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Interview season already?

1st February 2021

In many countries around the world, particularly those in certain latitudes, seasons don’t really exist at all. In education, the interview season of March, April and May (ahead of the May 31st resignation deadline) were pretty well established: in the last century.

More recently, interview and recruitment ‘seasons’ seem to be an all year round affair. A constant cycle of concern, paperwork, hope and induction. It has been said that a headteacher’s role is never more important than in who they recruit. Recruitment is an art – not a science. You can never really know that you have made a good hire, or indeed whether the role or school you have applied for is right for you, the children or the school. After psychometric testing, interview lessons, panel interviews, application forms, school council briefings, tours, pre-tours and many hours of pleasant (but slightly awkward) conversations amongst the candidates later, a decision is reached. It’s a two-way decision. In every case. Who shall we offer the job to? Shall I take the role if offered?

This year, against a global pandemic backdrop, are things clearer, more difficult or exactly the same?

It is difficult to tell whether zoom interviews, socially distant tours or panels conducted in wide social distant hall will make a difference. The mode of operation may change. Covid testing beforehand, and the mechanics of the process itself, will undoubtedly be different – but has what we are looking for altered too?  Whether candidate or headteacher – has so much changed?

Hands2Connection with children. Connection with colleagues. Teaching is a relationships profession. It is an adaptable profession. These current circumstances have seen this truth laid bare. We must build relationships and connect with children to enhance the learning. Recent online tools we are forced to use have stretched our adaptably, but we have got there. Ever exploring new methods of connection – moulding the 2D world into 3D connection as far as possible. Jam boards, visualisers, breakout rooms, graphic tablets, and any plethora of software packages are at the centre of our world. But we are all striving for one thing: connection. We are not discussing WIFI strength here. Human beings require connection and interaction to form our most basic need – and this truth is also found in learning.

We are not oversimplifying our profession. Decades of professional learning, curriculum expertise, cognitive science, and examination technique are all equally vital in our profession. Indeed, these are all assessed through the interview process.

However, when all is said and done, once these requirements are met, when we seek to separate those who get the job offer from those who don’t, when we consider whether to accept the role or politely decline, our minds focus on one thing - connection. This is the glue that holds us together in these difficult times and binds the unseen hours of hard graft, lesson preparation and assessment.

Our profession and our children demand it.  Invest in those who connect with us … and go from there.

Jack Mayhew, Executive Headteacher  Athena Schools Trust

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