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Top Ten Interviews

Updated: Jan 30, 2022

I am not in the current ‘teacher transfer window’ ahead of the May deadline but I have had a lot of interviews over the years – good, bad and ugly. Here in reverse order is my top ten.

10. Raising my hopes twice! Having been encouraged by a colleague who was a governor at this particular high school I spent a long day interviewing for Head of RE. I didn’t get it and they didn’t appoint. 3 days later I received a letter in the Headteacher encouraging me to reapply and suggesting what he wanted to see next time. Great! A month later and a re-run of the interview with several of the same candidates. I didn’t get it . . .

9. You’re my best friend. Turning up to one of my first interviews and seeing my closest friend from my PGCE there was tricky. The day went well but he got the job and I didn’t. It wouldn’t be the last time that our paths would cross in such circumstances

8. The internal candidate. On several occasions I have arrived at interview to find that there was an internal candidate, and on one occasion I was the internal candidate as my temporary position in my second school became permanent. The internal candidate has always got the job in interviews I have been in. (Yes, I know it’s not always the case)

7. The Remote interview. Imagine my excitement at doing a web video conference interview with the exam board for a Principal Examiner role. Predictably the technology fell over and the next half hour or so was spent shouting down a crackly phone line to Cambridge. Got the job.

6. Are you really sure? My first permanent job was offered to me after a fairly brief interview procedure and I accepted with enthusiasm as Christmas was coming and I had just purchased a £500 guitar. The Head’s response to my acceptance was ‘are you sure? Do you not want time to think about it?’ I should have read the signs regarding the challenges that were to come. . .

5. A bird in the hand. As several years later I made an effort to leave the school mentioned above, I found myself with two interviews in 2 days shortly before the May deadline. The day 2 job was the better job. Half way through Day 1 and seeing that I was up against a friend (see 9) I withdrew to focus on preparing for the dream job the next day. The day at ‘dream school’ went well and I almost got it. ‘You don’t have experience of working in a large team’ was their reservation and why I came 2nd not 1st. ‘You knew that when you called me for interview’ was my curt reply.

4. Salt in the wounds. Several years ago I applied for a senior internal role and was eliminated at the end of day 1. A colleague within my area managed to get through to day 2. (and ended up getting the job) My prize was to cover his lessons whilst he did the second day interview!

3. The walk of shame. During a bleaker time at my current college I made an external application to be Head of Sixth form at the high school one of my children attended. After performing reasonably well in the morning the field was cut from 6 to 3 for the afternoon and, despite their sympathetic noises about how well I’d done and the tough field, I was dispatched home. There is something about having to physically walk the mile home that seems to add indignity to not getting a job!

2. At least I teach in English. I came to interview at my present college for a position teaching RS and Philosophy. There were 2 candidates: myself and a colleague who also taught languages as well as RS. The interview went well and I was delighted to be offered the job. Clearly I had mastered this interviewing thing! It was only after I had been in post for a couple of months that my new line manager revealed that the colleague in question had argued that Kant should be taught in the original German and was proposing to spend time in A level RS doing just that. As he bluntly put it, ‘when you walked in, we were desperately hoping you would say just one vaguely sensible thing!’

1. Second in a field of one! The most bizarre interview I went to was my very first. I had applied to teach RE in a high performing high school. As I arrived on the Monday morning, a senior manager in a panic informed me that all the other candidates had got jobs and withdrawn over the weekend. Nevertheless they would proceed with the day. After a tour of the school and an informal chat about ‘National Records of Achievement’ among other things, they paused and told me that they were not going to appoint. They had major misgivings that someone who was a little unclear on NRAs should be allowed near their students. The sense of deflation when you are the only player and you still lose the game cannot be overstated!

By the way, I got my first job whilst 300 miles away on honeymoon. The school where I had done my PGCE placement had an RE teacher depart suddenly. Was I still available and could I start in 3 weeks time? The Lord provides and he moves in mysterious ways…

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