Interview questions to ask candidates - and what their answers mean

Get the most out of an interview by asking the right types of question.

2 mins read
Getty Images 1476654789

6 months ago

When conducting an interview, it's important to ask the right types of questions to get the most out of it. To achieve this, you should plan a mix of different question types that are tailored to the specific qualities required for a particular role. The questions that you ask should provide you with insight into the candidate's strengths, weaknesses, and how well they'll fit into the team. To help you achieve this, here are some of the main types of questions to ask during an interview:

Standard competency questions

These are the most common types of questions to ask during an interview. They usually begin with a phrase like "Can you give me an example of when you...". You can adapt them to suit the skills you'd like the candidate to tell you about, such as delivering excellent customer service, resolving a conflict, or influencing a senior stakeholder. Competency style questions are useful when you want to find out about specific competencies or skills that the candidate possesses and how they've used them to resolve previous situations. Good candidates often plan responses to these questions and should provide clear, well-thought-out examples. In their answers, look for evidence that they can provide a clear situation, the task at hand, the action they personally took, and the positive result of that action using the STAR method.

Follow-up question

Follow-up questions allow you to go beyond the glossy prepared answer and get more details. They also allow the candidate to engage on a higher level and think on the spot, as they might not be as prepared for one of these. Asking good follow-up questions can reveal a lack of detail or personal involvement that may be hidden by a prepared response.

The curveball question

If you want to assess a candidate's ability to react quickly and think critically, give them a challenging question or scenario that may not necessarily be related to the job they are applying for. This can be based on something they've mentioned on their resume or something current that you'd like them to provide some insight on. This will test their ability to make sound decisions under pressure and to communicate their thoughts effectively, which can be crucial for some positions.

The hypothetical situation question

These types of questions can be polarizing - some love them, while others hate them. However, they are an effective tool for quickly testing one's rational thought and logical reasoning abilities. Typically, these questions involve presenting a hypothetical scenario to the candidate and asking them to make a decision based on the information and parameters provided.

The “describe yourself” question

Job interviews often involve questions that require the candidate to describe themselves in a few words or imagine what their previous boss or co-workers would say about them. These questions can take different forms, but they serve the purpose of assessing the candidate's ability to empathize with others and express their point of view concisely. It's a way to test the candidate's communication skills and see how they respond in situations where they need to be succinct.

New call-to-action

You may also be interested in these...

Temporary vs permanent teaching roles: which is best for you?
4 mins read
  1. Article

Temporary vs permanent teaching roles: which is best for you?

​Whether you’re just starting out on your teaching career or considering your options midway through, both temporary and permanent teaching roles have much to offer in terms of personal and professional development. The deciding factor for many is often concerned with the impact an individual hopes to make in their career – whether they see a long future at a particular school or are drawn to the rich experiences that may lie in a series of temporary or supply teaching roles at different schools.  

Temporary teaching roles: flexibility and exploration 

Temporary teaching roles offer educators flexibility and variety in their careers. Whether it be covering maternity leave, sabbaticals, or filling short-term vacancies, these roles provide opportunities to gain diverse experiences across different schools, age groups, and subjects. For those craving new challenges and exposure to various teaching methodologies, temporary teaching, cover teaching or supply teaching positions – just some of terms by which short-term teaching goes by – can be immensely rewarding. 

Temporary (or temp) roles enable teachers to test the waters before committing to a long-term position. They offer a glimpse into different school cultures, leadership styles, and student demographics, allowing educators to discern their preferences and strengths. This exploratory phase can be invaluable for early-career teachers seeking to refine their teaching approach and identify their niche within the education sector. 

It may even be said that everyone should try supply teaching at some point in their teaching career. Such roles can strengthen resilience and help teachers adapt to diverse environments, navigate unexpected challenges, and quickly establish a rapport with students and colleagues. These experiences enrich professional skill sets and cultivate a broader perspective on education. 

However, temp roles come with some uncertainties, such as job insecurity and lack of long-term stability. While it is highly unlikely in the current climate – unless you are inflexible when it comes to your working location – teachers may face periods of unemployment between assignments, necessitating financial planning and resilience to withstand potential gaps in income. The transient nature of temporary roles can impede the establishment of deep-rooted connections within school communities, potentially affecting professional networking and career advancement opportunities, unless working with a reputable teaching recruiter 

Permanent teaching roles: stability and long-term impact 

In contrast, permanent teaching roles offer greater stability and security, providing educators with the assurance of ongoing employment and consistent income. For individuals seeking to establish roots within a school community, build lasting relationships with students and colleagues, and contribute to long-term educational initiatives, permanent positions are conducive to professional growth. 

