[REFLECTIONS] How to approach your first unsuccessful interview

So on Monday morning I had my first interview for a permanent position at a school in Sydney’s outer Western Suburbs and unfortunately, was not successful. A great learning experience and hopefully better luck (and preparation) next time! I arrived a little early and sat in the waiting room for what seemed like an eternity. A few minutes later, a lady came to collect me and directed me into a small office with a sheet of questions with space to jot down some points for ten minutes and a plastic cup of lukewarm water to sip on. Ten minutes later, the Deputy Principal came in and directed me into another office with three other members of the interview panel which included a Teacher (AP), Teacher’s Federation and Parent Representative. Pretty nerve racking to be sitting across from four people – each looking at you intently, taking their turn to ask you questions and each making notes judging your each and every word.

After the interview, I immediately knew where I went wrong when I looked at the clock and it had only been 20 minutes – short interviews are generally not a good sign from my experience.

Reflecting on my responses afterwards, I feel that I didn’t give enough detail with my answers and didn’t completely address all parts of each question. For example, in one of the questions about organisational skills, I only stated my high level of organisational skills through keeping a day book and planning to keep on top of everything but didn’t really give detail and discuss or link it to how that would help with whole school and extra curricular activities. I had specific examples, but failed to link it back to what it would look like if I were to implement it in a classroom at the school I was interviewing for. Will have to call back next week for some formal feedback from the panel but, overall, lots to improve on and think about for the next one that comes along!

Here’s my approach to learning from an unsuccessful interview:

1. Take it as a learning experience and just give it a go – getting to the interview stage is already quite a feat considering the job market for primary teachers at the moment. At least I was in it to win it.

2. Take any feedback and improve for next time. My learnings from this one – read the questions carefully and answer all components of the questions in greater detail. Take all opportunities to add more detail about how you’re the right person for the job – make the most of the “Do you have anything else to add?” question. It appears this question wasn’t asking whether I had any questions to ask of the interviewers as they weren’t able to answer any of the questions I had about the school and its priorities in that interview setting.

3. Call back for formal feedback – tip from my Supervising Teacher.

4. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Yeah you’ll probably feel pretty down immediately after getting the call (I did), but there’s always next time and you gave it a go rather than just waiting for opportunities to pass your way (just reassuring myself here!).

5. Talk to others about how it went. This is probably the best thing to do for that reassurance that you’ve got a huge support network out there. Even if it’s just writing everything up into a blog post to share with those who happen to randomly stumble upon your post.

I’m sure heaps of other PSTs are going through or will go through this some time in the near future so you’re not alone!



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