Interviews: Tips and Tricks

Hey Everyone, 

Apparently I can start applying for NQT (teaching) jobs in December – arghhh! I don’t feel prepared AT ALL, it’s crazy! I haven’t even done my work placements yet, let alone completed my course!!
Anyway! Thought i’d share with you some interview tips and tricks that I’ve picked up that will hopefully see me and some of you get jobs that we really want! If you’re not applying for jobs right now, they might come in useful in the future! 🙂
I know that I’m writing this with teaching in mind but i’m sure a lot of these things can cross over into other professions.

Early Bird
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Make sure you plan your journey and get to the interview early. Sounds pretty obvious but I know people who have got lost on the way to their interview and never made it! So always make sure you plan your route and if you don’t know where it is, do a test drive! If you do a test drive though, try and do it when you’d be travelling or a time when there would be a similar amount of traffic. This is so that you get the timings right. I took a test drive to my placement the other day, i’m dreading the real thing. It took 25 minutes with Sunday traffic so the roads were pretty empty but there’s a lot of junctions I know I won’t be able to get out of in a lot of traffic :/

Greet All Staff
Make sure you greet the receptionist when you get to your interview. I didn’t know this but apparently the headteacher asks the receptionist for first impressions of you so make sure you greet them appropriately and don’t use any inappropriate language in front of them. Basically – make a good impression from the moment you walk into the school or workplace. The same applies to any workplace that has that initial person who greets you. The interviewer will ask for first impressions about you.

Look Smart
Again, a pretty obvious one. Blazers are always a wardrobe staple for interviews. I have quite a lot of black blazers aha they go with everything! If applying to schools, try not to wear a skirt, even if it is knee length, especially if applying to a nursery/reception class because you won’t be able to get down on the floor to interact with them without flashing inappropriately!

Portfolio of work
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This is basically helping you sell yourself. It’s not essential for every interview but I’d suggest doing one. You can collate pieces of work you have done, any other references you have, any training you’ve been on relevant to the job. For teaching interviews, you can include copies of observations you’ve had done on your teaching placements, lesson plans of lessons that have gone well plus examples of the children’s work and photographs you’ve took during the lesson. It just helps to provide examples when answering questions and guaranteed a question for teaching interviews will be: what lesson have you taught before that went well and why? So having this portfolio will help you out here. You can apply this to other jobs as well though, for example, any work you felt went well throughout the year or any feedback you got from managers or customers.

Examples
Make sure you include examples in most of your answers to their questions. It shows you can demonstrate qualities they are looking for within their setting or a similar setting. Don’t just rely on one example for all questions though, they want to see a range of examples. Make sure if you say anything negative that happened, remember to make sure how you dealt with it, what you learnt from it and what you’d do better next time to show them progression and improvement.

Be prepared – Draft your answers
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Sounds silly but google what questions are typically asked in your sector of work and then plan out some draft answers to the questions. Don’t obviously plan them in word for word detail but include what examples you’d use and what key words you’d use to make them realise you know what your talking about relating to the job.

Research
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Make sure you research  the workplace you are applying for. In my uni interview they asked me if I’d been on the website and whether I could name some stuff of it. I know someone who has had this question when applying for a job too. In schools, there more likely going to ask you about the ethos of the school and how you could improve the school if you get the job. Make sure you look at their OFSTED ratings and what OFSTED have said about how the school can improve!

WHY?!?!
It is almost guaranteed that you are going to be asked why you want the job and also why you want to work at that particular place. Try to avoid answes that everybody would give, for example for teaching – ‘I want to inspire the children’. Try to make your answers personal to you. Include previous experiences, previous role models who might have inspired you and any experience of you as a child in a school and what you’d do differently or the same.

Eye Contact
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In interviews, there would usually be more then one person conducting the interview. Make sure that when you answer questions, you don;t just look at the person who asked the question, but make eye contact with everyone.

Your weaknesses
EVERY interview will ask this and i’ve always thought that you kind of turn a negative into a positive in these situations, for example, I’m a perfectionist – I love to get things finished. I have recently been told that everyone will do this so try to avoid it. Try to answer with something that you can improve on and provide the way you intend to improve, for example, I haven’t attended any parents evenings yet so I am hoping to contribute to one on my next placement.

Smile, laugh and…
BE YOURSELF!! Employers want to see that you have a personality and that you would be easy to get on with within the team. They don’t want to work with someone who doesn’t crack a smile once and seems off and cold. They are going to emply the warm and friendly person. Not that anyone on here would have that problem… everyone seem’s lovely 🙂

ASK QUESTIONS
At the end of the interview, they’ll ask if you have any questions. I always feel awkward and usually say no but apparently this is a big NONO. They want you to ask questions so you show an interest in the job and the workplace, so make sure you go in armed with some questions to ask. It can look badly on you if you don’ have any questions. As i’m going to be applying for NQT jobs, I’d ask what support i’d get from the school during my NQT year.

At the end, make sure you say…

THANK YOU 🙂

Hope this helped 🙂
Good luck if you have any job interviews coming up!!
Thanks for reading,

Emma Charlotte x

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