Top Tips for School Interview Success

Have you been searching the school jobs websites and found a role that really wets your appetite and sounds like it was made for you? The next thing you know you've applied and have an interview lined up. It's an exciting feeling, isn't it?

So why does it seem like your heart drops into your stomach at the same time?

Feeling nervous about the interview process is completely normal. Interviews can be nerve-wracking experiences, filled with uncertainty and anticipation. However, it's important to remember that preparation is key to easing those nerves.

In this blog, we'll delve into common interview formats, share strategies for managing pre-interview jitters, and offer tips to help you approach the interview process with confidence and composure. So, take a deep breath, and let's tackle those interview nerves together and help you get that job you've dreamed of!

What happens during an interview for a school position?

Once you've applied for a role and been invited to interview, the school will usually communicate and share some form of timetable or agenda for the day. As part of the interview process, it's likely you'll have:

  • A formal interview with more than one member of school staff
  • A task (this may be seen or unseen prior to the interview day)
  • A teaching or small group activity

In addition to these, there may also be some informal elements woven in, such as interacting with pupils on the playground or engaging with staff members in the staff room.

Schools are able to choose the format and timings for the interview day. In some cases where there are multiple candidates for one position, schools will choose to only formally interview certain candidates after observing the completion of tasks. This ensures no ones time is wasted and removes unnecessary stress for candidates.

In addition, you might receive an invitation to stay for lunch or encounter breaks between different segments of the interview process. Utilise these moments to reflect on the activity you have just completed and mentally prepare yourself for the upcoming one.


What can I do to prepare for a school interview?

  1. Research the school - Familiarise yourself with the school's mission, values and ethos. Understanding the school's culture and priorities will allow you to tailor your responses effectively.
  2. Know the role - Thoroughly review the job description, person specification and the requirements for the role. Be prepared to discuss how your skills, experiences and qualifications align with the role and contribute to the school's goals.
  3. Prepare examples - Anticipate common interview questions and prepare specific examples from your past experiences that demonstrate your abilities, accomplishments and problem-solving skills.
  4. Highlight your passion for education - Communicate your genuine enthusiasm for teaching and your commitment to pupil success. Share anecdotes that illustrate your dedication to making a positive impact in the classroom and beyond, and don't forget to share why you've chosen to apply for this school in particular.
  5. Showcase your teaching philosophy - Articulate your teaching philosophy and how it aligns with the school's approach. Discuss your strategies for fostering pupil engagement, promoting inclusivity and addressing diverse learning needs.
  6. Demonstrate adaptability - Showcase your flexibility and willingness to adapt to the school's curriculum, policies and procedures. Be prepared to discuss how you have successfully navigated change and collaborated with colleagues in the past.
  7. Ask thoughtful questions - Prepare insightful questions to ask the interviewers about the school culture, professional development opportunities, support systems for teachers (including ECTs), and the school community. This demonstrates your interest and engagement.
  8. Emphasise collaboration and communication skills - Highlight your ability to work collaboratively with colleagues, parents and carers, and other school stakeholders. Effective communication and teamwork are essential in a school environment.
  9. Be professional and positive - Dress professionally, maintain good eye contact and exude confidence during the interview. Stay positive and enthusiastic throughout the conversation, even when discussing challenges or weaknesses.
  10. Follow up - Send a thank you email to the interviewers after the interview, expressing your appreciation for the opportunity to meet with them. Reiterate your interest in the position and briefly summarise why you believe you would be an asset to the school.


We understand that the night before the interview can be filled with restless anticipation. To alleviate some of that pre-interview stress, it's wise to prepare everything you'll need for the day ahead of time. This includes packing drinks and snacks, as well as selecting a comfortable yet professional outfit the night before. By taking care of these details in advance, you can start the day feeling more relaxed and focused on the task at hand.


What questions will they ask during the interview?

The interview questions you are asked will vary depending on the role and requirements as outlined in the job description and person specification.

As preparation, it can be helpful to look at examples of the types and styles of interview questions used. We have a large selection of interview packs with role-specific interview questions available including suggestions of what you might want to include or refer to as part of your answers. Looking at these can help you to consider some of the experiences you have gained up to this point and how you can apply and share these as part of the interview. You can explore the full range here.

Some top tips for answering interview questions effectively include:

  • Listen carefully and pay close attention to the question being asked. Remember to take a moment to fully understand it before formulating your response, and don't hesitate to ask for clarification if you're unsure about a question. It's better to seek clarification than to provide a vague or inaccurate response.
  • Structure your answers. You may find using the STAR method (situation, task, action, result) or a similar framework helpful. This ensures clarity and coherence in your answers.
  • Be specific and provide concrete examples and anecdotes from your past experiences to illustrate your skills, accomplishments and problem-solving abilities. Whenever possible, follow up your responses with specific examples or evidence to support your claims as this adds credibility to your answers.
  • Tailor your responses to highlight how your skills and experiences align with the requirements of the job and the culture of the school.
  • Frame your answers in a positive light, focusing on your strengths and achievements rather than dwelling on weaknesses or negative experiences.
  • Keep your answers concise and to the point. Avoid rambling or providing unnecessary details that may distract from your main points.
  • Demonstrate genuine enthusiasm for the role and the school. Let your passion for working with children shine through in your answers.
  • Practice active listening and show that you're engaged and attentive by nodding, maintaining eye contact and acknowledging the interviewer's questions and comments.


How can I calm my interview nerves?

 It's completely normal to feel nervous before and during an interview, so remind yourself that everyone experiences nerves, and it's okay to feel anxious. Focus on managing your nerves rather than trying to eliminate them entirely.

Start by imagining yourself succeeding in the interview and visualise yourself confidently answering the questions and connecting with the interviewer. Try to replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations, and instead of worrying about what could go wrong, focus on what you can control and the opportunities the interview presents. Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and tell yourself you've got this. You'll be home again before you know it, and it'll be ok whatever the outcome.

Plan to arrive at the interview location early as this gives you time to compose yourself, review your notes and find a parking space without worrying you'll be late! If necessary, drive to the school location in the days leading up to the interview so you know the journey and what to expect along the way - you've likely already done this if you visited the school prior to applying for the role. Drink plenty of water before the interview to stay hydrated and calm your nerves. Avoid excessive caffeine, which can increase anxiety.


And before you know it...


It's important to remember that we may not always get the first, second or third role we set our eyes on. The right role and school is out there waiting for you, so if you aren't successful for this position this time, ask for feedback and use it as a learning opportunity to support future interviews. It can feel disheartening at the time, but often there is very little in it when it comes to the interviewer making their final decisions. Sending you very best wishes - do let us know how it goes, and remember, you've got this!



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