3 tips on how to improve your performance in mock interviews for teaching jobs in Ireland

“I hate talking about myself”, “I was so nervous on the day of the interview that I drove to the wrong school”, “I waffle on and on, I don’t know when I should stop answering the question”. These are common statements I hear from clients preparing for interviews. Whether it’s an Irish thing or not, many people dislike speaking about themselves in a positive light. This is what we have to do in interviews and it can cause quite a problem for many teachers. So, what can you do to improve your performance in mock interviews and also in interviews for teaching jobs in Ireland? 

Here are my top 3 tips: 

1. Familiarise yourself with the STAR technique

The STAR technique is a fantastic way to frame your interview answers so that it shows your teaching experience, by giving the interviewers evidence of your effectiveness. It keeps your answers short and it stops you waffling! S = Situation, T = Task, A = Action and R = Result. 

Why is outlining an answer in this way particularly effective? 

A. Authenticity: it is conceivable that in the past (as a 20/30/40 year old person) that you may have had the experience in question in your life to date and this shows experience and understanding. 

B. Storytelling: people love stories and are interested to find out how the story ended.

C. Reading between the lines: As an interviewer, I’m able to learn from the example given by the candidate, that they have (or have not) the qualities and experience I’m looking for.

Read up on 4 results you may refer to in the STAR technique here.

2. Practice the words you say, your body language and the tone of your voice

This is a key way to develop your interview skills. The 55/38/7 theory was developed by Professor Mehrabian who believes that there are three core elements in the effective face-to-face communication of emotions or attitudes: 1. Nonverbal behaviour (facial expressions and use of body gestures), 2. The tone of voice, and 3. The literal meaning of the spoken word.

The 55/38/7 rule it helps us draw awareness to the fact that much of what we say through emotion is communicated (not through what we say) but through non-verbal communication. The rule states that: 

  • 55% of information is communicated through body language

  • 38% of information is communicated through tone of voice  

  • 7 % of information is communicated through the spoken word. 

So what does that mean for interviews? It means that while practising your interview answers, it is very important to observe your body language and what the tone of your voice is saying too. Getting feedback on this (either your own observations through mirror work or dictating your answers into your phone or by taking part in mock interviews) is very important. This is partly why investing in mock interviews is so effective for improving interview skills. 

3. Be aware of your thoughts

Have you ever reflected on the kinds of things that you say to yourself about interviews? I observe that many teachers say things like “I get interviews, but I never get offered the job; what’s wrong with me?”, “I cringe when I have to say anything nice about myself”, “Nobody tells me I’m doing a good job so I must not be doing a great one”, “There’s nothing special about me as a teacher”.

Continuing to believe and repeat these thoughts, will do you no favours for upcoming interviews, so I invite you to write down all of your negative thoughts about interviews – write a list of things that you have said to yourself in the past about your performance at interviews and your effectiveness as a teacher, and flip these thoughts NOW!

Next, record the times you were effective in life, that you were praised and felt proud of what you had achieved, felt proud of the difference you made in the life of a pupil, received messages of thanks from parents and colleagues. Let this be your self-talk now. Improving your self-esteem and self-confidence is important to perform better in interviews.

So, those are my top tips to improve your mock interviews skills. Preparing for interviews really can be improved by building your confidence and taking into account all aspects of verbal and non-verbal communication.

If you would like to work with me to do some mock interviews, improve your interview skills, and get closer to your dream teaching job, email me at hello@orladempseycoaching.ie or click here for more information.

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