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Interview Guide: First Impressions

Interviews and Observations
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  • dress code
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Personal presentation is crucial. The tips below are common sense – but you’d be surprised how many people fall down on one or more of these.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.


A school may invite you to a trial day, interview lesson or just an interview meeting, so they can meet you and see how you use your skills and qualities to interact and engage with children in their learning environment. A day like this can be a great opportunity for you to display your love for children’s teaching and learning and learn a little more about the school itself.
Use the information below to help make a great first impression!

Some dos…

✓ Be punctual and unflustered
✓ Make a strong first impression – smile, firm handshake, confident body language
✓ Dress smartly, appropriate to the occasion and organisation, but be comfortable
✓ Maintain eye contact with the interviewer(s)
✓ Listen carefully. Ask for clarification if unsure of the question – this is not a sign of weakness, but conveys confidence and assertiveness
✓ Speak slowly (but not too slowly!) and clearly
✓ Be interested and enthusiastic
✓ Answer questions fully, illustrating them with real examples and explaining your personal contribution (talk about what ‘I’ did, not what ‘we’ did)
✓ Be specific and succinct – don’t waffle
✓ Watch the interviewer’s body language to gauge whether you are talking too much
✓ Maintain a positive attitude – even when describing the difficulties you have encountered. Explain what you have learned from dealing with problems
✓ Be yourself – the interviewer is assessing your persona as well as your answers
✓ Take a list of your own questions. Use them to show your genuine interest in the job and the research you have done into the organisation
✓ When the interview is over, leave positively and thank the interviewer(s)

…and a few don’ts

  • Don’t lie or exaggerate
  • Lose your temper
  • Criticise your previous employer
  • Fidget or slouch
  • Swear
  • Interrupt

Dress code

  • Men should wear smart shoes, dress trousers, a business shirt and a tie, with a blazer (optional).
  • Women should wear smart, professional attire with covered shoulders.
  • If you are covering PE, please ensure you take a PE kit with you in addition to your regular clothes.
  • SEN schools – Please check with your Prospero Consultant prior to your booking.
  • Faith schools – Faith Schools often have their own dress code – please check with your Prospero Consultant prior to your booking.

Do not wear:

  • Jeans (of any colour)
  • Shorts
  • Trainers
  • Low cut tops or ones that show your stomach/shoulders
  • Sandals / flip flops
  • Hats / caps
  • Anything with large slogans or logos

Before you arrive at the school

When you are invited to a day like this, it is a good idea to have a look at the school’s most recent Ofsted report on their website so that you can get a feel for the school, their ethos and read about recent or upcoming events.
The structure of a day like this can vary from school to school. Most often your day will be segmented into some or all of the following areas: ‘Observed Lesson’, ‘Tour of the School’ and ‘Interview’. The order in which these happen can also vary from school to school.

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