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How to be amazing at interview – PP28

The topic of the week is How to be amazing at interview.


interviewThere were 7,000 job advertisements in the Times Educational Supplement last week but how can you make sure you do your best at interview? Whatever level of job or course you are applying for, Paul has fool-proof techniques and approaches to ensure you stand out from the crowd. What to wear to an interview Even before thinking about what you are going to say at interview, think about what you are going to wear. This is not an opportunity to show how wild and wacky you are in your spare time – nor is it the time to bring out all your matching accessories. Interview panels want to see people who have made an effort. Paul hates wearing ties but does wear them often because first impressions matter to some people.

Similarly, going to an interview in casual dress does not make you look relaxed, it makes you look unprepared.

So, wear the smartest clothes you have, can borrow or can afford to buy. Plan your interview answers Most teaching interviews follow a very similar pattern once you get to the interview stage. Rehearse what you are going to say following this 3 stage plan, which are the 3 things the panel will want to know from you: 1. State what you believe. Your first response to any question should be a belief statement. The panel wants to know you have principles on which you base all your actions and attitudes. 2. Explain how your experience to date has brought you to that belief. You should make it clear how you have developed the beliefs – through teaching experience, through reading and through your own personal development. Don’t say how passionate you are – it’s not enough to have passion without a basis of belief gained through experience and learning.

“When I was working with that child it made me believe that…”

Be specific, use evidence (like real data) and remember the power of an authentic story. 3. If you were appointed, what would you do?

“Using some of the experience I have brought from my previous experience, I would immediately meet with colleagues and see how we could together improve…”

Paul suggests preparing at least 15 answers in advance – each split into these three sections. You may only use 5 of these but it gets you used to answering in this format and thinking about the structure of your answers. Even if you are nervous, you can fall back on this structure and sound intelligent. If you try and busk the interview, you will lose the panel in the first two minutes. It will be obvious you have done no preparation or homework and you will have no chance of getting the job. When asked a question which seems like a ‘curved ball’ – something completely different, Paul suggests trying to think of an example, a story from your experience to help you  feel like you are on firmer ground. You can also ask for clarification which often helps you by giving you a little more time to think and a bit more explanation of what the panel member is looking for. If you are well-prepared for the rest of the questions, the one or two unusual ones will be much easier to deal with because you will feel confident for the vast majority of the time.

Most of all, the panel want to know that you like working with young people.

You are being assessed throughout the whole day Paul points out that everything you do is being watched on an interview day. Everyone you come into contact with notices what you do, how you conduct yourself. If you are shown around the site by children, they will report back on whether you spoke to them, whether you were really interested in them. However, don’t use opportunities throughout the day to sell yourself because you may come over as arrogant. Rather, be in a state of humility – ask the children about their learning and about the school. Ask the teachers about how loing they have been there, what they think the best thing about the school is. Show your interest in the staff and the children. If you have a chance to visit a class, don’t hover by the door – go in, kneel down by a learner and talk to them about their learning. You will notice things which aren’t quite right alongside all the brilliant aspects of the school – don’t draw comparisons with the way you do things at your current school or have done things in the past – ban the expression, “The last school I worked in…” In fact, ban this phrase even if you get the job! Presentations If you have to to do a PowerPoint presentation, be careful to avoid the basic pitfalls you probably would always avoid in the classroom: – Don’t find yourself apologising for the video not working, having forgotten your USB stick, or  preparing for things to – anxiety will ripple through the panel and your presentation will suffer. – Don’t read off the screen – the panel can read quite well – the PowerPoint is not your notes – you can have your notes on cards if you need them. – Don’t tell the panel what it already knows by putting the school behaviour policy or mission statement on the screen – Face the panel, don’t be tempted to face the screen – look the panel in the eye – If you use a colour scheme, do some research and adopt the school’s own logos and branding – show the panel you have taken the time to find these things out – Use no more than 3 words on a slide – Use lots of pictures – Use video clips or audio if you can make them reliable In fact, in Paul’s experience, many interviewees have clearly not done any research – sometimes they don’t even seem to know that the school is part of a federation or some other crucial element. Consider not using PowerPoint at all – it marks you out from the rest of the candidates – in a positive way. Make sure you tell the panel that you have chosen to speak to them directly rather than preparing a PowerPoint. Often, the panel end up concentrating on the PowerPoint rather than you. This way your message can be much more powerful with a direct connection to those listening. If 10 people are asked to prepare a presentation, 8 or 9 will use PowerPoint, 6 or 7 will use PowerPoint appallingly. Cut down the odds by considering presenting without this kind of visual aid. Being observed teaching a lesson Most candidates try to teach too much – 7 different learning objectives and 12 different learning outcomes just aren’t going to happen with a group you have just met in 45minutes. So: – Don’t try and teach too much – Try and teach one thing brilliantly – Don’t try and teach as if it is part of a series of lessons – it clearly isn’t – Don’t try and show ‘100 different ways I can teach’ – Try and actually teach the group something rather than giving them a set of funky activities to keep them quiet – the panel are interested in whether the class have learned something and whether it looks lik eyou are going to be able to develop good relationships with the learners – Meet and greet at the door – Don’t start the lesson with a ‘here are the rules’ speech – Consider using a praise board – Be interested int he learners – Don’t go over time – Drop down and talk to the learners – Talk to small groups – Pull individuals aside and re-focus them on their learning – Don’t try and do a lesson from the front – Consider using a ‘5 minute plan’ and give it to the observer – Don’t change direction in the middle of the lesson – If you have been given a tricky group you may need to use some behaviour management strategies – as we have discussed on the podcast in previous weeks The ‘final’ question! Is there anything you’d like to ask us? If you have nothing to ask – don’t feel you need to make something up. Instead, use the opportunity to say something like, “No, I feel really up-to-speed with where the school/college is, you’ve been extremely helpful. I’m really exciting about the possibilities of taking up this post and thank you so much for your time today”. If there is something which has concerned you earlier in the day, you might want to ask about it – but consider speaking to one of the panel separately. For lots more detail and discussion, listen to the episode! Announcements: New free iPad App! Be the first to download and use this amazing new app! Students love using the Pivotal Progess Sliders app on iPads to track their progress during lessons. You can also save progress and return to it in the next lesson. Brand new 5 Minute Assessment for Learning Plan released in collaboration with TeacherToolkit What went on in London!


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