How to sell your school at teacher interviews

Given the ongoing teacher recruitment crisis, and the vital role that good teachers play in school success, it’s really important that schools examine every aspect of their recruitment processes to make sure the best person for the job chooses you. Here are 9 ideas to try out.

BEFORE THE INTERVIEW DAY

 1. Be flexible about when you interview (and say so in ads)

Don’t just post one interview date on your ads and assume that the best people can make this. Remember the best candidates may be busy. Don’t worry if this means not everyone is interviewed on the same day.

2. Make your first contact count

First impressions really do matter, so make an effort. The best approach would be to start with a phone conversation from a senior teacher to thank them for the application, to offer an informal visit, or to ask them their best time for interview. If this is followed up with a personal email it becomes increasingly difficult for them to pull out of the process.

3. Keep requirements to a minimum

Good teachers don’t have time to spare… even for their dream job. They’ll expect to have to teach but if they’re asked to prepare multiple lessons or long presentations, they may decide not to bother coming. It’s a lot better to ask them to teach something they’ve covered recently and/or set a short self-contained task on the day.

ON THE INTERVIEW DAY

4. Make sure your school is ready to sell itself

The first view of a school and contact with a member of staff can reveal a lot about you. Make sure that reception staff know interviews are taking place, and applicants aren’t kept waiting, and that any areas where applicants will wait are well presented and ideally contain material that will reinforce why your school is a great place to work.

5. Show off the great things your school does for teachers not students

It can be easy to focus on OFSTED grades or academic results when talking about your school. But these aren’t necessarily going to persuade someone to join. Instead, make sure you talk about the great things that your school offers to staff – training, flexible working, development opportunities – and that applicants get to meet people like themselves, not just senior staff.

6. Make the day personal

Try to tailor what happens on the day to meet the interests of the applicant. If they have an interest in pastoral leadership, special needs, or teaching sport, let them see these parts of the school and meet key people in these areas. If they are new to teaching, let them spend time with the people in charge of their in-school training who can best explain how they will be helped. ​

IN THE INTERVIEW

7. Don’t make it look like you want a superhero

Some applicants are happy to take part in extensive extra-curricular activities, take on research projects and have extensive experience managing and influencing others. But others may see questions beyond the actual teaching role as a sign that the school wants more than they can give. Similarly, be careful not to imply that a new teacher will be left alone to fend for themselves.

8. Be prepared to negotiate

One of the most common questions asked in school interviews is ‘would you accept the job if we offered it now?’. While it will save time if you have dozens of good candidates it can also put people off – and if you get the reply ‘no’ from your sole interviewee, you’re in a difficult place. A much better version is ‘how do you feel about this job now you’ve spent time with us?’. This allows candidates to explain their concerns and for you to make changes to your offer.

9. Ask for feedback

Either at the end of the interview, or shortly afterwards, make sure you get feedback from all applicants (successful or not) so you can make improvements for next time.

About the author

Simon HepburnSimon Hepburn spent 10 years working in marketing in industry and consultancy. This included managing a £1.5m advertising budget for Reed, advising Vodafone on improving its image as an employer, and developing a new practice in one of the UK's leading reputation management consultancies. He then retrained as a teacher at the Institute of Education, London and spent 12 years working as a teacher and Head of Department in state and private schools. He now combines part-time teaching with running Marketing Advice for Schools, a network of over 1250 school marketers, and training and consulting with schools. He is the author of two books on school marketing and is writing a third on recruitment marketing for schools.

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