The week before last was quite a week for me – hence the reason why it has been a while since my last blog post, I apologise but I really needed last week to recover.
Last Monday, my application for a NQT position at my current school – starting in September – was due. As soon as I heard on the Friday afternoon that a position was available, I immediately knew I had to apply. I am a big believer in following your heart and doing what feels best for you. Although it is still very early on in my training and I have not yet been to my second placement school, I am thoroughly enjoying myself at my school and feel that it is somewhere I am (and hope will continue to be) very happy. Therefore, it felt right for me to apply and when asking myself in preparation for my interview why I wanted to work at the school, I was easily able to answer.
Last Wednesday I had both my University observation and an observation by our ITT Co (who is also the assistant head at the school). These both went well and I was happy that they were behind me. This was because I had my interview to prepare for the following day. So I thought I would write a post about my interview and the kind of questions I had to answer as this is something all trainee teachers will have to deal within the next year and will hopefully offer some helpful advice.
My interview was 30 minutes long (the time flew by) and was with the deputy head and the head of English. I felt very relaxed with the two teachers and they made me feel at ease as soon as I entered the interview room.
These are the sorts of questions I was asked:
Why do I want to teach?
Why do I want to teach at this school?
Do I support the English department’s notion of mixed ability groups? Do they help learning?
What challenges have I faced so far in my teaching?
How do I deal with failure? How do I approach this issue with students?
The school is extremely diverse; how do I approach this in my subject?
How would I deal with a controversial text? What if my head of department was against me teaching a text, how would I deal with this?
How would I deal with a safeguarding issue?
If offered the job, would I accept it?
Generally, you will also be asked to reflect on the lesson you taught. Remember to discuss the progress and don’t be afraid to admit if something didn’t go to plan – this will highlight that you are still learning but are keen to improve and develop as a teacher.
Many of the questions I had prepared, I was not actually asked. I had researched the school’s data, the importance of data, the elements of an outstanding lesson, my short term and long term goals etc. However, although I was not asked these, I feel they helped me have a better understanding of the school, why I wanted to be there and they really helped me to reflect on my teaching practise thus far. I took notes with me into the interview and although I did not consult these at all, they helped me feel prepared and feel more confident. My mentor also advised me prior to the interview, that when you are asked a question, you are allowed to ask for a moment to your compose yourself and your thoughts. Once again, in my interview I didn’t need to ask for this moment, however, it was reassuring to know that if I was asked a difficult question, I wouldn’t be frowned upon for requiring thinking time – after all, we give this (hopefully) to our students each time we question them. Another piece of advice that I was given that really helped me, was to walk into the interview believing that the job was already mine. Although this feels rather pretentious, it allowed me to feel relaxed and I actually enjoyed having the opportunity to talk to members of senior and middle management about my teaching experience so far.
A question you will always be asked and must be prepared for is regarding safeguarding. This is something you should have learnt about during your training anyway however the main points to get across are that you will deal with the issue immediately, you will not ask any probing questions, you will tell the student that whatever they tell you, you have to pass this message on and you will immediately report it to the head of year or pastoral director.
Similarly, you will be asked at the end of the interview whether you would accept the job, if it were to be offered to you. Hopefully, as you have stayed until this point, you will say yes. Remember, you are being interviewed by extremely busy people and therefore if you do stay through the whole interview day, you are implying that you are very interested and you are not wasting their time.
The good thing about teaching interviews is that you find out on the day whether or not you have the job. I was very fortunate to find out at the end of the day that I was being offered the job and I gladly accepted!
Good luck to everybody with applications and interviews. When invited to interview, remember to smile, make eye contact and show your passion for teaching – which hopefully at this early stage in your career is still very evident!