Caroline Downing is the Primary Programme Leader at the Bedfordshire Schools’ Training Partnership(opens in new window). She interviews applicants and assesses their potential to become successful classroom professionals.
She believes the key to receiving an offer for a training place lies in effective interview preparation. Here are her tips.
Confirm your attendance to any interview invitation and pay attention to what is being asked of you on the day. Interview formats can vary. If in doubt, make a phone call to the provider to ask for clarification.
2. Professional dialogue
Often email is your first line of professional dialogue with providers. Be mindful of using formal language to support your application. Text speak in emails may not go down too well! Follow the tone set by the provider in any written communication.
3. Be informed
Know what you are applying for. Routes and training programmes differ, and you may have applied to several providers. Training provider websites will give you key information. You can refer to this information at interview.
Make a note of any key staff names and who to ask for on your arrival. This will give a positive first impression. Take some time to find out about the teachers’ standards, safeguarding in schools and the national curriculum.
4. Remote or face-to-face
Interviews may take place via an online platform. Check that your camera and sound are working beforehand. Join the ‘call’ on time and consider your screen background beforehand.
If you are travelling to an interview venue, allow yourself plenty of time on the day. Scope the area beforehand as you might not be able to park right outside. Some sites are large and will require you to walk some distance. If need be, do a practice run to reduce stress levels on the day.
5. Be organised
Have everything ready for the interview the night before. Bring any required documents and supporting materials together in a plastic wallet. Having additional copies readily available for providers sets the tone that you are well-organised. Remember key equipment; a pen, any teaching resources and a small bottle of water.
6. Dress to impress
Smart and well-groomed is key. Have your interview outfit ready the day before to reduce stress. Be you and be comfortable but consider professional clothing to create a positive first impression.
7. Be ready for questions
Organise your thoughts and prepare some clear responses to likely questions. Why do you want to teach? What can you bring to the profession? How will you manage the workload? Consider your skills and attributes. Expressing a desire to work with children is not enough! Remember this is a chance to sell yourself and prove your commitment to the interview panel. Don’t be afraid to show your strengths and consider your areas for development. This shows a reflective mindset.
8. Answer questions in full
Candidates are often nervous at interview and either say very little or talk too much! Ensure that your responses to questions provide interviewers with a full reply. Keep on track when answering a question and if you are unsure of how to answer, be honest and tell the interviewer. Be receptive to any feedback that you are given throughout.
9. To say or not to say
Teaching is all about effective communication. Think about your verbal contributions — articulation, pronunciation, pace, tone, and pitch will provide an interview panel with an idea of how you would communcate in front of a classroom.
Non-verbal communication is just as important. Consider your body language and facial expression. It’s not always easy when you are nervous, but confidence and a warm smile speak volumes when you first meet someone, particularly if you are meeting through a screen.
10 . Showtime
Remember that you are ‘on show’ for the entire interview. Many providers interview in school settings. Make a positive first impression with reception and office staff, teaching staff and children alike. Be friendly, attentive, and polite at all times and maintain that professional persona.
11. And finally…
…get a good night’s sleep the night before, eat well and stay hydrated on the day. Breathe, stay calm, be confident and positive. Above all enjoy the enriching experience of interview. Your teacher training journey is about to begin!
Good luck everyone!
Talk to an adviser with years of teaching experience to get one-to-one support with your teacher training application, including help preparing for interviews.