Preparing for an Interview - 10 Top Tips
If you are reading this blog post, you are most likely preparing for interview or planning to interview at some stage in the future. Feeling daunted by an interview is absolutely normal. The best teachers can feel extremely anxious about upcoming interviews. Being asked questions and being marked on your answers, perhaps feeling judged, can awaken many feelings and emotions. Firstly, let's reframe those feelings of interview dread with the next sentence - An Interview is an Opportunity. Read that again. You are a highly qualified individual. Judgement does not live in the world of interviews, just opportunity! Preparing correctly will help you believe this and believe in yourself!
As teachers, we all know that preparation is key. Planning and preparation are among the core qualities of an effective teacher. Interview preparation is no different and there are a number of reasons for this. First and foremost, preparing for an interview provides you with an opportunity to organise all of the wonderful information and experiences you have gained so far, into structured, applicable answers which are relevant to the question being asked. When writing our bestselling book, 'The Primary Teacher's Guide to Interview Preparation', we developed a framework for interview preparation, consisting of six domains; Educational Setting and Context, Curriculum Development, Planning and Assessment, Policies and Procedures, Inclusive Practices and Relationships. It is vitally important that interview preparation focuses on all six areas. We have also developed an education specific interview response method, namely 'TEAM', to support you in structuring your answers well. Let's be honest, we are all guilty of going off on a tangent, now and again! The 'TEAM' response method will prevent this.
Preparing for an interview gives us a space to engage with current and up to date research, as well as new programmes and resources available to teachers. Interview preparation, above anything else, provides us with self-belief and the self-esteem to engage with an interview board in confident and self-assured manner. This is vitally important. You must believe in you - there is no one quite like you!
Tip #1: Positive language
Positive language is vitally important throughout an interview. An interview board want to appoint someone who is positive, expressive, informed and happy. A positive teacher, using positive language has a tremendous impact on a school community. Positive attitudes in the classroom are fundamental to promoting positive mental health in the classroom, as well as building the self-esteem and confidence of the children in that classroom. A positive teacher is also significant in developing staff morale and a satisfactory staff dynamic in a school.
Tip #2: Know who you are and what your strengths, qualities and talents are
This seems like an obvious one, but is often one of the first questions asked in an interview and can challenge candidates. The main reason for this is because it is a question that we often refer to as being “easy! I know everything about myself and what I am going to say”. It is only when you begin to say it out loud that this answer is difficult to structure as some information about yourself will not be relevant while other information is significant. It is one of the most important questions as if it is not answered well, can unsettle a candidate.
Tip #3: Promoting Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing
Now, more than ever, promoting positive mental health is fundamental to teaching and learning in our schools, reflected in the Wellbeing Policy Statement and Framework for Practice, introduced in 2018 by the DES. Holistic education is a comprehensive approach to teaching which supports positive mental health in our schools. This is where educators seek to address the emotional, social, ethical and academic needs of the students in an integrated learning format. It is important to be clear on ways in which you plan for the wellbeing of each child and holistic education in your classroom and therefore, promote positive mental
health within your classroom and beyond.
Tip #4: Inclusive Education
The term ‘inclusive education’ is one that can disorientate candidates throughout an interview. Inclusive Education is very simple, it means that all children are educated in one setting, have equal opportunity, are challenged, and are provided with adequate supports, irrespective of their needs. The NCSE (2011) spoke about inclusive education as ‘removing barriers so that each learner will be enabled to achieve the maximum benefit from his/her learning’. It is important for candidates to be clear on how students with Special Educational Needs, Gifted Students and all students’ learning will be planned for. Having a clear understanding of The New Language Curriculum and The Continuum of Support are great places to start!
Tip #5: What does an effective teacher look like?
We all know what an effective teacher looks like but do you have the appropriate vocabulary (buzzwords) to describe this? It is important to have a structured, applicable and relevant answer ready for this question. For example, an organised teacher is important, but an inclusive, well planned, child-centred teacher creates a picture in our minds of a superhero- this is what we want! More on buzzwords later!
Tip #6: Mandatory Policies
Mandatory policies are fundamental to the safe operation of any organisation, but particularly a school. Mandatory policies are policies which are among the most important documents in a school’s building. These include, but are not limited to:
- Child Protection
- Health & Safety
- Anti - Bullying
- Code of Discipline
Tip #7: Research the school and know what they value most
Knowing and referring to the achievements, values and priorities of a school is very important in an interview. An example of this may be that the school community are passionate about promoting positive mental health throughout the school. Can you add to this? What would you like to add? Have you engaged in any initiatives or programmes previous to this interview such as The Amber Flag Initiative with Pieta House? It is crucial that you make reference to the research you have done on the school and how you can be of help in further developing some initiatives and ideas.
Tip #8: Buzzwords
Buzzwords are key to interview success. A buzzword is a word or phrase that presents the interview candidate as someone who is knowledgeable and up to date with current research and initiatives. Here are some examples:
- Inclusive Education
- Collaborative Planning
- The Support Continuum
- Cooperative learning
- Holistic Education
- Multisensory Teaching
Tip #9: The Continuum of Support
The Department of Education has set out the Continuum of Support framework to assist schools in identifying and responding to students’ needs. The framework recognises that special educational needs occur along a continuum, ranging from mild to severe. The Continuum of Support is a problem solving model of assessment and intervention that enables schools to gather and analyse data, as well as to plan and review the progress of individual students. It is important to research this framework. The resource pack is available here: https://www.sess.ie/sites/default/files/inlinefiles/neps_special_needs_resource_pack.pdf.
Tip #10: The Ethos of the School
The ethos of a school is defined as the values and beliefs which a school officially supports. These values and beliefs underpin the vision of the school. It is important to research the ethos of the school. The ethos of an Educate Together school will differ to that of a Catholic school, and that of a Community National School. Understand this and prepare for this question.
How can the Primary Teacher Interview Consultancy help?
The Primary Teacher Interview Consultancy was established to help teachers, at any stage of their career, in any educational setting, engage in interview preparation and guidance, to realise and achieve their full potential. We offer a range of different services, including 1:1 Preparation Consultations, Interview Preparation Webinars, Our bestselling book ‘The Primary Teacher’s Guide to Interview Preparation’, Application Form Analysis and Support, as well as the introduction of Interview Preparation Courses to our website, launching in April 2023. The consultancy has many consultation plans which cater for those of all levels of experience and self-confidence within the area of teaching and leadership interviews. We delve into all relevant topics, current research, legislation, policies and circulars. We provide for well-structured answers and a high standard of vocabulary and language, also known as ‘buzzwords’. All consultations include a copy of our ‘Sample Questions Booklet’. We are here to support you, through guidance consultations and mock interviews, to ensure that you achieve your goals. We also help students prepare for PME interviews.
As a thank you to Elaine and all her followers for inviting us on to her blog, all followers receive a 10% discount when using ‘ElaineBA10’ on booking any of our services on our website, before the 26th of March 2023.
Follow us on Instagram for lots of tips & sample questions @teacherinterviewireland or email us at email@example.com with your questions, or to make booking find us at www.teacherinterview.ie.