Classic Teacher Interview Mistakes

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Want a new job? It's tough to avoid typical interview traps if you're not prepared for them from the outset. You're nervous and expecting an interrogation, so it's no wonder that so many slip up. If you have all the skills required and you're still failing to nail that dream teaching role, you could be unknowingly committing one of the follow interview mistakes...

Not being able to think of a response. 

1. Ask your interviewer to clarify the question

What most candidates do not appreciate is that they can always ask the interviewer to clarify any question that they have been asked. It is far more beneficial to do this than to guess what you were asked and risk losing out on a new job by providing a weak response.

However, be tactful in how you approach this, use examples such as:

Just so I am clear, you would like to know...

Would you mind repeating the question so I’m clear on what you’re asking...

2. Ask for time to think.

Don't just answer interview questions with a short, zero value response. Interviewers want you to tell them what a great candidate you are and what an excellent teacher you would be for the school. If you're a little nervous, or struggling to come up with an immediate answer, ask for a minute or so to think before replying.

Not answering the question directly.

If you’ve made your point, then stop talking and allow the interview to continue on. Develop each answer enough so that you’re thorough with your points, but know when to stop. Nothing is more annoying than a rambler. Plus, you’re supposed to be a good communicator, right? Don’t let the interviewer suspect that communication isn't your strong point, especially as a teacher!!!

Not knowing enough about the school

So they ask you a question that ties in specifically with their prospectus and all that you have to give us a vague answer, uh oh. There is nothing worse than having the obvious look of 'I didn't read up about your school' written all over your face in an interview, this portrays a lack of enthusiasm and passion and is an automatic rejection for many.

Research the school from as many different sources as possible. Check out their website, the staff, the headteachers message and aims. Find out their key aims and any recent events that they have taken part in. Perhaps they are big on charity, can you relate? Do you have examples of how and why you would be well suited to this specific school? Do you have previous experience that ties in well with the school's goals and ideas?

The interviewers are looking for an individual who will best fit or (ideally) exceed their specifications. Your past achievements are obviously important but only as an illustration of how you can relate them to the job/school requirements, so research and preparation is hugely important.

Forgetting to silence your phone

Sounds obvious right? But when your nerves are getting the better of you and you're doing some last minute prep on the internet whilst waiting, it's sometimes easy to forget that your volume is on high. Don’t put it on vibration mode. It can be still heard. Better yet, leave it at home/in the car and don't bring it in at all. Whatever your decision, double check that it’s off (maybe triple check, just for good measure).

Not having any questions to ask

It’s always a good idea to prepare a few insightful questions ahead of time (see previous blog here for help) —and if those happen to get answered naturally during the course of the interview, try putting a different spin on them. The panel wants to see that you have done your research, are invested in this job opportunity, and are excited about the potential of being a teacher in their school district. Think of two to three questions that show that you have an avid interest in the position, and that you are enthusiastic to be part of their team.

In being aware of these common issues, you will be far better prepared for each and every interview. It doesn’t matter how many you attend, you should treat each one in the same way and with the same level of commitment. The more you prepare, the more professional you will look.

Have your own interview tips? Tweet us your teaching advice at @staffroomed