40 head of year interview questions and answers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 11 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Head of year teachers use their experience and subject knowledge to guide students and teachers. As a part of this role, a head of year is in charge of the pastoral care of all students within the year, with the support of form tutors to handle the running of assemblies, different school events and day-to-day tutoring. Preparing for an interview is a valuable step if you're considering a job as a head of year. In this article, we share a list of head of year interview questions and answers to consider when applying for jobs.

What are the typical head of year interview questions and answers?

Head of year interview questions and answers provide hiring managers within schools the information necessary to decide whether you're a good fit for the role. Whether you're applying for an internal promotion as a teacher or searching for a head of year job elsewhere, these questions provide insight into your skills and capabilities. As a role that involves working with children, interviewers usually start by building a rapport and getting to know you as a person to find out if you suit the culture of the role.

Beyond getting to know you, the primary purpose of head of year interview questions is to identify if you have the experience and qualifications required for the role. Questions about different teaching methods and student care practices are common in head of year interviews as a core component of the position. Interviewers may also enquire about your hobbies and interests inside and outside the workplace, gauging your interest and enthusiasm for the role. Ensuring you're well-prepared is the ideal way to answer questions truthfully while providing all the relevant details that hiring managers require.

Related: How to write a teacher cover letter (with examples)

General interview questions

General interview questions allow potential employers to get to know you and build rapport, helping the rest of the interview to flow better. These questions focus less on the technical and theoretical aspects of the role and help the interviewer to understand your motivations and potential when considering you for the position. Examples of general interview questions you may encounter include:

  • Can you describe yourself in a single sentence?

  • Can you talk over your CV with me?

  • What is your plan for five years?

  • How much experience do you have teaching students?

  • Why have you applied for the position at [school]?

  • What element of teacher training did you enjoy most?

  • Why do you like working with students in [year group]?

  • What's your philosophy on helping students reach their full potential?

  • Can you tell me about an achievement you're proud of?

  • Why do you think you're a strong candidate for this role?

  • What recent skills or hobbies have you acquired?

  • Have you always wanted to work in teaching?

  • What do you find more important about children's education?

  • What kind of school environment would you like to work in?

  • Can you describe a personal achievement that helped your career?

Related: Qualifications to be a teacher (undergrad to leadership)

Experience and background interview questions

Questions relating to your experience and background in education are vital for head of year interviews. These questions allow hiring managers to understand why you're a good fit for the job and what work experience you have that can confirm your suitability. Queries about your past workplaces, education and overall experience are all standard for this kind of question. Some examples of background and experience interview questions include:

  • What do you enjoy the most about working in education?

  • What kind of educational environments have you worked in before?

  • What part of teaching is most rewarding based on experience?

  • Can you describe a time when you've held responsibility for other teachers?

  • What experience do you have working with students of various backgrounds?

  • Can you describe a time when you resolved a problem between two staff members?

  • Have you ever worked with a single-year group before?

  • Can you explain your process for working in a high-pressure, fast-paced environment?

  • Do you have experience working in a larger team?

  • Are you willing to step up and handle work outside your responsibilities?

  • What does a typical day look like for you in your current role?

  • How do you feel about handling the administrative side of teaching?

  • Do you have any concerns about managing teachers?

  • Can you explain a critical lesson you've learned through your teaching experience?

  • Do you have experience with [technology or software]?

Related: 15 teacher interview tips to help you start teaching

In-depth interview questions

In-depth questions provide interviewers with more information about your work ethic, capabilities and skills. For example, an in-depth question may ask you to discuss a scenario or provide a longer answer to a critical thinking or problem-solving question. These questions are less numerous in a typical interview, but it's crucial to answer appropriately and consider what information your interviewer is looking for. Some examples of in-depth questions include:

  • If we were to hire you, how soon do you feel you could work solo?

  • Can you explain what you would do if a child in your year group experienced bullying?

  • How would you handle juggling classroom work with head of year responsibilities?

  • What is your approach to providing a safe, open environment for staff?

  • How do you split your focus between students and teachers?

  • How would you deliver constructive feedback or concerns to a teacher?

  • Can you explain a situation where you've solved a complex problem at work?

  • What steps would you take if an emergency situation arises at school?

  • What core values are most important to instil in teachers and why?

  • Can you describe a time you've supported a headteacher in disciplining or dismissing a teacher?

Related: 10 teacher career paths: requirements, salaries and duties

Sample answers for head of year interviews

Making sure you have an idea of the question you could encounter is an ideal way to prepare for a head of year interview. As the first in-person contact you may have with potential employers, your interview provides a strong first impression of you as an employee. Thinking about the answers that interviewers are looking for is an excellent place to start. Some examples of questions with answers include:

Why have you applied for this position at [school]?

Most interviewers ask this question to get to know you and your motivations for applying for the role. As an opening query, employers are typically looking to understand why you want the job, what skills you bring and why you'd be a strong fit for a head of year position. Considering this information can help you answer concisely while also acknowledging your history and experience:

Example: 'I applied for the role of head of year as the next step in my career as an educator. With more than 10 years' experience in my current role as the head of history, I felt ready for the next challenge and wanted to move into a more student-centric role. While I've handled administration in the past, I feel a job as a head of year gives me the ideal blend of student interaction and teacher leadership. With just as much focus on helping students and teachers as there is on lesson planning and administration.'

Related: 14 essential teacher skills

How would you manage classroom work with head of year responsibilities?

As a role that requires responsibility for both students and teachers, most head of year positions split their time between classroom duties and leading tutors within their assigned year group. Interviewers asking this question are looking to determine whether you're able to multi-task, delegate and complete all your responsibilities to a high standard. This question provides an opportunity to refer back to experience and identify your areas of strength:

Example: 'As an educator, I'm already very experienced at managing a classroom workload. In the past, I've supported my head teacher by stepping up in activities such as sports day, handling general organisation and delegating responsibilities to other teachers with no impact on my own work. I'm confident that I can handle all of the tasks of my role and that the overlap in student care and safeguarding can enrich my teaching work as well.'

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