At the end of an interview, one last challenge awaits: asking the right questions of your interviewers. We asked experienced teachers and careers experts what they want to hear from candidates
You've made it to the end of your interview, having answered every question your potential employers have thrown your way. Now, comes the really tricky part: "Do you have any questions for us?"
Job interviews are two-way processes. The school is interviewing you to see if you will be a good fit, while you are checking to see if the school is right for you. Asking questions at the end of your interview presents an opportunity to get a better understanding of whether this school is the best place for you to further your career.
But coming up with the right questions to ask can sometimes be the hardest part of the interview. So, where do you start?
There is nothing worse than starting a new job and realising you’ve made a big mistake, so it is important to use the opportunity of a few questions at interview to find out as much as you can about the school, particularly when it comes to things that could be deal-breakers for you.
A spokesperson for the Association of School and College Leaders suggests focusing on issues connected to the school's culture, which might not be immediately obvious.
“You need to make sure that the job is right for you, just as much as the school needs to make sure you are the right person for the job,” says the spokesperson. “So, use the opportunity at the end of the interview to ask questions which will help you to understand more about the culture and ethos of the school.”
Questions the ASCL recommend include: “What are the school's objectives and plans over the next few years?" and "What is the school's vision?”
Asking questions at the end of the interview gives you the chance to show you're interested in not just this specific job, but also about developing yourself further. Use this opportunity to find out what CPD the school offers, or if there are education-related masters that the school will support.
“I would advise people to have a few questions,” says Rae Snape, headteacher of The Spinney School in Cambridge. This will demonstrate that you have “have paid attention to the school, the environment and its vision".
In particular, Snape says that it is “really lovely” when candidates ask questions about the interviewers themselves. In her opinion, this shows that the candidate is “interested in you as a potential colleague”.
“You should invite the interview panel to talk about what they are passionate about,” Snape suggests.
The ASCL do have a warning here, though: “Asking thoughtful questions shows that you have a real interest in the school. But don’t overdo it. This section of the interview is a brief exchange, not a lengthy discussion.”
Salary will be one of the most pressing concerns for many people when looking for a new job, and the questions at the end of the interview can often seem like the best opportunity to negotiate pay.
However, education careers expert John Howson advises that this is one question that is better saved for later.
“I think there are some things you want to clarify. The tricky one is how to negotiate salary and I would do that after the interview when you have been offered the job,” he says.
Instead you might want to ask some clarifying questions that relate to salary- for example, if there is a TLR attached to this role, which specific one?