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Have you ever had a really bad interview?

(36 Posts)
LaserShark Thu 13-Dec-18 22:21:31

Did it knock your confidence? I’ve been teaching for over ten years and for the past couple have been consistently rated as outstanding in all my observations in two different schools by different observers and I’ve had outstanding exam results. I still feel that sense of imposter syndrome all the time and frequently wonder if I’m good enough.

A few days ago I had an interview and got sent home after I taught the lesson. As the lesson was first on the itinerary, that meant I was walking back down the school drive less than two hours after I’d arrived, feeling completely humiliated.

I am not devastated about not getting the job. If I’d done the whole day and lost out to another candidate I’d be better able to shrug it off. I liked the school but wasn’t desperate for the job.

However, I didn’t get a chance to say anything, to talk to anyone - literally taught the lesson, got told I pitched it wrongly (too high for the ability of the students) and that they wouldn’t be proceeding with the interview. One other candidate got sent home as well, leaving just one there.

I’m mortified because I didn’t realise the lesson was so bad. I knew it was pitched too high once I was in there and did my best to adapt, but the kids produced some ok work and answered my questions and I felt like it was ok - not my best, but I didn’t at any point think it was so awful they wouldn’t even bother to interview me afterwards.

So, now I keep thinking maybe my lessons really are crap and I’m not seeing it. When I’m in front of a class now, I keep faltering, my stomach curling in on itself with humiliation.

I can see why it makes sense if they know they aren’t going to hire someone not to waste the time carrying on, but I feel like it happened so quickly that it blindsided me. I only briefly met the Head and HoD, my lesson was observed by the class teacher and then I was gone.

I would really like to be able to push it out of my head, but it’s really got to me. Has anyone else experienced this?

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SuperPug Fri 14-Dec-18 00:33:14

I think that's awful.
We may have been interviewed at the same school. Years ago, I went for an interview at a school (didn't get the job) and other candidates just kept disappearing throughout the day. It was bizarre. I know the person who got it and that kind of behaviour was a good indication as to how they treat their staff.
I think it may have been a lucky escape.

Mrskeats Fri 14-Dec-18 00:37:13

How could they penalise you if you didn’t know the kids though in the sense of their abilities? They are an unknown really so that seems ridiculous to me.

LaserShark Fri 14-Dec-18 06:05:54

Thanks for the replies. I agree about the lucky escape, if they have have such a brutally efficient approach to everything, it most likely isn’t the school for me!

I had the class data beforehand so I should have pitched it right. I got that wrong and that’s my fault.

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Tanaqui Fri 14-Dec-18 06:09:04

I expect the person they kept was known to them in some way, so they just wanted rid of the rest of you. Awful way to do it. And pitched too high better than too low!

LaserShark Fri 14-Dec-18 06:09:28

I think what made it trickier was that the lesson was to teach descriptive writing for the exam after the class have had a term studying it, so whilst I had the data I assumed they would have covered a lot of skills during this term so I didn’t want to repeat something they’d already done. But I had no way of knowing what they had actually covered in that term so it was hard to pitch. In my most recent interview, I was asked to teach an unseen poem so I found that easier as I knew it was fresh material for the class.

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SleepySofa Fri 14-Dec-18 06:11:15

Is there any chance the candidate they kept was on a promise, so to speak? Maybe they knew who they wanted but still had to advertise, then picked a fairly spurious reason to send home both the outside candidates (you and the other one who was asked to leave) as early as they could so they didn't waste any more of your time?

LaserShark Fri 14-Dec-18 06:12:31

I mean, my most recent interview prior to the one I’ve just had! The interview for the job I’ve got now was unseen poetry, the failed job interview was the descriptive writing.

I also thought pitching too high is better than too low, but I should have had a better contingency plan. Even the differentiated frame is brought with me was too tricky for the weakest pupils in the class.

