Interview Techniques

By: Steve Morgan

Interview Techniques

Programme Outline:

???????? Your CV

???????? Your Appearance

???????? Your Panel of Interviewers

???????? Your Personality

???????? Your Curriculum Knowledge

???????? Your Answers to Questions

???????? Your Contribution to the Corporate Life of the School

???????? Your Final Questions

???????? Your List of "Don'ts"

???????? Your Reaction to the Phone Call

Your CV:?????????


  1. Work hard on this because it gets you to the interview.

  2. Use quality paper with spiral binding if you can because it lies flat when they are sorting them. Remember your CV could be one of hundreds! And it has to stand out.

  3. Use photos with you working with a group of children.

  4. Personal information needs to be succinct but salient.

  5. We will discuss your final College of Education report in detail.


Your Appearance:????????


  1. Be comfortable with your clothes so you don't fidget.

  2. It is better to slightly overdress than under-dress, but certainly not flamboyant. Males shirts tucked in!

  3. Be well groomed. Shoes clean. Ladies not too much makeup.

  4. Carry yourself upright and confident especially if you are a tall female. Be proud of your height.

  5. Wear a genuine smile; use a firm, no nonsense handshake.

  6. If you have to wait in the foyer tell the receptionist what a neat and tidy school they have etc.


Your Panel of Interviewers:?????????


  1. Shake all their hands and say a smiling "Good morning!"

  2. Try to seat yourself so that you are at the apex and not in the middle where you have to swivel when answering questions.

  3. The Principal will probably ask questions about your strengths to see if you have anything to offer the school. He will know the school deficiencies.


4.???? The Staff rep. or Deputy Principal will ask Curriculum/Management questions to see how well you can control/teach.


  1. The Board of Trustees Rep. will ask about your hobbies etc and perhaps how you would fit in with other staff, or even travel and accommodation.

  2. Concentrate on the Principal and Deputy Principal as they will have the most sway in the debrief after you have gone!

  3. When first answering the question look at the person who asked it and then to the others when you have nearly finished.

  4. If you muck up a question and start digging a hole it's best to just stop and say, "Gee I made a mess of that! Sorry!" with a laugh. "Did you mean......?" and start again. They will appreciate that you can make mistakes and admit them without trying to wriggle out of the question.

  5. Every panellist will be watching your reactions; so take your time and answer with confidence because often there isn't a 'right' or 'wrong' answer. They just want to hear you express yourself. What they are doing is summing up whether they want you teaching their kids! An enthusiastic, caring teacher with a personality.

  6. Sit yourself comfortably but don't slouch.


Your Personality:?????????


  1. In the Real Estate business it's? "Location! Location! Location!" In interviews for teachers it would have to be: " Enthusiasm! Enthusiasm! Enthusiasm!" This is what will get you the position.

  2. Your CV got you to the interview so now it's up to you to stand up and say, "Pick me! I'm the one for the job!"

  3. Your enthusiasm should be passionate. Let it show. Let it all hang out! You have nothing to lose, yet!!!? Give them what they want to hear. "I've always wanted to be a teacher. I love working with children. Teaching has such a lot of rewards. I love it when children smile when you praise them." Seriously though, you need to be an actor if your are ever going to be a successful teacher. Use your hands, your eyes and your voice - sell yourself - no one else will. The Deputy Principal will recognise this spark.

  4. You have to strike a delicate balance between firm yet fair.


Your Curriculum Knowledge:


  1. This is where the Principal and Deputy Principal will be paying particular attention.


2.???? Have prepared a successful lesson you have taken (or would like to take). Don't hesitate - make it seem like you have hundreds of them. From a folder bring out your whole lesson:

???????? Planning from the curriculum documents or school plan with cross-linking if possible. E.g. use Health to teach Maths graph work.

???????? Your objectives and how to cater for slower children.

???????? The activities to achieve these. Make them exciting - Science

???????? The outcomes that occurred

???????? How the children recorded their work

???????? How you assessed it. Formative and summative

???????? Any follow-up lessons needed.


  1. This is where your enthusiasm becomes really important.

  2. If you are not asked to go through a lesson you have already taken then they should ask how you would plan a lesson. Go through the steps outlined above. Have one ready and off by heart.

  3. If you are asked for your strengths, hesitate slightly and rattle off all the curriculum areas you can think of. Current popular ones are: Dance and Drama; ICT experience; Health. While these are powerful remember -

  4. Maths, Science, English are the basics we absolutely have to be skilled at.

  5. Never, ever say you have a weakness. If you have to say something, then say - " I have attended courses or private tuition to strengthen my expertise in clay modelling or lifesaving skills. Never a curriculum area.

  6. Try to learn the strands of all the major curriculum areas.


Your Answers to Questions:?????????


  1. How will you establish the daily routines within your classroom?

  2. What discipline strategy will you use and how will you introduce it to the children?

  3. How will you establish a safe learning environment/atmosphere?

  4. What is the difference between "formative" and "summative" assessment?

  5. How will you create a challenging, vibrant classroom?

  6. How will you identify and cater for the range of abilities in your classroom?

  7. How will you address the Treaty of Waitangi requirements within your classroom?

  8. You have just been given your first class outside the Hall. Tell us what you would do from there until playtime. Give us as many details as you can.

  9. Sometimes the first question asked by a non-teaching person would be: "Why did you take up teaching?" or "What is it about teaching that you like?" It's meant to relax you!? BUT these are really hard to answer if you are not prepared.? If it's the first question you need to get it right. The rest of the interview hinges on it!

  10. If asked about travelling any distance to work every day don't give them the impression it's an imposition or a hurdle of any kind. Get the job first!

  11. Some simple-minded person may even ask, "Why should we employ you at our school?" No matter how dopey you think the question is (if it's asked by a Board member, they will think it's clever) be prepared to give all your strengths and your personality attributes. E.g. enthusiasm, open-mindedness, quick learner, passionate about teaching.


Your Contribution to the Corporate Life of the School:


  1. Teamwork will feature in their minds. I enjoy working with others on activities for children.

  2. Are there any sporting skills you can bring to our school?

  3. Dance and Drama skills will always be welcome - Choir or Major Productions. Did you have any acting parts in your schooling?

  4. Are you artistic or have a flair for displaying children's work.

  5. Can you play the piano or the guitar, or could you even take the recorder.

  6. Professional ethics can be a hot topic. I will discuss this with you.

  7. What will you do at lunchtime? Don't say, "Eat my lunch." It will go down like a lead balloon!!!!!


Your Final Questions for Them:?????????


  1. Always have at least two sensible questions for them to answer. Just remember not to antagonise them with any difficult questions. They may interpret it as being aggressive.

  2. If I prove myself, is it possible this "fixed term position" could lead to a permanent one next year?

  3. Is there an Induction Folder for staff so that I can be aware of school policies and routines?

  4. If I win the position would it be ok if I visit the school a couple of weeks early to get to know the staff and the layout of the buildings and resources?


A List of Don'ts:????????????????


  1. Don't be flippant or try too much humour.

  2. Don't prattle on

  3. Don't theorise too much. It's boring.

  4. Don't criticise any other school or associate you had in the past.

  5. Don't not be available for that important phone call!

  6. If you really want the position accept straight away with obvious delight. It makes them feel good because they then have the unenviable job of ringing all the non-appointed applicants.


Good luck

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