Top tips for preparing for your headship interview

Oct. 10, 2016
Misia Kay

Misia Barclay

Principal, University Academy Warrington

Interviews are always a daunting process no matter how many you take part in. No two interview processes are the same, but hopefully these tips should help you to be as prepared as you can be.

Do your research

Before applying for any job, I have always made a point of doing some detailed research. School websites are great for giving information, but social media sites and local papers are often a good source of any hot topics that the school may be facing. These are often useful to build into your presentations as they show that you have a true sense of the school and where it sits in the community.

"I’m also a huge believer in your gut instinct when visiting a school. I always try and get a sense of if it feels right or not."

Trust your gut

There is a great divide in opinion regarding whether to visit the school prior to application. There is one school of thought that believes you should definitely go, another with the opposite argument. In general, if the school invites you to visit then you should. I’m also a huge believer in your gut instinct when visiting a school. I always try and get a sense of if it feels right or not. If for any reason it doesn’t, you need to ask yourself if it is the right school for you. As a member of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) you will be spending a considerable amount of time in the building and if you aren’t happy then this will have a huge impact on you!

Don’t apply for everything

It’s always tempting to apply for many jobs ‘just in case’. Applying for any job is a time consuming and emotionally draining experience. It’s better to spend the time preparing and applying properly for a select few. You also have to think about what would happen if you were invited to interview for them all, could you devote the time needed?

Another pair of eyes

Always get someone else to proof read your letter and application form. It goes without saying that we don’t always see mistakes when you have redrafted something so many times.

Be authentic

When looking at job descriptions be honest about what your strengths and areas of development are. It’s important that you pick a role where you will be able to flourish, but also develop your skill base. It’s not a bad thing to be able to talk about what skills you wish to develop in your interview. Panels appreciate honesty, and coming across as reflective and someone who wants to develop is always seen as a positive.

Don’t take it personally

At this stage, not getting a job is not an indication that you are ‘not good enough’ to do it. It’s very much about getting a good match and adding to the skill base within SLT, but it’s really hard not to take it personally. Take what you can from the process, always get the feedback and use it to hone your technique in the next interview.
You can never predict the outcome of a process, but one thing is clear: being truthful, professional and prepared always gives you the edge. Good luck!


This article originally appeared on the website of the Ambition School Leadership. In March 2019 the Institute for Teaching merged with Ambition School Leadership to form Ambition Institute.

Search blog posts by topic: