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How to Structure Interview Responses

How to Structure your Interview Responses

Interview responses can be prepared ahead of time, follow a structure and must show that you are projecting into the role.


Interviews are structured differently between schools, roles and level of leadership. There are definitely commonalities though. The advice in this article will help with the preparation and how to answer the questions you are given. Whether you see the questions ahead of time, 15 minutes before the interview or not at all, this advice will serve you well in each case.



Prepare responses ahead of time


There is quite a lot you can do ahead of time before heading into an interview. Although you may not know the questions ahead of time, you can prepare leadership examples before walking into an interview.


Spend time thinking about examples of leadership stories you can talk about. I acknowledge that more often than not, your best leadership stories are in your selection criteria responses. Do not discredit these though as you can talk about them in an interview. You do not need to come up with fresh ones. By talking about these in your interview, you get a chance to embellish and provide details that did not belong in a selection criteria.


Follow a structure for each question


It is important that you follow a structure for your interview response. You do not want to start rambling and going off on a tangent when you have a limited time to answer the questions provided. Having a clear structure to 'hang' your answers on will allow you to keep on track. The panels want to see you have a clear process that you follow and by following a structure, you'll show that process.


Follow a structure that allows you to tell the narrative in a conversational tone. If your educational context has a specific model of change that is used, structure your answers using the phases of that model. For example, in Queensland, the Inquiry Cycle is used to make change on a school level. Anyone going for a role in Queensland should use those 5 phases.


If your educational context does not stipulate a structure, I would recommend the S.T.A.R model.  You can write out the situation, tasks, actions and results for different stories that demonstrate your leadership.


Place each leadership story example on a separate sheet of paper, clearly articulating the different phases. Once you see the interview questions, you can write the actions you would do for this particular role so leave some space above each step. You can get a copy of how to structure your pre-prepared interview responses here in the Resource Library for Aspiring Leaders.


Project into the role during the interview


Its a balance when responding to questions in an interview. You need to project into the role by state what you will do when you are successful in the role. Then bringing in examples of how you did it in a different context.


Think of it as a hamburger. The top bun is what you will do in the role, the middle is what you have done previously the bottom bun in summarising the key actions you will take. This will allow you to show that you are projecting into the role whilst also showing evidence of the processes you followed previously.


There is a PDF you can use in the Resource Library for Aspiring Leaders that shows this structure.


In conclusion


  1. Prepare ahead of time.
  2. Follow a structure.
  3. Project into the role.


If you'd like support in this area, I help teachers and leaders prepare for interviews through strategy and mindset. You can book in a  free 30 minute call with me to discuss your interview preparation needs or read more here.