Recruiting teachers in Doncaster / Shortlisting and interviewing

From the outset of the recruitment it is critical that you always do your utmost to provide the candidates with the best experience. In the current market the candidate is key and you have to create an environment that they will want to work in.


Decide who will shortlist and interview job applicants. The panel should:

  • Consist of at least two people to decrease bias. It’s also easier for one person to take notes while the other is asking questions.
  • The panel must agree the shortlisting criteria from the job description.

The shortlisting process

  • Assess each application against the job’s essential and desirable criteria.
  • Use a short-listing grid, to score and record your assessment objectively and methodically.
  • Identify applicants that meet the criteria to invite for interview and those that should be rejected.

Using the grid enables you to see a full picture of all the applicants and is more effective than making notes. It will also help give feedback and defend your decisions if challenged.

Important - check all applications carefully for:

  • Incomplete or missing information
  • Unexplained gaps in employment
  • Repeated or frequent job changes
  • Anomalies or discrepancies in the information provided

Make a note of any gaps or anomalies that you want to explore with the candidate at interview.

Unsuccessful candidates at the shortlisting stage

Inform unsuccessful candidates in writing within three days. This will continue to give the candidates the best experience of your school.

Candidates may ask for feedback to understand why they were unsuccessful. Give brief, clear reasons, e.g. "You do not meet the essential criteria of having relevant experience". You don’t have to go into a lot of detail; a summary of the main reasons for not selecting will be sufficient. However, always ensure that the experience the candidate has a positive experience of the school.

Invitations to interviews

When inviting the successful candidates to interview you need to be positive and encourage a warm and welcoming tone in your correspondence. Thanking them for their interest and telling them how really excited you are about what they can offer the school.

Important checks to carry out before interview

These are some important checks that you must complete before an interview takes place:

Preparing and conducting interviews

Face-to-face interviews must be carried out with all shortlisted candidates. This is the stage at which it is easiest to make judgements about an applicant based on instant, subjective and sometimes wholly irrelevant impressions. Assess candidates against the requirements of the job and the job criteria.

When thinking about the interviews, make sure you are also thinking about the candidate's experience. You don’t want to create an oppressive environment. You need the candidates to feel welcome and feel positive about the school. Remember, you need to stand out from other schools when the candidates arrive, the chances are they will be interviewing at more than one school and you want to stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons. The following are a few suggestions of what good practice looks like:

See the interview planning and assessment pro-forma guidance notes for more details.

Other selection methods

Other selection methods can help you make good recruitment decisions, rather than relying solely on the interview. You can use exercises such as presentations, testing, meeting pupils / governors, delivering a lesson, preparing a lesson plan etc.

  • It’s essential for the panel to agree the purpose of a particular selection activity and what skills and competencies you are looking for.
  • Decide how to score candidates, ensuring that all positive and negative evidence is collected in a structured manner.
  • Assessment of all the selection activities should be fair and consistent across all candidates. In particular, you will need to give consideration to internal / external candidates. You can’t use information that is available or familiar to the panel with regards internal candidates as this information won’t be available for the external candidates.
  • When setting a lesson plan observation also consider the fairness around the pupils. The first candidate will have a natural advantage over the sixth as the behaviour of the children will alter over time.
  • Consider issues around whether the lesson topic is within the candidate’s field of expertise.

Unsuccessful candidates after interview

Inform unsuccessful candidates typically within 24 to 48 hours of the interview, but usually after your preferred candidate has verbally accepted your offer.

It is good practice to phone candidates with the news and then follow up in writing.

Offer feedback and where this is requested, use the notes made during interview. Never reference their performance against other candidates.

Well thought-out feedback sessions ensure that the unsuccessful candidates continue to receive a positive experience of your school.

Find out how to advertise your teaching vacancies for maximum results.

Find out how to shortlist and interview effectively.

Use this timetable to manage your recruitment process effectively.

Learn about onboarding techniques to help your new teacher settle in.

Learn about the importance of safeguarding in your recruitment process.

Contact us for help with your recruitment process.