How to conduct an interview: A guide for schools

Looking for a new member of teaching staff is a very challenging task. From a relatively small window of time, you need to judge if the person sitting in front of you has the right skills, knowledge and is the right fit for your school.

Here we explore how to get the best out of candidates at an interview so you can make the most informed decision possible. This will involve deciding what questions need to be asked, what tasks are appropriate and how to assess each candidate.

How do you properly conduct an interview?

Understand additional support requirements before the interview

Giving every teaching candidate an equal opportunity is vital; therefore, you must ascertain whether any candidates require additional support and make sure everything requested has been actioned before the interview begins. This is not only best practice, but it will highlight your ability to respond to a candidate’s needs and improve their interview experience and increase their view of your school.

Use the same metrics to measure candidate performance

Let’s face it – we all know that recruitment decisions will, at least in part, be made on a feeling or gut instinct. So, how do you guarantee you’re making a logical and unconsciously unbiased decision?

We recommend setting key questions to ask every single candidate (more on this in the next section) and having a scoring system in place. That way, every teacher has the same opportunity and will be measured the same way.

Remember that you’re not just looking for technical competency or subject knowledge but attitudes such as flexibility, enthusiasm and passion, too. Articulating these requirements to everybody involved in the interviewing process from the outset will lead to a fair and objective selection process.

It is always good to have more than one person attend the interview and score the candidates, as this helps to moderate and bring objectivity to those gut feelings.

How to conduct a teacher interview

Questions to ask in a teacher interview

We have all been to interviews, where we get to the end and wonder if we know any more about the candidate than when we started. This is why it’s vital to have pre-set questions to help you get a complete picture of any potential teaching staff.

The starting point for your set of questions should revolve around exploring the candidate’s qualifications, knowledge, skills, experiences and, of course, safeguarding.

As an interviewer, do not hesitate to ask follow-up questions or explore a topic that interests you or is particularly relevant in more depth.

It’s also recommended to ask for real-life examples of what the candidates have done or how they’ve approached certain situations.

Here are some sample questions to get you started:

  • What qualities make a good teacher?
  • What qualities do you possess that make you an effective teacher?
  • What has been your most proud achievement in your career so far?
  • Can you describe a behaviour management strategy you’ve used and the results?
  • How would you approach teaching a class at different levels?
  • What is a teacher’s responsibility in keeping pupils safe?
  • What would we see and hear if we came into your classroom during a lesson?
  • Can you describe a situation where you improved a classroom’s teaching and learning process and how you measured its effectiveness?
  • What are some current issues facing the classroom?

The role of the interviewers is to enable the candidate to share as much relevant information as possible in a limited timeframe – not to try and catch them out. It is essential to keep in mind that nervousness in an interview does not necessarily translate to nervousness in the job. Do what you can to help your candidates give a complete response by rephrasing or giving prompts where necessary.

Don’t forget to leave space for the candidates to ask you questions; recruitment is a two-way street, after all.

Interview tasks to set potential teachers

Setting a task during the selection process is now a reasonably well-established tool across many different roles within schools. There are a variety of tasks that may be beneficial to include as part of your interview process, such as:

  • A ten-minute presentation on a relevant topic.
  • Delivering a short session to some of your students (with supervision in place).
  • Designing a lesson plan on a given subject.
  • A case study or in-tray exercise.

Be sure to plan what is expected of the task thoroughly, and give teaching candidates sufficient time to prepare so that they can give as accurate a representation of their ability as possible.

When planning an interview process, take a step back at every stage and ask how you can give your teaching candidates the space they need to prove their ability and give you the fullest picture possible.

Don’t forget that an interview is as much about you convincing them to join your school as it is them convincing you to hire them. So, make sure you leave space throughout the interview for candidates to ask any questions they may have about your school, processes, progression opportunities or your benefits package.

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