The Interview

Created on: 20 Aug 2020 | Last modified: 08 Nov 2021

woman talking

Teaching is not like any other job therefore teaching interviews will be different. 

The appointment process will be different depending on whether you apply to a pool or directly to a school, and also on to what extent headteachers in your education authority are given direct authority to appoint.

In most cases, the school may wish to see you and the other short-listed applicants teach a short lesson, meet with your prospective principal teacher and face an interview panel with key individuals from the institution and authority you have applied to. In some cases, pupils may have a role in providing an opinion to the interview panel.

Top Tips:

  • Reply to any offer of interview in a timely fashion and inform them of any additional requirements you may have well in advance; 
  • Double check the date, time and address of when and where the interview is taking place and put it on your calendar, in your diary or set a reminder on your phone;  
  • If you are not sure of the location or driving route – check it out online or in a practice drive;  
  • Carry out online research on the school(s)/ authority for details of the size, area and demographics, recent achievements and notable news stories, School improvement plan, school handbook and most recent HMIE inspection report;  
  • Prepare answers to potential interview questions in advance (more on this later) and prepare your lesson plan well in advance;  
  • Try on your best interview suit and shoes in the days before to make sure they fit, if not plan an alternative business-like outfit and have it hung up and ready to wear the night before your interview;  
  • Be on time;  
  • Look happy to be there;  
  • Use appropriate terminology like ‘colleagues’ to describe past and future workmates and ‘children and young people’, ‘pupils’ or ‘learners’ instead of kids.

Types of Interview

The format and style of interview varies depending on where it is held and who it is conducted by. In any circumstance the prospective employer will be looking for the same qualities to form their initial impression. Try to use open body language by smiling and appearing relaxed. Give a firm handshake and make eye contact when you meet the panel and while answering their questions.

Interviewers will focus on your application, your teacher training and any school experience and personal interests. Prepare specific examples of experience or good practice from your training and placements or from job or voluntary experience you may have had in scout leadership, sports coaching or youth work for example. Re-read the job advertisement, job outline, person specification and your own application again before attending the interview. 

Interviewers, on behalf of employers, usually look for: 

  • excellent communication skills
  • positive social skills with pupils and colleagues 
  • classroom management skills 
  • professional knowledge and understanding of your subject 
  • a personal philosophy about and commitment to the teaching of your subject(s) 
  • the ability to reflect on what you have gained from your course and placements and the awareness of your own development needs 
  • Real life examples of times you have used your skills and knowledge in practice 

Questions are usually scored by each interviewer and they discuss and choose who they think is the best candidate in private. The key people to impress are the headteacher and principal teacher who will line manage the successful applicant.

Pool Interviews 

  • These are usually held in Local Authority premises and the panel may be made up of a head teacher, education officer and other key education staff from the authority;  
  • The result of the interview usually follows in a few days;  
  • Even if you are successful you may need to be interviewed again by the individual school seeking a teacher.

Interviews for specific posts

  • These usually take place in the individual schools concerned and may include practical activities as well as a panel interview;
  • The interview may last up to an hour and the panel will be made up of teaching staff of various grades and individuals from across the education authority. In line with the rights of the child, Increasingly, pupils are being involved at this stage of the selection process.

Interview activities may include: 

  • informal discussions with staff during a school tour and the opportunity to meet pupils; 
  • teaching a lesson or part lesson; 
  • group discussion on topics such as recent developments in the teaching of your subject; 
  • interview by pupils; 
  • a presentation for which you will be given warning in order to prepare.

Interview Questions 

There is not always a guaranteed set of questions from which to prepare answers. Try to pre-empt what an interview panel might ask and prepare some examples from your teaching experience, previous employment or volunteering roles.

These might include: 

  • Why have you applied to work in this school? 
  • Tell us about yourself and what inspires you? 
  • What do you see as your strengths and weaknesses as a teacher? 
  • How would you ensure you respond to the differing needs and abilities of the pupils in your classroom? 
  • How would you cope with a child interrupting a lesson? 
  • How would you deal with a hostile or aggressive parent? 
  • Give an example of when you have worked effectively in a team?
  • How would you like to see your career develop? 

Most importantly, be yourself and let your passion and enthusiasm shine through. Good Luck! 

Feedback From Your Interview 

Prospective employers usually keep records of any interview process for a short period of time to protect themselves from potential discrimination claims. Schools also expect unsuccessful candidates to ask for feedback and we recommend that you do so. This is an opportunity to strengthen your future applications – not to argue whether the school made the correct judgement or not.