An interview is a big deal. It is the rite of passage that separates the candidate from the job. For the school it is equally important. Go in ill-prepared and disorganized and we might end up with members of staff who will give us headaches for years. This week we are talking about the interview process, but in this post I am going to set up the interview with some preparatory work.

Setting Up For Right of Passage


Let’s say we have had thirty candidates for our job offer. Somehow we have to winnow this number down to five or six we will invite for interview. We should feel confident about this because all the steps in the employment process have been clear up to this point. We have a well-designed website with information that can help candidates, we have sent an application pack that includes an application form, a personal letter and a detailed job description. All the members of the hiring team have been involved at every stage of the process so we can be fairly sure that we are speaking as one.

Our next step is to set up a review meeting where we can go through all the applications and share our perceptions. Hopefully we have a sufficient number of good candidates that it will be straightforward to eliminate the ones that fall short of our qualifying criteria. We should aim to have three piles: yes, maybe and no. We aren’t going to rush out a no to the ones we reject; we are going to focus on the maybes.

Leonard is particularly keen that we should look out for people with a positive motivation for working at the school. We do not want people who are “anti-state” or go on about the “sickness of the culture”. If possible we would like someone who has had a successful career where they are rather than someone who is running away from a series of failures.

Maybes are probably lacking some information or detail on their application form. If we do not have enough on the yes pile, it is prudent to give them a call on the telephone to see if the lacking detail is an oversight or represents a real obstacle. I recommend a phone call because it gives the task the right level of urgency and directness. An email is just too slow and unpredictable.

Once we have five candidates on the yes pile we can invite them all to interview. At this point we shall say, “We are impressed by your application and would like to invite you for interview. Are you still interested in the job? We will pay your interview expenses, but we expect you to be prepared to accept the job if you are offered it. The conditions of the job include two years mentoring. Please make sure that you are eligible and willing to accept the job before making travel plans.”

Interview Questions

On Wednesday we are going to talk about the interview.

The first stage of the interview is where we make the candidate feel at ease. Although the questions are social they will also give us valuable information.

  • How was the trip?
  • Was it easy to get here?
  • Tell us a bit about yourself.
  • What is your hometown like?
  • Pick up on personal details from the application form

The second stage of the interview should have questions that will be asked of all candidates. We are going to bash this about a bit on Wednesday, but here is a preliminary attempt. (Note that we prefer open-ended questions.)

  • As you went through the website there was no point at which you said no. What are the main reasons you want to apply to this job?
  • Can you tell us about your journey as a teacher? How did you get into teaching? What was that school like? Can you tell me about a difficult experience? Can you tell me something positive?
  • Can you explain to us the job that you think you are applying for?
  • Why do you feel that you would be a good candidate to transition into a leadership role?
  • Looking at website looking at photos and listening to podcasts have you ever had experience of that kind of environment before?

There will also be some “problem” questions:

  • What would you do if a child does not want to be in the classroom?
  • What would you be giving up by taking this job?
  • Are your friends and family behind you?
  • What would you do if a child was swearing all the time?

I would also like one or two yes/no questions:

  • Do you have any religious belief or affiliation?
  • Do you accept two years of mentoring?

It should be an interesting conversation. Hope you can join us.

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