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LaserShark Fri 14-Dec-18 06:13:54

Sleepy, actually the other candidate they sent home was known to them! The one they kept wasn’t, I don’t think, but she was recently qualified so I guess about twelve grand less expensive than me! But if they didn’t want someone on UPS, why interview me at all?

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Urbanbeetler Fri 14-Dec-18 06:15:06

Please don’t let this eat into your confidence. There was almost certainly a reason why they wanted a different candidate - who knows what but you CANNOT take them to heart.

We interviewed some years ago and ended up having to take someone who we thought had pitched it wrongly in the classroom. He wasn’t our first or second choice. But my gosh we landed on outlet feet - he was a stunning teacher. We just hadn’t seen it in that particular snippet of his teaching.

This really is their loss. And hopefully a better school’s gain at some point in the near future.

MidiMitch Fri 14-Dec-18 06:16:14

I genuinely think that some schools' interview processes are outrageous. I am a Dep Head so used to-interviewing people. I go out of my way to make it a positive experience. I want people to perform to their best so I get the best person. What's the point in trying to catch people out. People who can shine for a moment under extreme pressure are likely to be one trick ponies who aren't able to sustain that day in day out. You had a lucky escape.

Urbanbeetler Fri 14-Dec-18 06:17:32

Sorry - outlet is our and of course there was a reason - I meant a reason outside teaching itself. And I think you identified the reason in the post I crossed with - money.

Urbanbeetler Fri 14-Dec-18 06:18:52

Midimitch Completely agree.

LaserShark Fri 14-Dec-18 06:22:24

Thanks so much, I feel so much better. I found the experience so humiliating that I haven’t told anyone the truth of it - I’ve pretended I got the full interview and then was turned out so I haven’t been able to get my feelings about it out and this has made me feel so much lighter.

It’s that terrible nagging feeling that I e somehow scraped my way through the past eleven years and managed to hoodwink others into thinking I’m outstanding but now I’ve been exposed that has really got to me. I know that just last week I had an excellent observation so this experience a week later shouldn’t throw me quite as badly as it has done, but for some reason it really has!

OP’s posts: |
VashtaNerada Fri 14-Dec-18 06:23:12

That is ridiculous. They should have interviewed all candidates. Even the best teachers have the odd lesson that goes wrong (especially with a class you don’t know!!) but an interview will reveal what you were thinking and what you would have done in the next lesson in a real life scenario. Idiots.

LaserShark Fri 14-Dec-18 06:37:13

I honestly can’t express how much all these kind, rational responses mean to me!

My current school really seem to value me so I hope going on an interview hasn’t damaged that.

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parrotonmyshoulder Fri 14-Dec-18 06:38:36

Try not to take it to heart. They may well have had a hidden agenda. Teaching interviews are utterly ridiculous at the moment. Headteachers taking valuable time out of school to travel round the country watching people teach in their own classes, inane data tasks, pointless student council ‘interviews’.
Good luck with your job search.

LaserShark Fri 14-Dec-18 09:49:48

I’m putting the job search on hold: I’m new in my current post and was really intrigued by the unusual curriculum at this other school which was why I applied but I’m not looking generally.

Honestly, I have just unknotted this massive tangle of tension I was carrying. Thanks to everyone’s kind comments, I feel miles better and have taught so much better this morning. I thought people would tell me that obviously my teaching wasn’t up to scratch and I should consider something else.

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Teacherlikemisstrunchball Fri 14-Dec-18 20:30:10

OMG I had a terrible interview earlier this year, dreadful. I had 4 different and complex tasks to prepare for the assessment day and it was the last Friday before feb half term. I was exhausted and so nervous and had also had a really awful week leading up to it. I taught an ok lesson and did all the other bits ok I think, but the interview was a car crash. I was so tired my mind went blank. I cringe every single time I drive past that school 🙈😂

BlessYourCottonSocks Fri 14-Dec-18 21:49:12

Please don't dwell on this. I had some awful interview experiences after taking time out for birth of last child in my 40s. I had been consistently graded outstanding and felt confident in my own abilities. Trying to get back into a permanent teaching job was hideous. I did a lot of supply but every job I applied for I got an interview - and then lost out to an NQT (who was obviously massively cheaper than I was).

