Getting the most from a job interview

So how can we frame this process into a positive and valuable experience?

A meeting of equals – how you perceive your status in an interview will affect your performance. If you think that the people you are interviewing for are ‘better’ than you or that you are not yet capable of working at their level, you could undermine yourself.

interview panel

Consider what skills and talents you have and how they set you apart from the other candidates. Remember; if they’re interviewing for a position, they’re looking for the right person. You are helping in the search and if you’re called to meet with them, you’re already ahead of the majority of applicants!

Treat it as an opportunity

Wherever you are in your career, you can see an interview as an opportunity to practice and demonstrate the profession you love. Rather than seeing it as a test, it’s another platform for you to express your skills with a new group of people, even if you don’t get offered the job.

Especially if you are someone who hasn’t yet secured your first full-time post – what a great chance to do the very thing you’ve trained for?

Ask questions – show you’re interested – No two schools are alike

In the Q&A part of the interview, it shouldn’t be a case of you only answering questions. It could be a dialogue – come prepared with specific questions about that particular school. It might be the place where you spend the next chapter of your life, so you want to know it’s the right place for you.

Think about your ‘must haves’ or ‘would likes’ and have two or three clear questions ready. It could be relating to your work schedule, the school’s development planning over the next few years or which particular challenges that school faces. You must be able to show you have thought about the day to day demands of that school.

hand pick

Welcome feedback

Acknowledge that you’re growing – We are always encouraging a growth mindset in our students, but do you treat yourself the same way? No matter how an interview goes, have the courage to ask for feedback – either right there and then or in the days following the result of the interview.

Even if they offer you a job, you can still ask about what strengths or weaknesses they saw; these could become useful talking points at your first performance review. If you are unsuccessful, the feedback can be carried into your next interview as a possible to-do list of improvements so that the next time, you get the job!


About our Community Expert


Paul B

Paul Boyd
Community Expert

Paul is an actor and English teacher from Northern Ireland. Alongside his acting career working in theatre, film and television across the UK, he also teaches in primary and secondary schools throughout London.

Paul provides performance coaching to both individual clients and businesses.

The science behind the health benefits of meditation

One of the main findings that I became fascinated with was neuroplasticity: the ability of the brain to change and create new neural connections throughout your life, and the most powerful way to do this, you guessed it: meditation. I appreciate that as a yoga and meditation teacher it is so easy for me to say this, but even if this resonates with one person, it would make me so happy.

It is incredibly easy for me to talk about the benefits from my subjective point of view yet when there is scientific proof about the effects that it has on us, people start to listen. I’m not saying that it’s like proving gravity or that the earth is round (how is this still in dispute) but in proving that meditation can change the way your brain functions daily is something not to be taken lightly.

mindful brain

A study that grabbed my attention the most was by Harvard neuroscientist Dr. Sara Lazar. Her 2005 findings were groundbreaking and showed a brain similarity with someone who I think you might know. Dr. Lazar discovered that experienced meditators had much more neural density, folds, electrical activity and thickness in their prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain responsible for cognitive behaviour and essentially our personality).

Fear, anxiety, and stress are often a catalyst for so many people to start meditating. For me, my own experiences with anxiety are what led me to yoga in the first place.

In addition to this study, there are numerous findings that show that meditation “thickens” and grows the prefrontal cortex. This type of brain function is what made Albert Einstein’s brain so unique: needless to say the ability to create this through neuroplasticity and meditation is phenomenal.

When I read about this brain functioning, I went on to search for the part of the brain that is responsible for our emotions, survival instinct and memory: the amygdala. The simplest way to understand this is the fight or flight process with fear and how we both perceive and deal with any situation controlled by the amygdala.

mindful table

In 2016, a team of Spanish and German (Yang et. al) fMRI imaged the brains of meditation beginners before and after 40 days of mindfulness training to see the differences. Naturally, after the six weeks, their anxiety and depression scores had decreased. The part of the study that is truly phenomenal is that the participants had dramatically decreased their amygdala in size and volume- in only six weeks!

The implications of this study show that we can learn to control our primitive brain and teach ourselves to build up a protective layer against the negative effects of stress and anxiety before they take control of us. Interestingly, this study also found out that we can strengthen the Temporoparietal Junction (TPJ) associated with our emotional intelligence (EQ) through meditation.

Our intelligence is not set the day we are born, we have the power to take control.

We know ourselves that meditation gives you the tools you need to deal with your emotions but this finding proves that no matter how deep you may be suffering from depression, we can use tools to begin feeling better.

