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How to... Get through your teaching interview

You're sitting there. Waiting for your time to come. Your moment to shine. You’ve probably walked around the school (and if so, make sure you've used this time to speak to the teachers and children to find out more about what the school is really like!) and now it's time to have your ‘chat’.

As easy as it is for me to say this, try not to let yourself get too nervous. See it as a chat with someone about why you want to be a teacher at that school. Let your passion show and have faith in yourself.

Normally, the interview panel (it could be the Head teacher and a governor, or even some children) will ask you some questions about yourself, your teaching experience and your approach to certain aspects of education.  If you have done a lesson observation, there will almost certainly be reference to this,  so be prepared. Don’t be too harsh on yourself here – remember this is your time to sell yourself. Having something to talk about during the interview, such as what the children achieved or what the adults did, helps keep you in control of the chat. It means that you can talk for longer about what you want, and while the panel will have their questions to ask you, anything you can do to keep in control will help.

It is okay to take time to think about your answer. Acknowledge the question and then answer it when you’re ready - within reason!  If you don’t know the answer, try not to waffle your way through it. It is better to say that you’re not sure but that you think such and such, or that you will find out, than to say something that you may regret afterwards. Your interviewers will know that you're an NQT and they won't expect you to have a pile of knowledge and experience at your finger tips. 


Part of your preparation may be to bring in a portfolio of work. I remember when I was training, some of the more artistic people on the course spent days creating these amazing portfolios, but I wasn’t artistic and worried that my paper folder with a few pieces of work that I was going to talk about wasn’t enough. But I shouldn't have worried. For that first interview I had been asked to bring in some work that showed progression of teaching, so I selected some pieces from a child over a period of time and photocopied them to give out at the interview. I used these as a reference while I talked about how I had helped the child make this progress. It was simple yet effective. I wasn’t spending time trying to find the right page – it was all there in front of everyone, and I knew exactly how I had achieved this progress with the child, so I could talk about it with confidence.

The interview will usually end with you having the opportunity to ask a question. This is a great time to ask about something that you have seen while visiting the school or when walking around before the interview. If you haven’t had the opportunity to do this, you could ask about extra-curricular activities that go on at the school, which gives you the opportunity to share what extra things you could bring to the team.

After the interview, you wait some more.  Make sure you keep your phone nearby and on loud, so you don’t miss the call. If it’s bad news, ask for feedback so that next time you know what you can work on. Hopefully it will be good news, and you’ll be on your way to a fulfilling career as a teacher!

Good luck!

Ben Case
Ben moved from teaching Primary (although he trained in Secondary!) to joining the Foundation Stage Forum (FSF) in 2019. He has taught in Reception and in Years 1 and 4. When he’s not answering Tapestry customer support queries, he can be found writing content for the FSF and Tapestry websites, browsing Twitter or running the Facebook ‘Tapestry Support Group’ account. He still dreams of being an F1 driver but makes do with watching races for now!

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