Permanent (or perm) roles afford teachers the opportunity to make a sustained impact on students’ lives, offering continuity and consistency in their educational journey. By immersing themselves in a specific school culture and curriculum, educators can develop deep connections with students and take on mentorship opportunities and leadership roles that contribute to the school community. 

Permanent roles often provide access to comprehensive benefits packages, including healthcare, pension schemes, and professional development opportunities. These perks enhance job satisfaction and overall wellbeing, helping teachers feel valued and supported. A permanent contract often makes it easier for teachers to access opportunities for career progression and development. 

However, commitment to a permanent teaching role entails a long-term investment in a specific school or institution, therefore factors such as school ethos, leadership vision, and career prospects should be considered before committing to a permanent position. Conversely, such roles may limit opportunities for professional exploration and diversification, potentially stifling creativity and innovation in teaching practices. 

Deciding what's best for you: priorities and nice-to-haves 

Ultimately, the decision between temporary and permanent teaching roles hinges on individual priorities, aspirations, and circumstances. Here’s how to guide your decision-making process: 

Reflect on your career goals:

Take time to assess your long-term career aspirations, values, and priorities. Consider whether you prioritise stability and continuity or crave variety and exploration in your professional journey. 

Evaluate your personal circumstances:

Consider factors such as financial obligations, family commitments, and lifestyle preferences when weighing the pros and cons of supply and permanent roles. Could you cope with long commutes for example, or be ready to move time and again? Determine how each option aligns with your personal circumstances and desired work-life balance.  

Seek mentorship and advice:

Reach out to experienced educators, mentors, and career advisors for guidance and insights. Their perspectives can offer valuable guidance when it comes to the nuances of temporary and permanent teaching roles and help you make an informed decision. 

Flexibility and adaptability:

Remain open to new opportunities and embrace the flexibility inherent in both temporary and permanent roles. Your career journey may evolve over time, and being adaptable to change is essential for growth and fulfilment. 

Choosing between temporary and permanent teaching roles is a deeply personal decision that is best decided by evaluating professional aspirations and personal circumstances. While teachers all have the same goal in educating and inspiring the next generation, the way they achieve this may be through various routes – making a difference to the lives of many in one or more schools. 

Looking for your next teaching role? Get in touch with our specialist education recruiters today for temporary and permanent teaching opportunities.

Inspiring the next generation: the benefits of offering internships
4 mins read
  1. Article

Inspiring the next generation: the benefits of offering internships

​The decision to hire interns is not merely a trend, but a strategic must. The opportunities associated with internships can be used to bridge the gap between academic learning and practical application, while also playing a pivotal role in shaping the careers of aspiring professionals.

Towards the end of 2023, Google searches for ‘internships’ increased by 22% to 6,000 searches per month, while the social media platform, TikTok, saw four million views for the hashtag #internships, as more and more students look for opportunities to increase their work experience.

For businesses, investing in paid internships is a strategic move that goes beyond fulfilling corporate social responsibility. It's an investment in the future workforce, creating a talent pool that may later become full-time employees. According to the 2022 Student Recruitment Survey by the Institute of Student Employers, 82% of respondents reported that they recruit interns – showing that internships shouldn’t just be viewed as a gesture of goodwill, but play a pivotal role in recognizing talent, promoting diversity, and contributing to overall business success.

Managed well, an internship can be a viable recruitment option for an organization. But what are the main reasons why businesses should consider running an internship program?

Talent development

Businesses can use internship programs as a proactive approach to identifying and nurturing professionals for their talent pool. They can create direct connections with emerging talent, providing them with first-hand experience in their respective industries – from engineering and technology to sales and procurement.

With skills shortages affecting a large number of sectors, employers that provide a platform for eager individuals to gain paid experience, help ease the pressures many businesses – and professionals – are facing.

Innovation and fresh perspectives

Interns can inject new and exciting perspectives and ideas into the workplace, which can see campaigns thrive and strategies become more impactful. By recognizing that diversity fuels creativity, seeking interns who bring unique insights and approaches to problem-solving will help to enhance the overall creativity and adaptability of the organization.

