Music interviews

Over the years I have interviewed lots of people for music jobs. Sometimes the decision has been difficult – so don’t loose heart if you are not selected. I can think of a couple of times when we would have appointed two people if we could.

By the way when filling in an application form address the job spec.

Here are a few thoughts on the process.

Not that I’m an expert at interviews – I’m pretty poor at them – so this isn’t advice or top tips – just my own point of view.

In my present school we observe a lesson, hold a student voice interview and then hold an interview.

Observation lesson:

  • It is difficult to teach an observation lesson. However we are looking for how you build relationships in the classroom. We want to see some practical music making.
  • If things go wrong – don’t worry – be willing to adjust your lesson and try something else.
  • Observation lessons are tough – but generally we appreciate this. Feel free to contact and ask for clarification of task and be explicit about what you might need.


Student voice

They want to see that you are a warm, friendly, strong person who can do the business in the classroom. Show you are interested in them.

The interview

I’m surprised by how often people don’t answer the questions or don’t really take the opportunity to tell us what they can do.

I’m sure nerves take a part – but it might be worth rehearsing answers so that you give a full account with out waffling.

Questions and Answers.

Describe a good music lesson. Discuss your own lesson.

Surprisingly very few people answer this well. I think you should be willing to show your understanding of pedagogy here and outline the things you feel are important. I would like to hear something like:

Challenge/high expectations

Good explanations

Clear modelling to illustrate how to do the task

Good questioning which develops understanding.

formative assessment to support students in moving forward.


Alternatively you might like to talk about an immersive high quality musical experience which engages all the class .


Or indeed a mix of both.

When discussing your own lesson show your awareness of its strengths and areas for development.


What are your thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of a Musical Futures approach to music teaching? What experience have you had of the approach?


A slightly unusual question. But I want to know if you are open to the idea of student ownership of work and willing to take on board/explore student prior interests. I don’t think it would work for me if you just said I would never use Musical Futures. However that said you might have blown me away in your observation lesson in which case ultimately I want to hear some thoughts around pedagogy again and what you feel are the best ways to excite and enthuse students in music making.

What assessment strategies do you think are most effective in promoting progress and describe some examples of how you have used assessment?

I’m hoping for discussing of formative assessment – both verbally and also musically. I want to hear how you get stuck in when kids are playing and join in – offering suggestions and engaging in dialogue with students. I probably should be interested in summative assessment expertise but I’m not.

Many students at this school bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm to their studies, some students lack a great deal of confidence in their abilities – what qualities and skills do you think you would need to work successfully with our students?


resilience, patience, sense of humour, tenacity, love, drive, energy, passion, empathy, support, understanding, high expectations, an ability to draw people in, compassion, firm boundaries, a belief they can do it, a willing to be inclusive and see potential in all, desire to see how students might be not how they are, good teaching, clear building up of skills, opportunities to be creative, warmth, a sense of fun, openness, unswerving belief that they can improve, creativity, innovative approach, willingness to make mistakes, consistency, a lot of self belief and confidence.   etc etc. etc

What excites you most about the Arts? What passions, interest and skills would you offer the Expressive Arts department?

 Let us know what musical skills you can offer. What would you want to do in the music department as an extra curricular – what excites you musically. Tell us a bit about your musical history and how this might be used to improve the musical lives of our students. What can you offer us – go on let us know!

 What are your strengths as a teacher and what are your areas for professional development?

Guaranteed to throw up weak answers – so give this sort of thing some thought.

Safeguarding question

Don’t promise confidentiality, don’t befriend students on Facebook….

So an example of some typical questions – here’s some more this time for dance and for a HOD post:

  • What skills and qualities would you bring to the post of Curriculum Leader?
  • What is the role of curriculum Leader in ensuring the quality and consistency of teaching and learning?
  • What does effective assessment look like in dance?
  • Describe what an outstanding dance looks like?
  • How would you develop and extend the extra curricular offer. What are your priorities and why?
  • Dance recruits relatively small numbers. What strategies would you use to increase take up?
  • Can you tell me about a time a student seriously challenged your authority, and put you under stress, how did you react, how did this make you feel?
  • Are there any questions you would like to ask us?.


Hope this helps. Of course this is just my point of view. Good luck.



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