My very, very worst experience was going to interview in a very challenging school (which I was very used to) and there being 2 of us - myself and a PGCE student who was still training. This was in the Feb for a Sept start. I taught what I considered to be a good lesson with some tough Y9s. She had a Y7 class. I felt I interviewed well - but they offered her the job and then told me that I could console myself with the fact that it had come down to who taught the best lesson.

Honestly - I cried all the way home. To be told after 20 years of teaching that someone who has done maybe 10 weeks or so is a better classroom teacher than you are was shattering. It devastated me, although realistically I knew I was a good teacher (on UPS3) and that it was pretty likely to be money. It took me ages to get over it mentally.

I am now a HoD in a fab school which values me.

greathat Fri 14-Dec-18 22:25:55

I had a similar thing once. Was just sent to the class I was meant to teach. When I got there the regular teacher had no idea and stormed off in a huff when I told them. Leaving me with just the class. They assumed I was a supply teacher so I started trying to teach an interview lesson while kids were taking it as supply. About 20 minutes later someone turned up to observe me, by then I'd confiscated 2 phones and a dodgy magazine from some lads. I still felt utterly shit when I was sent home straight after lesson, I should probably just have been happy for a lucky escape!

LaserShark Fri 14-Dec-18 22:29:44

Thanks! It’s painful to feel you haven’t given the best account of yourself or that you haven’t been given the opportunity to give the best account of yourself. Like you, Bless, I’ve worked so hard for so long to develop my classroom skills and feeling that my lesson was so poor I wasn’t worth talking to afterwards is quite shattering. I guess they don’t know me, only saw a snapshot of me and they can’t define the kind of teacher I am from that. It’s heartening to feel I’m not the only one!

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Stripybeachbag Fri 14-Dec-18 22:43:22

It doesn't surprise me at all that you revealed that the teacher they hired was recently qualified. You were probably asked as a back up in case it went horribly wrong for them.

When I left my job, they interviewed a hod from another school and an NQT. The HOD's lesson and interview was judged very harshly, whereas the NQT was given much more leeway for lack of experience. Guess who got the job? When that NQT left after a couple of years, they were then replaced by an unqualified teacher.

Teaching in the UK is so tough. The emphasis on teaching ability on the classroom is way over the top. It has become a stick with which to beat teachers. Please don't let it cause you so much anxiety. Your results speak for themselves. Also in your day-to-day classes, the kids will let you if you are rubbish.

LaserShark Sat 15-Dec-18 06:23:08

Stripy, I think I definitely was a back up for the RQT. When she didn’t mess up (and I got a really good impression of her so sure she was great), they obviously didn’t need to bother with me at all.

Having got a bit of perspective now, I think it’s a horrendous way to treat candidates and I hope it doesn’t become widespread practice to get candidates in, watch them teach and then cull some of them straight away at an interview. I think it’s needlessly cruel and humiliating at any career stage. It also seems to be harking back to the days of Ofsted showstopper lessons, when the focus now is about progress over time rather than doing a bells-and-whistles extravaganza as a one-off. This interview process seems to reinforce the bells and whistles with absolutely no opportunity for evaluation and reflection and discussion of how as a teacher you would change/adapt and what you would do next.

OP’s posts: |
Coronapop Sat 15-Dec-18 10:39:29

If the school only had one candidate to interview it suggests they knew who they intended to appoint in advance and you might have been competition. A bit of self-doubt is natural after such an experience but I would try not to waste too much time thinking about it, and focus on all the positive feedback you have had in the past.
I do think that what the school did was poor practice, unless they had made clear at an early stage that they would 'sift' after the lesson.

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