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Top 5 Interview Questions

17/11/15

An interview is a good chance for you to evaluate whether you are a good fit for a school. Practice makes perfect even when it comes to interviews. Leigh, one of our consultants from Leicester, has put together 5 interview questions that you are likely to be asked and how to answer them. 

In my last blog we covered the top 10 tips to ace any interview. Today I’m going to discuss the 5 main questions that pretty much anyone who’s ever had an interview will have come across. These questions are the corner stone to any interview, but they’re also the biggest hurdles to overcome for a lot of candidates. They’re designed to assess your personality, how you think, and how you approach certain tasks. So, here we go…

Question 1: ‘Tell me something about yourself?’

Despite being a very simple question, this is actually the one question I ask in every interview that makes a lot of candidates look at me like a deer in headlights. The key to answering this question is to remember that the interview, most of the time, does not really want to hear about how you “love taking the dog for walks” or “enjoy socialising on the weekends with friends”. What they really want you to do is provide an answer that tells them why you’d be a good fit for the job. Detail your experience within education, why you enjoy working in education, and then close it off with a statement that verifies why you’d be a good fit for the school or the particular job.

Question 2: ‘What is your biggest weakness?’

Ah yes, the dreaded weakness question. I’ve seen this particular riddle ruin more than one perfectly good interview. So many candidates fall into the trap of taking strength and haphazardly turning it into a weakness because they think that’s what the interview wants to hear - trust me, it’s the exact opposite of what we want. “I’m too organised” is not a weakness, no matter how you word it! Nailing this question is actually a lot simpler than people seem to think. The question is designed to assess your ability to not only be introspective, but also to see HOW you approach issues. Are you unorganised? Do you struggle to focus when you’re under pressure? No problem, say that, but it’s important to say what you’re doing to correct this weakness.

Question 3: ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?’

An interesting question and one I use often when I’m torn between 2 or 3 candidates. This question is probably the easiest one to answer, because all it’s really asking is “are you reliable?”, “do you have goals?” and “will you add value to our school over a long period of time?” The easiest way to answer this question is to just have simple, clear goals in your mind before the interview and have a basic idea of how you plan to achieve those goals.

Question 4: ‘What is your proudest moment?’

This is actually something that even I have stumbled on a few times. Everyone has things that they are proud of - personal achievements, weaknesses they’ve overcome, the list goes on. And that’s where the trap lies. The interviewer doesn’t really want to hear your life story (see question 1), but they do want to hear an answer that outlines the benefits of having you work alongside them. The answers to this question truly are limitless, so keep it simple, and always ensure that your proudest moment relates to the job you’re applying for. Don’t get me wrong - that time you saved 15 puppies from drowning was truly heroic, but it’s not really relevant to teaching is it?

Question 5: ‘Do you have any questions?’

Saving the best for last! Across every interview I’ve ever done, I can safely say that 80% of candidates have either said “no, I think we’ve covered everything” or they’ve asked a question that really wasn’t relevant. That is exactly what you shouldn’t do, and it all boils down to whether or not you did your research and also how you chose to prepare for the interview. Make sure that you’re asking questions that are not only relevant to the position you’re applying for, but also relevant to the school. Use this time to build additional rapport with the interviewer. My favourites are ‘what do you enjoy about working here?’ and ‘what’s the main thing you’re looking for in a successful candidate?’ This is also a fantastic opportunity to follow up on your research - ask questions about the company history, how the position became available, etc. The opportunity to excel at this question is behind a locked door - the key is to be prepared.

If you'd like any more advice on how to approach interviews, here's a post on how to ace your interview, written by one of our bloggers.

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