Preparing for an interview

Woohoo – you’ve just received a call/email or letter inviting you to interview. Well done! Now how do you prepare? What type of questions will be asked? How many people will be there? What do I wear?

Click here for my list of Interview Questions.

How many people?

Usually there are 3 people – the principal, the chairperson of the board of management and one other.
The 3rd person could be a principal from another school, a retired principal or another member of the board of management.

What do I wear?

Dress smart – you want to make a good impression! But also make sure you are comfortable in what you wear.
Men; suit or shirt and tie and suit trousers
Women; suit, dress and tights, heels or flats. (Make sure you don’t wear a low cut top or a skirt/dress that is too short.)

What are the criteria for interview?

Before the interview – you should be sent a ‘criteria for interview’.
(However, some schools do not send this – so don’t panic if you don’t get it.)
These might include;
  • Personal qualities and interests
  • Professional qualifications and relevant experience
  • Commitment to the ethos of the school
  • Ability to contribute to extra- curricular activities
  • Performance at interview

How to prepare for the interview

  • Read through the criteria for interview. 
  • Read back through your application – if there is anything really interesting/unusual – be prepared to talk about it (Did you go travelling? Have you set up a school choir? etc.)
  • If you said ‘I am very creative’ make sure you have an example.
  • Check out the school website (How can your skills/talents contribute to this school?)
  • Think of 5 things that you can offer this school – music? sport? drama? science? experience? experience in learning support? experience in support? experience in a DEIS school? extra courses – SEN? trained mentor? ICT etc. (Make sure to mention these during the interview!)
  • Make sure you know where the school is and how long it will take to get there. If you are not from the local area – test drive at the time you will be going for the interview. Always leave yourself time for unexpected traffic. (Personally, I leave about 30 mins for this – you can sit in the car and finish preparations there.)

What to do before the interview;

  • Arrive early 
  • Smile and introduce yourself to the secretary
  • Sit down and relax 

What to do during the interview;

  • Smile and walk in with confidence.
  • Shake hands with each of the interviewers
  • Sit down
  • Back up what you say with an example. (I am very creative – I make all my own resources to cater for my pupils. Usually, I use my ICT skills to create powerpoints, presentations and games. This keeps children interested and motivated to work hard and make good progress.)
  • Don’t rush to answer questions – take some ‘think time’ – this will help you to organise your thoughts.
  • If you are unsure of the question asked – ask for some clarification.
Do you have any questions;
  • What extra- curricular areas are available in the school?
  • What support is available to NQT’s?
  • When does the position start?
  • What class group is the position for?
Thank the interviewers for their time – smile and leave.

What to do after the interview;

  • Pat yourself on the back – well done you!
  • Don’t mull over what you should have or could have said better, we all get nervous and forget things when asked in an interview and interviewers are aware of this.
  • Treat yourself – today I went for cake 🙂 

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