Perform your best in your teaching interview
Vinny Potter from The Careers Group, University of London lets you know how to impress at interview for your first job, whether it’s a panel or pool interview, and gives tips for the sample lesson.
In partnership with:
Teaching & Education +5
This article has been written in partnership with AGCAS.
Interviews will focus on your application, your teacher training and school experience, previous work experience, interests, suitability for the particular school, and what you can contribute. You should be prepared with specific examples to offer your interviewer.
Interview days can include a tour of the school, a panel interview and teaching a sample lesson. They may also include an interview with pupils and group or written activities (such as marking children's work). If you get an interview, confirm that you can attend as soon as possible and try to arrange to visit the school prior to the interview day.
When it comes to the day of your interview, remember that first impressions really do matter. Dress smartly and be aware of your non-verbal communication. You’ll get off to a good start if you smile as you enter the room.
What skills are interviewers for teaching jobs looking for?
Interviewers will want candidates to demonstrate:
- excellent communication skills, including effective listening and the ability to construct well-thought-out answers
- positive social skills with pupils and co-workers, with the ability to motivate
- classroom management skills
- professional knowledge and understanding of your subject
- a personal philosophy about, and a commitment to, the teaching of your subject or subjects
- the ability to reflect and an awareness of your own development needs
- motivation to work for that school or local authority (LA).
Pool interviews compared to interviews for specific teaching jobs
- Pool interviews are usually held in the offices of the LA and the panel may consist of a head teacher, an inspector or adviser and perhaps a school governor. Make sure you check the consequences of acceptance or rejection with regard to future opportunities within the LA.
- Interviews for specific posts usually take place at the school concerned and may include a number of other activities. Interviews may last up to an hour and panels are likely to include a combination of head teacher, teaching staff and governors. Increasingly, pupils are involved at this stage of the selection process.
- Recruitment days are organised by some education recruitment agencies. These allow you to be matched with a range of schools and conduct multiple interviews in one location.
What to expect from your teaching interview day
- Panel interviews or traditional Q&As: these usually last for 30–45 minutes with the head teacher, a governor and a classroom teacher or head of department. Check out our information about typical teaching interview questions to help you prepare.
- Informal discussions: these may be with a senior teacher, head of department or other members of staff and could take place during a school tour. Be sure you show interest by talking to pupils. This is a good opportunity to ask questions, but remember you are still being assessed.
- Teaching a lesson or part-lesson: for this, you will usually be asked to teach a class, so check the availability of resources at the school before you do your planning. During your interview you may be asked about the lesson, focusing on your planning, learning outcomes, assessment techniques and evaluation of how the lesson went.
- Group discussions: these are more common for secondary school posts. You will be assessed on your knowledge of the topic and ability to work in a group. Take an active part in the group without dominating the discussion.
- Interview by pupils: these are often part of the interview process, even in primary schools. Ensure you engage with the students positively and ask them questions about them and about the school.
- Presentations: for secondary school posts or more senior roles you may be required to present to the panel.
How to prepare an interview portfolio
Most schools do not ask for a portfolio. If they do, remember to:
- include evidence of your work in the form of photos, mentors’ reports, sample lesson plans and so on. This will help support your answers
- provide original certificates to prove your qualifications, if required.
Teaching interview preparation tips
When getting ready for an interview, be sure to:
- re-read all aspects of your application (particularly your supporting or personal statement and research)
- make sure you have specific examples from your school experience to demonstrate how you meet the selection criteria.
- read the educational press so you can discuss current trends and educational issues
- prepare a rough outline of your answers to sample questions
- think about questions to ask the panel; write a list and take it with you
- ensure you can demonstrate your commitment to the particular school as well as to the teaching profession generally
- contact the school in advance if you require additional resources for the taught aspect of your interview, or if you need more information about the group you will be teaching. This could include class size, ability or age range.
- plan your journey and allow plenty of time to get there
- dress smartly.
You’ll find more information and general advice in our section on interview techniques and tips for graduates.