Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

The ideal candidate

I have been a deputy head for six years and am ready to make the step up to headship. I have applied for several places and have had three interviews but no job offer and am starting to get discouraged. Should I be worried? Are there any tips you can give me?

The good news is that you are getting interviews! But then what happens?

Selection days demand energy and enthusiasm. Everything counts. Be on time, introduce yourself; remember you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Always be open, honest and warm; use time, as well as humour, well.

In interviews and other selection activities remember the audience and react accordingly. Governors make the appointment, but are often advised by LA officers, consultants and the senior team, usually staff and student opinion too. Succinct, well-thought out answers in interviews where you show you understand the school are centrally important. Beware of saying "In my school..."

Act as a headteacher: governors are identifying a potential head not a successful deputy.

Avoid underestimating the governors, becoming the Spanish Inquisition with the senior team (they may be your future colleagues), or patronising students, whose judgments are always razor sharp. Building relationships is as important as professional competence.

Beyond the formal programme, seek information and speak widely, with headteacher's PA, caretaker, teachers, classroom assistants - and students. Your interest will be noted.

The process is a mix of objectivity and subjectivity. See each experience as valuable personal development.

And your references... are they totally supportive?

Above all, keep applying!

Richard Fawcett is a former headteacher and ASCL consultant.

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