The 5 Minute Interview Plan

Reading time: 4
Application Form


In 2010, Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit from a simple Twitter account through which he rapidly became the 'most followed teacher on social media in the UK'. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday...
Read more about @TeacherToolkit

How can a teacher prepare for their next job interview?

It’s that time of the year when teachers start to consider their next move – this may be another job in the same school, a promotion elsewhere or relocating. Whatever the job, The 5 Minute Interview Plan will allow teachers to focus on key aspects of job-hunting process and support the application completion within a school context.


Research from eTeach suggests that most teachers give up completing job applications because the form created by the school is laborious or too difficult to complete online. With more and more teachers born in the millennial era, schools now have to start considering online application forms that can be easily completed on a digital or mobile device. To support this process, I have created a planning sheet to help teachers consider what to think about when applying for a job in teaching. I have explained what each stage of the plan requires to help shape thinking.

The Plan

You can download The 5 Minute Interview Plan in the footer and find 30 other templates here.

The 5 Minute Interview Plan

Job advert: The Key Facts

Read the advert carefully. Who is the main point of contact? What is the deadline date and time? Make sure you can get your application posted/emailed before this date and receive a reply by email or phone to confirm the application is received. It’s the tiny details that matter – be on time and personalise your application.

Person Specification

Its quite simple. If you do NOT address (or meet) all the selection criteria on this document. You will NOT be shortlisted; or be a front-runner. Any desirable criteria is worth considering, but don’t get too upset if you don’t meet any of this – you can share your personal skills at interview to help stand out from the crowd.

What can I give to the school?

Think about the qualities you will bring to the staff you are joining? The school ethos? The students and the community? What will you add to what they already have? How will you do this and show it on the day? You really need to research the school thoroughly – perhaps look through a few social media accounts for a few weeks beforehand.

Key Publications?

Take a look at Department for Education websites and publications about the school. Read their Ofsted reports and scour the school website. Choose 2 or 3 sentences that are applicable to the role being advertised and design this around your values and the school’s vision. You can save the rest of the content for the day; tour and discussions around the table.

What data do I need to research?
  • School websites
  • Newsletters
  • Ofsted reports
  • DfE published data
  • Twitter and YouTube accounts – connect with current employees
  • Newspaper articles
  • Directions to the school
  • Job-advert history
  • Do you know anyone who knows anything about the school?
  • Investors in People
  • Links to research and journals in the press.
The top 5 priorities in my ‘Supporting Statement’ are…

List what you need to do to say you are the candidate they are looking for! What will you bring to the job? What would be your first priority within the first term? Second term? It is so important for your written application to be articulate, grammar free and your passion for teaching to come across on paper. For goodness sake, don’t copy and paste paragraphs from application to application.

The day before…

Iron your clothes; set 2 alarms clocks; leave early and matter what, do not be late or your chances are over! Plan to have a good breakfast; have a backup travel plan. How will you get there? What will you be taking with you? Do you have a portfolio you can carry? USB?

Why should I work here?

Think carefully about this! Why this school? Is must be more than a promotion/pay-rise/close to home! Make sure you have an answer prepared …

What do I need to find out?

Where is the school? What are the catchment demographics? Local reputation? Talk to shopkeepers and even observe the students on the street to and from the school.

What questions will I ask?

Always make sure you ask a question during the tour. Listen carefully and use this information with the panel to inform your questions and answers. They may even ask you to repeat the name of the receptionist you first met when you arrived (to test your listening skills). This happened to me in a senior leadership position, so be 100% alert at all times – you will never know who is watching or listening.

Who will spell check my application?

Choose an English teacher and give them plenty of notice. If not, seek a colleague or a friend out of school and double-check before submitting.

Who are my referees?

Please make sure you include your current Headteacher! Do they know? Have you recorded their details correctly? There is nothing worse as a deputy headteacher or a headteacher not being informed by a colleague. It’s simply good manners and often leads to support throughout the process. It is always suspicious when a colleague doesn’t know they have been asked to be a referee and trust me, shortlisting on the other end of the application process offers many clues as to what is going on in the applicant’s world.

The interview process can be rewarding, exhausting and demotivating when you don’t get the job. So, choose the school carefully and make sure it is something you definitely want to do. Good luck!


Download The 5 Minute Interview Plan by @TeacherToolkit (2018). This is an adaptation of the original 5 Minute Lesson Plan which has been downloaded all over the world!

6 thoughts on “The 5 Minute Interview Plan

  1. Love the interview plan. One thing I always advise people to do is consider 3 things they have had done that have had impact either in the clasroom or wider whole school reach.

    Ie. What was the issue, how did you devise suggested solutions ie involve others, how did you get buy in, how did you roll out, WHAT WAS THE IMPACT, how did you evaluate, how have you tweaked? Gives candidates real things to talk about rather than theory. Just a suggestion. Keep up the awesome work Ross

  2. I can pretty much guarantee that if you do even half of this stuff to prepare for your interview, you’re going to get the job. I’m pretty sure most teachers who apply at my school just wing it… haha.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.