Introducing different perspectives into your workplace provides a fresh take on the business as a whole. Even though interns won't be responsible for creating new policies or planning a strategy, their outside opinion may improve existing practices.

For example, as more workplaces undergo digital transformation the need for a workforce that is comfortable with various technologically advanced tools has never been more important. Asking for an intern’s feedback on your digital presence and consumer-facing collateral can pinpoint where potential improvements can be made and where new business or custom can be identified.

Social responsibility and diversity

Businesses are increasingly investing in corporate social responsibility and the benefits that come with having a diverse workforce.

Running an internship program allows companies to contribute to ongoing social initiatives by providing valuable opportunities to individuals who may face barriers to entry into the workforce. Employers who actively seek out interns from various demographics can demonstrate their commitment to fairness, equality, and social responsibility – heightening their appeal to professionals looking for 'good' companies to work for.

It’s important to maintain a community-focused approach, ensuring you ‘give back’ by offering young talent the opportunity to thrive and succeed in an internship – helping enhance their career prospects and your reputation at the same time.

Brand image enhancement

In a world where reputation means everything, any opportunity to be seen as an employer of choice can be vital to a successful talent acquisition strategy. Internship programs play a pivotal role in shaping the perception of a company among potential new employees, as well as customers and other stakeholders.

Businesses that actively engage in internships can showcase their commitment to investing in professional development, graduate opportunities, and career changes – creating a positive brand image. This in turn attracts people seeking meaningful opportunities for growth and career progression.

Helping the next generation

There’s a bigger picture to internship programs. Many individuals, especially recent graduates, may face challenges when embarking on a new career path. Those lucky enough to win internships will reap the benefits that come from the experience, not just in adding to their CV, but in self-confidence gained from developing knowledge of their chosen profession, all while making valuable contacts.

Internships ultimately improve future employability and give a head start to those keen to learn sought-after skills in their field, whether that’s invoice management and purchasing in accountancy, or content strategies and communication plans in marketing.

Having interns can potentially help to identify future leaders among your junior employees. When overseeing an intern’s day-to-day activities, some junior employees may demonstrate exceptional management and leadership traits. Once these skills have been identified, you may consider investing in these employees further and upskilling them for future leadership opportunities.

Businesses that offer internships are not just investing in short-term support but are strategically building a foundation for long-term success. An internship is still one of the best ways for professionals to gain that all-important work experience, highlighting the importance a robust internship program plays in growing and expanding the workforce.

Looking to hire experienced professionals to join your team? Contact one of our specialist consultants today.

Teacher resignation letter template – free download
2 mins read

Teacher resignation letter template – free download

​Resigning from a teaching role can be difficult, regardless of the length of time spent at a school. It can be something of an emotional rollercoaster, with the excitement of the future dampened by the prospect of sharing your news with the department head or head teacher.  

The manner in which a teacher resigns can have a lasting impact. A positive resignation process not only benefits the departing teacher but also the school community, and the first step of the journey involves writing the resignation letter, which is arguably one of the hardest tasks. 

Resignation etiquette: getting it right 

However thrilled you may be about leaving your teaching role, it’s imperative to maintain professionalism. By providing ample notice and following proper procedures, you demonstrate your commitment and respect for the school you are leaving. This reflects well on your reputation and can contribute to maintaining good references for future career opportunities.  

Teachers are bound by set resignation dates to allow for suitable replacements to be found, so planning ahead is key for a smooth departure at the end of the spring, summer or autumn term. Resigning well helps minimise disruption to students’ education and ensures continuity in the learning environment.  

Resigning with integrity also allows teachers to depart on amicable terms, preserving professional relationships and networks. In the small world of education, where connections often extend beyond individual schools, maintaining relationships with former colleagues and administrators can be invaluable for future career opportunities, whether through networking, references, or collaboration on future projects. 

A resignation letter template can facilitate the exit process by providing a structured framework. Templates ensure that essential information, such as the intended last working day and any necessary follow-up actions, is clearly communicated, while also allowing personalisation to reflect gratitude for time spent at the school and reasons for leaving. 

Using a resignation letter template also helps ensure that all necessary details are included, reducing the risk of misunderstandings or oversights during the exit process. This can help to streamline the administrative aspects. 

Take some of the stress out of resigning. Our template will ensure you leave on a high note, freeing you up to focus on a happy and productive notice period. 

Download our free teacher resignation letter template to help smooth your exit using the button at the top of this page.