Teachers struggle in job interviews

Research by recruiter Randstad Education reveals that one in seven teachers has been late for a job interview

In the specialist recruiter’s poll of teachers, 14% admitted having been late for interviews – compared to the national average of 9%. Other common mistakes included failing to prepare properly (17%) and forgetting to take an important document – a CV for example – to the interview (14%). While 6% said they had offended the interviewer during the meeting, another 3% admitted to being dressed inappropriately. And almost half (46%) of teachers admitted their mind had gone blank in previous interviews compared to the national average across different industries and sectors of 41%. 

Jenny Rollinson, managing director of Randstad Education, says: “Teachers always drum home to their charges the importance of looking smart and being punctual – but they are failing to take their own advice in interviews. Clearly, turning up late, dressed inappropriately, without a copy of their own application for reference, is not going to mark you out as a potential future head. But it is staggering that almost a sixth of teachers admit to not having done their homework ahead of the big day. The old army adage is never truer than in the interview scenario – proper planning and practice prevents poor performance. It’s not enough to assume your intellect and experience will get you through. You have to do the prep.” 

Just 32% of teachers consider themselves well-practiced interviewees, with 40% deeming themselves “rusty” and a further 21% claiming they have never been any good at interviews. 

Jenny adds: “Due to the demanding nature of the job, interviews need to be rigorous to ensure that candidates have the appropriate experience and character to handle the role in question. While it is not uncommon to find teachers who find interviews daunting, it is surprising that so many teachers regard themselves as bad as interviewees. With what is effectively constant on-the-job presentation training, they should be exceptionally confident in these sorts of situations. 

“But it’s also potentially worrying that three-fifths of teachers think they aren’t any good at job interviews. If a lack of confidence is putting people off going for new jobs and moving as freely as they could through the education labour market, we have a problem. Teachers already tend to hold a position in one school for a lengthy period – and as a result they don’t have exposure to as many interviews or styles of interview. It is important to ensure that the interview process doesn’t become so daunting that good teachers are deterred from pursuing bigger jobs. We need more leaders in the sector – more great teachers stepping into heads of studies and deputy head roles. Without them we will be left with a massive bottle neck at those crucial levels.” 

Almost two-thirds (64%) of teachers said they felt interviews were tougher than they used to be (compared to the UK average of 41%) and only 6% felt they had got easier. 

Jenny says: “On average, the teachers we polled had last undertaken a successful interview process ten years ago and a great deal has happened in the profession since then. It’s a tougher environment – more results focused. Teachers need to approach their interview opportunities with an ability to talk through their performance in detail – whilst still ensuring they place enough emphasis on asking the right questions to determine the culture and ethos of the school they could be joining.” 


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