Interview matters; mistakes to avoid

On Saturday 1st July 2017 Katie Paxton-Dogget and I made our way to Aureus School in Didcot for the #WomenEd Regional event. We are grateful to Hannah Wilson who gave us the opportunity to present on governance.

The topic we chose was “interviews; how not to get them wrong.” Here are the slides from our session. I’ll write a sentence or two about each slide so they make sense when you see them.

Slide 3: Not going on a school tour is a mistake. Candidates should visit school to get a “feel” for the place and the area which you won’t get from looking at websites. Do you want to work in that school, in that area? Do you want to live in that area? Can you commute? What about your spouse’s job and you kids’ school?

Slide 7: Send off for the application form. Many places now ask you not to send your CV. If that’s the case then don’t. You’ll be wasting your time.

Slide 8:Read the application form carefully. What is the job spec and can you do it? Do you want to do it?

Slide 9: What is the person spec and do you match it? Here A is Application, I is interview. E is essential and D is desirable.

Slide 10: The essentials are essential. You may not be shortlisted if you don’t have the essentials.

Slide 11: Take great care filling out the form. Don’t leave it till the last minute.

Slide 12: Take your time over it. This is your chance to sell yourself to the panel. Don’t rush when filling it.

Slide 13: Another mistake candidates soetines make is not answering what was asked. For example if a CV is not required then don’t send in one.

Slide 14: Not proofreading is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Proof read it more than once. Leave it for a week or so and proofread it again. Then ask someone else to read it for you. They may pick up some mistakes which you didn’t. If you can get someone not in education to read your application, then they might pick up something you think is clear but is actually not.

Slide 15: Governors especially don’t like spelling mistakes! Don’t rely on spell check.

Slide 16: Some applicants fill out as many application forms as they can. They change the name of the school and that’s it. They copy and paste the rest. The panel can usually tell  if you’ve done that. It’ll be very clear that you aren’t applying to their school. Tailor your application to the school.

Slide 17: Don’t think you’ve been shortlisted to make up the numbers. We don’t want to waste our time or yours. Another mistake people make is thinking if there is an internal candidate then the panel has already decided to appoint the internal candidate. This is wrong. We want the best person for the job. If you think the interview is a formality and the internal candidate will be appointed then you will be selling yourself short. And this will also affect your performance.

Slide 19: Don’t wing it! Be well prepar3ed for the interview. Research the school as much as you can.

Slide 20: Appearing uninterested or unprepared will not endear you to the panel!

Slide 21: Another mistake is not asking any questions of the panel. The interview is a two way street. Ask questions to work out if you’ll be happy working there.

Slide 22: Being prepared is good but don’t give answers which appeared to be rehearsed. For example if asked what’s your biggest weakness don’t say things which sound trite or show a lack of insight.

Slide 23: Don’t badmouth current/previous employers. Don’t appear to be angry. Panel has only your side of the story so they won’t be able to make a judgement if what you are saying is correct.

Slide 24: Trying to fudge answers never goes down well. Give honest answers. For example gaps in employment. Remember the Apprentice interviews!

I saw an article on how to ace presentations  during interviews so I thought I’d add the link, in case it’s useful for people reading this post.  




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