24 tips for your first interview as a teacher


The communities of the Teachers for Change and Kopskuif-Onnies (Huisgenoot) Facebook pages have advice for young teachers being invited for their first interview. 

  1. Read the advert for the vacant post carefully. In most cases you will need more than just a teacher’s qualification.
  2. Do as much research on the school as possible by questioning people in the community. If you get the opportunity to talk to learners about what they would like to change in the school, grab it with both hands. This will give you a good insight into the school.
  3. Enter the interview room self-confidently and greet everyone with a handshake. Address people by their titles.
  4. Sit upright, speak clearly and don’t fidget. Make eye contact when speaking.
  5. If you don’t know something be honest about it. Don’t say what you think the panel wants to hear. It’s no use promising things and later ending up unhappy in the post.
  6. If you don’t understand the question, don’t waffle. Ask the questioner to expand on the question.
  7. Know your strong and weak points. What can you offer that makes you stand out from other candidates? (Perhaps extramural skills or additional courses you’ve done.)
  8. Be yourself. They want to know who and what you are.
  9. Questions that often crop up (for which you can prepare):

  • How would you approach difficult learners or parents/maintain class discipline?
  • What are your suggestions for fundraising?
  • What resources do you use to make lessons interesting?
  • What are your strong and weak points?

  1. Make sure your passion for your subject and children is obvious.
  2. Keep up to date with the Caps curriculum information.
  3. Be positive about the changes in education – an interview isn’t the place to complain about the education department, the schoolbook crisis or curriculum changes. Schools want teachers who want to make a difference.

Three American headmasters write in their blog (curtrees.com/2011/04/20/teacher-interview-tips-from-the-principal) that the most important thing is to be yourself. “The fact that you’ve been called for an interview shows you’re suited to the post. Now they’re just going through the suitable candidates to find the one who will best fit in at the school.” Other things the headmasters highlight:

  1. If this is your first post don’t pretend you know it all. The panel know from your CV you have little experience. If your lack of experience was a problem they wouldn’t have invited you for an interview.
  2. Wear something that makes you look professional and gives you self-confidence. If you think you’re dressed inappropriately ask yourself if you could wear the outfit to a school occasion such as a parents’ evening.
  3. Give yourself enough time to get to the interview without rushing. Get up early enough and eat something before the interview. Make sure ahead of time that you know where to go. On the way to the interview listen to your favourite music.
  4. Arrive at the location early but enter the building only 15 minutes ahead of time.
  5. Switch off your phone before they call you for the interview.
  6. Walk into the room, greet everyone with a firm handshake, smile and say, “Thank you for this opportunity.”
  7. If you’re asked about your weak points don’t say, “I work too hard”, “I care too much” or “I’m a perfectionist”. The panel will see through you. Hard work, compassion, and a focus on quality are in any case expected of all teachers.
  8. Even if you can answer a question with one word, don’t do so. Motivate your answer with an example if you can. But don’t ramble on endlessly. Be concise.
  9. Everyone wants a job but why do you want that specific job? Do your homework on what makes the school unique. (Visit its website.)
  10. When the panel gives you the opportunity to ask questions you must ask something. But don’t ask a string of questions. This isn’t the place to ask about salary, working hours or the school’s backing for your further studies. Rather ask “procedural questions”, such as what the school’s approach is to children with learning disabilities or possible mentorship programmes.
  11. If you don’t get the post you must still behave professionally. Headmasters often talk to each other and will recommend outstanding candidates they couldn’t appoint to other headmasters.
  12. If you must present a lesson as part of the interview you can find tips in this article:
  13. guardian.co.uk/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2013/apr/16/interview-tips-teachers-avoid-common-mistakes

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