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Interview Tips from a Supply Teacher

16/07/18

As a long term supply teacher I probably experience job interviews on a more frequent basis than most people. We replace staff teachers for any period requests that the right candidate is fully qualified and capable to cover all aspects of school life. We need to be able to maintaining the same ethos, as well as good grades. Interviews can be a simple micro lesson observation or a more ‘full on’ process. For a Head of department position, I have had to give a 15min presentation on my vision for the department, a one hour lesson observation as well as a multi panel Question & Answer interview. Sometimes the school wants the Student Council to interview you in addition to the adult panel. One school told me that their young interviewers, (all 15 of them) are never wrong on their judgments.

In my experience, the questions from Head teachers/interviewers hardly differ, questions such as ‘What does an outstanding lesson look like?’, ‘How would you engage a disinterested student or manage a disruptive student?’, ‘A student is withdrawn, what would you do?’ An experienced teacher would take these questions in their stride. Ironically, one Head teacher said ‘I don’t like to ask standard questions because the candidate can research and rehearse a correct answer’, she then proceeded to asked very generic questions. I have found that one way to alleviate nerves can be to mentally think of the interview questions as a ‘quiz’, especially if you have researched the type of questions likely to be asked.

Whether you are successful or not, it is important to learn from the experience. I always ask for feedback and have found most of it constructive and useful.

Another very important factor, especially if your self-confidence has dipped as the result of an unsuccessful interview, is to always remember that there might have been influencing factors outside of your control, such as monetary restraints.

For many years, I used to be responsible for hiring staff in my department in London and the final deciding factor for me was always the personality. If two candidates had the same qualifications, I looked at which candidate would work best in a team environment or be prepared to assist others. Again, most of my successful appointments have resulted from showing the interviewer what I can do as well as my personality in action.

During any interview, there can be so many factors outside of our control; all you can do is to act upon the ones that you can indeed control.

Be punctual.

Be smartly dressed.

Have the correct experience/ qualifications and present yourself with confidence (not arrogance).

Be passionate and during the interview questions, let your answers show that you have done your research thoroughly.

One additional asset will be your personality and interpersonal skills. These can sometimes be even more important than having top grades.

Ultimately, you can only do your best, learn from the experience and allow it to reinforce your determination.

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