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News from Head of Secondary, Izabella Słoczyńska

21 November 2014

In the past couple of weeks, some of our Year 13 students have received invitations for interviews at top Universities in the UK. This is a great honour for them, as many applicants apply, but are not invited for interview. For most of our students, this is the first formal interview process they are involved in, and although they are excited, they are also nervous about what exactly to expect. Several of our teachers have been kind enough to volunteer to participate in practice interviews which test the knowledge and thinking skills of our students. This process helps students to think aloud and articulate responses in a setting which is unfamiliar. As we go through our lives, most of us have to present ourselves at interviews and gaining the skills and confidence to present ourselves in the best possible way in a short time is something which many people learn through experience. It is helpful to talk to your son/daughter about interviews you have experienced in the past, and how you have learned to communicate everything you wanted the interviewer to know. If you are now in the position of interviewing others, please talk to your child about what you look for when you meet an applicant for the first time. I have asked some of our staff about their interview experiences, and what they have remembered and learned.

Mr Snape: My first ever interview for a teaching job was conducted by someone who produced photographs of me when I was about 6 years old. It turned out he had run the scout group when I was a child. I got the job!

Ms Richardson: When I was 14 I went for an interview to work in a Pizza Parlour. The lady did not ask me any questions, but told me to scrub the floor. It turned out that this was the interview. When I had finished, she told me I got the job.

Mr Blanchard: When I was 22 years old I travelled to London for an interview for the JETS programme. I was applying to teach English in Japan. I spent a week researching everything about  the UK, as I knew they would test my knowledge. I regret that I had absolutely no practice at interview questions or technique. I could have even asked my friends to question me as preparation. I did get the job.

Ms Szyperska: I applied for a job as an office manager with no office experience at all. I was really honest at the interview and explained that I was very motivated to work for this particular employer. The employer asked what I thought my weaknesses were and, again, I was very honest and told them the truth. I got the job and they also provided training, so that those weaknesses have since turned in to strengths.

Ms Hall: When I went to my very first interview, it was in a lovely part of England in Surrey. I was unprepared as I didn’t really know what to expect. I was asked why I wanted to work at this particular school, and I replied that the countryside and surroundings were very beautiful-not the right answer! A little later in my career, I was advised by an expert who coached people on success at interviews. I learned to prepare and plan questions. I was told to prepare 6 cards and put a heading on each them of subjects I thought would be asked about at the interview. I then had to write 3 key points on each card. Reading over the cards before the interview helped with confidence as well as with answers to questions at interviews. I still follow this advice today.

MS Wadas: Mr Motrenko interviewed me for a post at this school many years ago. He asked me a lot of questions about my life outside school-something I was not expecting at an interview. He was really charming and made me feel very positive about working here.

Mr Grundy: Interviews in international settings often involve technology, such as skype. At one particular interview the technology kept letting me down, as I was in an area of the UK where there are very bad connections. I had to try three separate devices to make sure that I could be connected properly. This was added stress, and I much prefer face to face interviews where I can see the person I am talking to properly.

Mr Jones: I once applied for a job with a company producing animated Shakespeare films. I did not research the job properly, because the interview was for a completely different job from the one I believed it to be. I learned that you need to research thoroughly and know exactly what you are applying for before attending any interviews.

Wishing all of our applicants a positive outcome from their forthcoming interviews.


Dates to remember this week:

 Wednesday 26 November : University presentation evening for Year 12 and parents.


Izabella Sloczynska

Head of Secondary School