I get knocked down…

Imagine the scene: You’ve at last got your interview for that Deputy Head post the one you’ve always wanted. You sit there in your brand new suit and tie, wriggling uncomfortably; is it the new shirt digging in? Or is it the fact that the suit lies dormant on your Visa account still waiting to be paid for; lying there unloved like a tube of after sun in Cold November. Hands are clasped, tight, sweating, slightly trembling – you casually but cautiously look around at the assembled panel of seven! Yes seven of them!

The lead assassin from the Local Authority stares at you with steely, slate grey eyes. Uncannily he looks a little bit like Bill Oddie but has the compassion and tenderness of Hannibal Lecter – he makes his move and unceremoniously, unsmilingly, unsympathetically draws the first blood. No soft sweetener to put you at ease; No! He goes straight for the jugular; asking a question so alien from the ones you have practised in your head previously; the ones that you have practised with your colleagues; with your family; even the dog had to go through the benefits of collaborative group work, safeguarding; rigorous monitoring and pupil assessment. The question! Oh the question – it still has to be answered! The neurons are screaming frantically in terror as they race around your head looking for the opening line, that ‘Obama slickness’ that will have them eating out the palm of your hand within seconds.

But nothing occurs! The line you are searching for refuses to materialise – that one precious line that could, so easily, save you from the degradation that lies ahead. What happened next is unforgivable and beyond reproach; the elastic band that attaches the brain to you lower jaw suddenly snaps! You’re now the proverbial rabbit in the headlights, in career free fall; falling faster and faster into the abyss. Into the cesspool of self doubt and uncertainty.

The opening question (still insufficiently unanswered) is followed by question after relentless question; each ones picks you up and slams you against the ‘metaphoric’ wall that has just been self erected within your psyche. You once again scan the room looking for a friendly glimpse of humanity, of empathy – but you know you are alone! Alone with only the two evil horsemen of humiliation and indignity for company.

Suddenly from behind the heads of the malevolent septet of distaste gathered before you; a glimmer of hope can be seen – a lifeline. Outside the window a small blue tit hangs upside on a branch, he pecks away nonchalantly at a lush green leaf completely unaware of the torture that he is witnessing through the window. I close my eyes for a brief second and wish we could change places; as I slowly open them again I look for him but alas – he has gone. Left me! Left me alone to be savaged by the baying crowd. Hungry for blood; hungry to stamp out the very last crumb of hope that is contained within my poor, dilapidated, decrepit ego.

Well that was the experience I had of my first ever interview for a Deputy Head post. Can you beat that? If so. I’d love to hear from you.

Oh by the way; ‘On this particular occasion I was unsuccessful’ – And the blue tit? Never saw him again!


11 thoughts on “I get knocked down…

  1. I’ll always remember my first Dep head interview …… In an old vicarage …. Half way through questions from a panel of 8 people, all sat in a seemingly never-ending horseshoe in front of the window, me facing them so looking out ….. Did the window-cleaner appear at the top of his ladder, dirty cloth in hand, splashing about, grinning away!

    Needless to say I lost my train of thought! Fun fun!

    1. Hi Maggie,
      I did try to reply last week but I don’t know if it came through. Thanks anyway for your comments – God only knows how I would have managed with a panel of 8. I was devastated when I didn’t get the job but it has been a cathartic exercise writing the bolg and I’m glad you enjoyed it. the irony is that most of my friends say that my future should be in writing and not as a Deputy Head – only time will tell.
      Kind regards
      p.s – I am currently writing this week’s blog about letting go and letting the children learn. It should be interesting.

    1. Thanks Julia
      I’m glad you enjoyed the blog.
      Check out this week’s blog on Thurdsay. I am currently writing it about letting go and letting the children learn. It should be interesting.
      Cheers David

  2. At the end of an interview for subject leader I got up, confidently opened the door and walked into a broom cupboard. Only thing to do was to apologise, come out again and go through the proper door, which was being helpfully pointed out by the Chair of Governors. I got the job, but the incident wasn’t forgotten, because it was referred to by the head at my leaving do several years later.

    1. Hi Gerald,
      I would have longed for a broom cupboard during that ordeal – or even a wardrobe door like in Narnia. The interview I had for my current post was legendary. They could see I was struggling and tried to prompt me by asking a safe question about managing the behaviour of difficult children. I couldn’t give an explicit example of any of the strategies I used, so I just opeted for
      “I just have a gift from God!”
      You can imagine they have ribbed me for the past seven years.

      p.s – I am currently writing this week’s blog about letting go and letting the children learn. It should be interesting.

      Kind Regards – David ‘The Thought Weavers’

  3. Brilliant post. You write very vividly! Sounds like a terrifying experience… I’ve only ever been on the other side of the desk at school interviews as a chair of governors. Then I’ve always involved the children and asked their opinion. And believe you me, they have even less mercy than your seven headed panel!

    1. Hi Pooky
      Thanks for the lovely comments about the writing – The interview as you can see was a disaster; it was for the local school I went to as a boy and its the parish school where I worship. Therefore not only did I humiliate myself but I did it in front of other parishioners and the parish Priest!!
      What is it they say about ‘You can’t be a prophet in your own town!’
      The irony is that more people have complimented me about my writing than going for the job. Perhaps this was God’s little way of nudging me along the path that I should be following.
      Glad you enjoyed it and I hope it made you chuckle.

      p.s – I am currently writing this week’s blog about letting go and letting the children learn. It should be interesting.

      Kind Regards – David ‘The Thought Weavers’

  4. Bill Oddie – you’re so right. I know exactly the LEA person you’re on about, he’s interviewed me and observed me several times and yes! He’s a big Liverpool fan though – he observed me the very day Roy Keane left Utd and rubbed it in big style, so this could have been the telling factor.

  5. We’ve all been there. In one interview I likened under performing teachers to alcoholics as I was desperate to say something when my brain shut down! Needless to say I didn’t get that one and as I explained to the kind lady giving me the feedback ‘you could’ve given me the answers and I wouldn’t have got them right!’ One massive lesson I learnt was to forget trying to get the ‘right’ answer; the biggest mistake I made was trying to remember answers from some book a friend had recommended. It’s better to talk from the heart – if you’re applying for these roles then you know what you’re doing and have probably already done most of it so just go for it…and if you don’t get it then the school wasn’t right for you and you’ll look back in the future and realise that it was the right decision. My last piece of advice is ‘don’t just apply for everything because you might end up getting a job you don’t really want’ and being a deputy is one of the hardest out there so you have to enjoy it! Good luck, stick at it and you’ll get the one that is right for you. Then you’ll move onto headship interviews…but that’s a whole new saga!!!

  6. First interview small special school in Ulverston. Headteacher a not unattractive lady who lead small panel. Part way through interview she winked. What does this mean? Have I got the job or a date; The job was offered to another candidate and sadly as l didn’t stay around for a debrief we’ll never know!

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