use that in their lessons. I went back to my hotel room.
    The following day when we had our lessons I was drawn last behind the other two. In effect I did 25 mins of Q&A on the topic, explaining stuff asking questions etc.

    The Head who was observing had clearly decided what I was doing was useless although I noticed that several students who appeared disengaged at the start were contributing at the end. Needless to say I did not get the job in spite of trouncing the other two candidates in the interview (LA adviser's opinion)

    The Head gave us some feedback in which he criticised my lesson as dull and boring but also admitted that he had asked the students who they though was best out of the three. I was their unanimous choice. He asked them why and they replied "because we learned more".

    You cannot second guess what schools will want in terms of teaching style, all you can do is your best shot. Use your own experience to guide you in what you think is best.

    As to the interview questions, there will be some that come up again and again. Have a look at the guides that TheoGriff has produced and use these to help focus on what you think is the best answer. You can do some research into the school to see if there is an ethos that you can use but as Anonymity said "be true to yourself"

    Somewhere out there is a school for you. Best of luck.

    P.S. Also if you get bad vibes from a school then don't be afraid to walk away. You need to be hard nosed about this. There appears to be too many schools where unreasonableness is the order of the day. Also ask about pay and what the job is actually about don't assume from the blurb. Ask questions.
    scattykatty, FolkFan and sara2323 like this.
  5. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    Thanks, @marlin!

    You can be my Tourist Guide. ;)

    sara2323 likes this.
  6. MineField

    MineField New commenter

    And it could be a case of simple statistics. Let's say 4 people get invited to interview each time. They all must have something going for them, at least on paper, or they wouldn't have been invited. So, you have a 1 in 4 chance of getting a job, and you've only had 2 interviews. Also, you are being invited to interview - there'll be people who didn't even get that far.

    I agree with other posters - just be yourself and the right school will choose you.

    I once did massive amounts of preparation for a job interview, researching the school thoroughly and preparing tailored answers to possible interview questions. I got the job - but, boy, do I regret it - I wish I'd given answers that were true to my own values, because I wouldn't have got the job, and I wouldn't have ended up working for a psycho, who ran the school like a dictatorship.
    monicabilongame and sara2323 like this.
  7. marlin

    marlin Star commenter

    @TheoGriff It took me quite a bit of time and persistence to find the mind mapping blog - the search engine wasn't much use. I don't expect you're surprised to hear that though!
  8. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    I am probably in the top percentile of all teaching /ex teaching staff in terms of entitlement to be downright fu<king cynical about interviews, I once had 28 (TWENTY EIGHT) before securing even a temp position! Before the whingeatariate jump down my throat have you ben there, no, then don't ****!ng judge!

    Bascially keep trying long enough and you will get lucky somewhere, beyond the we already have an internal ********, we will only actually appoint an NQT w@nkers etc,
  9. sara2323

    sara2323 New commenter

    Thank you lots of great advice, yes think the mind maps maybe what I need. Someone suggested that I should listen out for keywords and then use them in my answers, I feel really embarassed asking interviewers to rephrase the question or repeat.
  10. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    The articles have only just been transferred, and in disorder.

    They also need to be totally revised as they have links to Old-TES that are dead.

    Which is what i am still working on at gone 10 at night. :(

    So I was pleased that you did that for me! @marlin

  11. happygreenfrog

    happygreenfrog Occasional commenter

    We learn how to crack the interview. It doesn't come immediately and we are confused by the lack of professionalism by those involved in interviews. I'm pretty sure, the panel have their favourite prior to the day and it is up to that person to mess up to give the others a chance. Each school has their own view of what type of person makes a teacher; I've lost opportunities through prejudice at my hairstyle. Personally.I'd always go for the individual with personality, but in my home city 30% of schools are church affiliated and they like solid practising Christians. I've sometimes been surprised at the uninspiring choices made.

    Employment is often a case of cheap v experience. For a couple of years I was regularly beaten by someone with greater experience than me. The posts I was applying for were always mid-year ones and in those circumstances the school probably needed an experienced hand more than at other times. Eventually I became the person with experience and secured regular contracts. I was always calm at interview but success ease the pressure and you relax more. I rarely prepared more than the basics and simply talked about what I did in the situations: you flow naturally and demonstrate practical skill instead of theory.
  12. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    That's fine if you can manage this effectively, @happygreenfrog , so well done you! Some people would dry up, others would waffle, in these circumstances. Knowing that you are well prepared can give confidence.

    Best wishes

  13. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    I am often in a position to console my PGCEs when they return empty handed from interviews. The best thing for them to understand is that heads don't hire the best teacher. Head hire the person who best fits the 'hole' they have in the timetable for subject knowledge and expertise with certain students. If I want an NQT I'll hire an NQT. If I want an experienced person who won't need extensive support for BM that's what I'll hire. If I've lost someone who can teach several topics at A level that's what I will go for. I then have to come up with reasons as to why the other candidates didn't get the job. The 'right' person has to be able to teach, but then fit the role I have in mind. If the person with the right expertise isn't a good teacher then I might trade off someone's teaching expertise against their lack of subject knowledge or experience and go with a different candidate.
    Once you understand this, you can see why you sometimes seem to mysteriously lose out. Internals, people who have been on cover and are known, etc., all add to the mysterious mix.
    My advice is to really flag up what you bring to the school and department other than an ability to teach your phase or subject. Focus on what makes you stand out from other teachers who can teach and who might not be quite as good as you in the classroom, but whose all round contribution is more helpful to a school than yours.
    sara2323 and bombaysapphire like this.
  14. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

  15. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    PS apologies for the 'intensity' of my views in the earlier post. You can tell it was a Friday night post drinks post! Although the views themselves still hold!
    sara2323 likes this.
  16. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

  17. marlin

    marlin Star commenter

    I did wonder if you were feeling quite well. It was unlike your usual considered responses.
    Hope you're not suffering too much this morning!
  18. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    No, a strong cup of tea from Whittards has done the trick thankyou!

    TES (and the online world in general) ought to have a 'sobriety self declaration' form or even breathalyser before it lets you post!
    marlin likes this.
  19. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

  20. purplecarrot

    purplecarrot Senior commenter

    Which is why the best advice is to do what you do well and if you're right, then you'll get it. In my interview for my new post a member of SLT said that anyone can write a covering letter and if you get shortlisted you're probably a great teacher but they're after the best fit for the school and want to see what candidates are really like. I loved their honesty. It meant in my interview I felt very comfortable just being me, knowing that whatever the outcome was, they we're making a judgement whether they thought I was good/bad.
    sara2323 likes this.

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