When delving further into neuroplasticity there is one more part of the brain that I wanted to mention and that is the Hippocampi. This part of the brain is responsible for learning and memory and again I wanted to see if, through neuroplasticity, the way we meditate would physically effect this. In another study by Dr. Lazar her research shows that meditation dramatically increased Hippocampal cortical thickness, with a magnitude determined by experience.

downard dog

In essence, this means that meditation has the power to shape the learning and memory centre of the brain into something phenomenal. If you want to create a strong memory capability and become a super learner… start with meditation.

I believe that meditation is the greatest gift that we can give to ourselves that can be done anywhere, anytime and it costs us nothing but time.

If you are tempted to give meditation a go, begin by trying out the box breath method:

  • Inhale for 4, pause for 4, exhale for 4, pause for 4.
  • Imagine the breath moving across the body in this way and visualise it creating a box shape reaching the four corners.

When you use your mind to visualize these techniques it becomes even more powerful.


About our Community Expert


Kirsty Raynor

#TeachFit programme lead

Kirsty is a yoga teacher on a journey of empowerment, building confidence and pushing the boundaries of what traditional yoga is and can be.

She leads the TeachFit Yoga workshops in our partner schools.



Webinar | The Hallmarks of Effective Professional Development

The Hallmarks of Professional Development with Ross Morrison McGill | Tuesday 30 April 2019 | Webinar

Event description

Research has reported that opportunities for teachers in England to engage with professional development is one of the worst in OECD countries – a meagre 5 days per year when compared to teachers in Shanghai who have 40 days allocated per academic year and currently:

● Are insufficiently evidence-based.
● Do not focus sufficiently on specific pupil needs.
● Are too inconsistent in quality.
● Lag behind those experienced by colleagues elsewhere internationally.

Join Founder of Teacher Toolkit and Opogo Community Expert Ross Morrison McGill as he reminds you of the hallmarks for building effective professional development culture within your school. The latest research will be disseminated, as well as a reminder of things to avoid.


What will be covered?

A range of resources will be offered, as well as leading organisations that provide a plethora of ideas at your fingertips, including:

• Duration and rhythm of effective CPD support.

• Shifting towards a longer-term focus and aligning professional development processes, content and activities.

• How to step away from a ‘one-size fits all’ approach to individual needs are carefully considered.

• How to ensure the content of effective professional development considers both subject knowledge and subject-specific pedagogical discussions.

• How best to source external input from providers/specialists who can help support and challenge orthodoxies within a school & provide diverse perspectives.

• How to empower teachers through collaboration and peer learning with powerful leadership to help define staff opportunities and embed cultural change.

Who will benefit?

Teachers involved in the curation of (and who are responsible for) effective professional development of others.LINE_divide


When will the event take place?



Date: Tuesday 30 April 2019
 4:30pm – 5:30pm
Location: Online

Click here to book your free place now.


Speaker Profile: Ross Morrison McGill

Ross Morrison McGill, also known as @TeacherToolkit, is the ‘most followed educator on social media in the UK’. Ross has been a teacher for 25 years and is the founder of one of the most popular education websites in the world.

He is an award-winning blogger, author and today, has worked with over 100 schools in 8 countries. The Sunday Times listed Ross as one of the ‘500 Most Influential People in Britain’ and today, he remains the only classroom teacher to have featured.”


Working with SEND Students: 101

Event description

Are you looking to start or expand your career into supporting students with SEND, or are simply seeking some practical upskilling, then our next CPD workshop ‘Working with SEND students’ is for you.

Join the Opogo consultants and established SEND educators as they help you enhance and establish your knowledge base, prepare you for working SEND students and give you practical strategies to use in the classroom.

By the end of this workshop, you will have all the tools you need to always have a positive impact on your pupils, impress your colleagues and take a step closer to your dream job.


What will be covered?

  • Basic understanding of SEND needs, settings and responsibilities
  • Inclusive language & terminology
  • General safeguarding responsibilities
  • How to “scaffold” work for SEND students
  • What to expect and things to be mindful of in schools
  • Autism awareness and dealing with students on different parts of the spectrum
  • Strategies on keeping SEND students engaged and on task
  • Interactive Q&A session

Who will benefit?

This workshop will be perfect for those who have just started working with SEND students or are looking to or are interested in working in this space.



When will the event take place?



Date: Wednesday 20 March 2019
 5:30pm – 7:00pm
Location: Room 3A, Opogo, 3rd floor, 15 Bishopsgate, London, EC2N 3AR

Click here to book your free place now.