An Internal Stitch-Up

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Interview Line Up

A Teacher

I'm a teacher and sometimes I'm a combination of more than one voice. I'm sharing the things that are going on in our schools - things that need to be talked about and brought to your attention via anonymity - meaning I'm safe from attribution...
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What happens when teachers are faced with an ‘internal applicant’ during an interview process? 

Our anonymous teacher shares his experience of attending a job interview.

As I arrived, I quickly discovered there was only one other person up for the role. After noticing a lot of staff speaking to this other person, the penny-dropped that the teacher already worked in the school, in a part-time position. Obviously, thoughts started to set in, and sooner rather than later, I thought that this was now a pointless exercise for me. Either way, valuable experience for the interview process I thought and carried on.

My interview was a two-part affair, where I delivered a presentation to two leading members of the sports department. I focused on ‘what is outstanding, teaching and learning within an elite college’ as they wished. My presentation went well, using handouts as well as areas from various well-known teaching books. The immediate feedback was promising, with me engaging well with the team and leaving the room full of confidence.


The next half of the interview was with the vice principal and another member of the pastoral team.

This began well when speaking to the pastoral member on issues such as safeguarding, accomplishments and ideas, but as I glanced over to make eye-contact with the senior teacher on the panel, he was checking and engaging in his phone. This happened at least twice – which hurt if I am honest – and upon reflection, use of a mobile device for purposes that are not relevant was a bit of a slap in the face.

There was no reason given for the use of his device. Legitimate reasons, such as recording the interview or dealing with an emergency did not come to fruition. When the interview questions arrived, the vice principal asked me (which in my opinion was pointless) ‘what GCSE’s did you receive?’

As a 30 year-old man with 14 years coaching and teaching experience, GCSE’s are something of a distant memory – many aspects of education have changed since my 2003! His questions had no, or little relevance to the position, or to me, and he didn’t engage with me on any level whatsoever, which I found demoralising.

Since this interview I have had no feedback whatsoever from the school. I am 100% certain that the position was offered internally. However, I will be continuing my search, looking for a school which puts its best-foot-forward; giving me an insight into the establishment and the values which permeate within it.

This blog was written anonymously by a member of the teaching profession. Have you experienced anything similar? Have you got anything you want to reveal? Get in touch.

4 thoughts on “An Internal Stitch-Up

  1. I share your pain with this experience! Internal candidates are very off-putting and I have been on both sides of this. As a PGCE student I had an interview where there was an internal candidate who was approached numerous times by other members of staff and was told “We all love you and the kids love you too” on more than one occasion. During a written task in the staff workroom she was again approached by members of staff asking what she had to do – it even looked like she was given help. It was at this point I decided to go and see the Head and withdraw from the interview. I had no idea how I was doing as a candidate but the experience made me not want to work at the school!

  2. This does sound unacceptable and, not wanting to stand up for the head (certainly in this case!) internal candidates can be a blessing and a curse. As a leader we know their strengths and areas to develop, and as most teachers are reflective they will know that we know the latter more than anything. Having interviewed a number of internals, some who have been offered the post and some who haven’t, the process really must start from the moment the job is announced. Clear boundaries and an effort by all on the panel to be fair to everyone. What I certainly will take from the above is stressing to staff how their words of encouragement to a friend/colleague can impact on others. I remember being up against an internal applicant once and my head dropping during the process only to find neither of us were offered the position! Good luck in future applications.

  3. Move on. Their loss quite frankly, and you would have been unhappy working with people who were unprofessional in your interview. There are lots of great schools where staff are treated with respect and professional regard. Keep looking and put it down to experience.

  4. I once went for an interview where four of us went through the whole process up to the final interview, where they suddenly wheeled in another teacher. We
    We’re told that she had been a pgce student there and couldn’t be part of the rest of the interview day as she was being observed at another school. However they knew her as she’d been at this school for her previous placement and as such they didn’t need the preliminary part! I immediately told them to do one as the process was transparently rigged, and was told never to apply for a job at that school again! Surprisingly enough I really didn’t want to!

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