Questions for Head of Department Interview

These are some questions that I have gleaned from the web.  This page used to contain toe-curling answers that I worked out in my head from my first years of teaching.  I had to remove them for my own self respect.

Openers that are supposed to be easy, but are actually hard!

Why St Bogwalds’s school?

Why do you want to lead a history department?

Why are you the best person for this position?

What are the skills, experiences and attributes that make you the ideal candidate for this position?

How will we notice that you’re head of department?

What do you think History contributes to the school ethos?


How will you motivate your staff?

How will you improve the teaching and learning?

What would you do if a senior member of your team was falling down in some area of practice, or refusing to implement a department policy?

Exam performance

How could you improve our Value Added scores / raw grades at GCSE?

How could you improve take-up at GCSE?


What are the formal ways in which you can find out about the performance of your department/faculty?

And the informal ways of doing this?

You might have seen school data – they could ask you what it suggests to you.

How will you use pupil data to improve attainment?

What will you do with your findings from data?

What kinds of actions and interventions can data inform?

How would you deal with underachiving boys (esp D grade students at GCSE)

How would you use data like CAT, SAT, G + T internally produced info to raise achiev within the dept?

What one change would you introduce to improve results within the dept?

Teaching and Learning

What were the strengths and weaknesses of the lesson you taught in the morning or a recently taught lesson

What’s the role of pupil voice in improving teaching and learning in a department?

How would you improve teaching and learning in a history department?

How could ICT play a role in raising achievement in History?

How would you develop a team ethos within the History department?

Your future

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Hard Questions that I should ask!

  • How much time does history get in the time table?
  • What is staff morale like?  Turnover?
  • Standard practice is 10% of KS3 curriculum time – you should not be expected to have less than 100 mins per week ie two lessons for each year group.
  • What kind of administrative support do you supply to HOD’s?
  • What kind of support have teachers got from you in terms of workforce reform?
  • Does the school support History as a discrete subject valued for the skills it delivers and the contribution it makes to the whole school, or is it seen as part of Humanities / Citizenship? Personally it has to be the former.
  • What freedom do you give departments to innovate in terms of their curriculum, use of ICT, dept website, experimental lessons, assessment policy?
  • 14-19 Reform and History

The more experience I get, I find that successful candidates are those that can express ideas in terms of those set out below:

Key Stage 3

  • get an overview of the topics that are taught;
  • get an overview of which skills are to be taught and when;
  • share their expertise about:
  • which parts of the curriculum are most important; and
  • which skills are best taught with which topics.
  • look at the data – what does it tell you about which groups are progressing well, and which are not?

Key Stage Four

Look at the data for this year’s Yr11 – are there any areas of knowledge or exam technique that can be re-addressed now so as to give them more chance in the finals?

Are there any groups in exam years that are struggling?  What do you need to do to improve their understanding?

Planning schemes of work and integrating practice papers, knowledge tests and skills practice at GCSE level.


I have put some ads on this page – because it is visited so often by those who don’t need to look at the rest of the site.  I hoping it will make some contribution to the hosting fees for the rest of the site.

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