How to make a good impression at interview – Grinch Style

If you use the information in this post, please make a donation to a charity close to my heart: Farms for City Children (set up by Michael & Clare Morpurgo)

This post is part of a trilogy in 4 parts.  Parts 1-3 are published, part 4 is being formulated as you read this:

  1. Giz a job
  2. The interview Lesson
  3. Operation Interview
  4. Now the real work begins:

So, you have an interview.  DON’T PANIC!!

This is only a problem if you don’t know what you are talking about 😉

Here’s a cunning plan.

2 weeks before

Do your homework:

  1. Trawl the school website to ensure know the school ethos inside out.  Which parts do you share?
  2. Know what events happened at the school in the last term.
  3. What are the improvement points from the last Ofsted?
  4. Does the school tweet or blog?  If so – make your presence felt.
  5. Interpret their Ofsted  data dashboard. 
  6. Google the Head, what other interests do they have?

Buy a suit:

  • Blokes: If you are new to the suit buying business, try to buy one from a shop (House of Fraser or John Lewis) selling the trousers & jacket separately, so that the trousers fit you and so does the jacket.  Remember you are buying a business suit, not a disco suit.  Get help to make sure the trousers are the correct length and buy a pair of shoes with laces, velcro won’t cut it a interview.  Shirts aren’t shiny.  Buy a decent, vibrant tie, not a cutsy cartoon one.  that’s not cool.  Finally learn how to tie a proper tie knot. Oh, and polish your shoes.
  • Womens: I have no insight and no useful advice.

Prepare for the questions:

Have clear pictures in your head about the following:

  • What relevant skills & experience you have.
  • Why you want to teach (please make this better than the lightbulb cliche).  What are your core values as a teacher?
  • Why do you want to work at that school?
  • How does your skill set match the needs of the school, as you understand them from the Ofsted data & reports?
  • How will your classroom organisation and management match the ethos and values of the school?
  • What examples do you have of working as a team?
  • How will you manage the assessment planning cycle?
  • How will you work with TAs & parents?
  • What stories can you tell which show some of the coll stuff you can do in the classroom?
  • What would you like to ask them? (Ask about further study & career opportunities, not how much support they will give you)
  • Know your data, what progress did kids make on your last placement, how will your skills plug the gaps in the school’s data dashboard?

Develop your portfolio:

  • This is straightforward – I would go for an A3 folio ( such as the ones arts students flounce about with).
  • collect and display key pieces of evidence demonstrating your core skills & values.
  • Annotate it.
  • Make sure you know where each part is, so that you can refer to it in the interview quickly if required.

Write a checklist:

  • Make a list of everything you want to take.

The night before

  • Get everything ready – laid out, in a pile by the door, go through your check list, remember your notebook.
  • Get sleep.

On the day


Pay attention:

  • The school is trying to establish if you meet their criteria.  Make it easy for them. Explain to them how you match.
  • Use the walk around the school to do some research, make notes on the following:
  • Which displays did you think matched your aspirations?
  • What is the marking policy, have you used something similar?
  • Ask the children about the behaviour management policy, have you used something similar?

Smile, lots:

  • Especially at children & teaching assistants, try to talk to everyone, try to catch names & remember them if you can.


  • If you are allocated time to wander around the school, try to clock which teachers meet your eye and then seek them out and offer to help out with a group in their lesson.

Flatter them:

  • Without being a nauseating creep, find things in the school to complement and explain how you aspire to match them in your practice at the school.

Be Humble and dignified:

  • You are a visitor in the school, remember your pleases etc.
  • If you decide that the school isn’t for you, then withdraw before the formal interview.
  • You are working with the school to establish which of the candidates fits best.  This isn’t exactly a competition.
  • Reinforce that you know you have lots to learn.


If you get the job, remember that it was a just outcome.  A victory jig is in order.

If you don’t get the job, remember you were still the best looking one there and move on,  you simply weren’t the right fit.

If you use the information in this post, please make a donation to a charity close to my heart: Farms for City Children (set up by Michael & Clare Morpurgo)

3 thoughts on “How to make a good impression at interview – Grinch Style

  1. Pingback: Giz a job! – Writing a personal statement or letter of application | The Grinch Manifesto

  2. Pingback: Comment: Planning for the dreaded interview lesson | The Grinch Manifesto

  3. Thanks for the guide Pete, very helpful.
    For those interested in interview questions I have compiled a list (by no means exhaustive) of the kinds of questions you may be asked from personal experience and those of friends and colleagues. I will also be adding to it in future.

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