Pupil interview panels

Having a pupil on an interview panel, or having a pupils’ interview panel alongside the adult one can be an invaluable resource because pupils give them a different perspective on the candidates. Some schools arrange school council interviews with candidates for staff positions.If you would like to learn more about the importance of pupils having a say in the interview process, you can read an article on the subject by following this link School council interviews

Having seen how the school council interview process has worked in a number of schools, we recommend that schools approach this process with careful thought around how interviews are prepared for, conducted and evaluated.

Remember to check out our Smart School Council Model which helps your school to engage all students, track impact and directly address Ofsted requirements around British Values and SMSC.

Interview process

A useful school council interview process, or pupil interview panel process, might look like the following:

  1. Governors decide on your interview process, how the day will be run and what role pupils will play in this (bearing in mind that any decision of who to employ is ultimately down to the governors).
  2. Write down the process and responsibilities and share with all involved, including pupils and prospective candidates (i.e. put it in the application pack).
  3. Get together a representative group of pupils, explain the process to them, including how much weight their views will be given. This maybe your school council or a group s/elected for this purpose, but here we’ll assume it’s the school council.
  4. Get the school council members to go to other classes in the school (how many depends on the role being applied for, for a Head you may want them to go to all classes):
    1. Discuss,  ‘what makes a good Head/Deputy/Teacher/etc.?’
    2. Each class should decide on the top 3 qualities/skills.
    3. These should be recorded by the school council representative.
  5. The school council should be given training on:
    1. Confidentiality
    2. Active listening
    3. Open v. Closed questions
    4. Leading questions
    5. Questions candidates might ask
  6. The school council then discusses:
    1. What the other pupils have said makes a good Head/Deputy/Teacher/etc.?
    2. They choose the most important of these.
    3. What questions would you ask to find out if someone had each of these?
    4. What sort of answers would be good or bad?
  7. This list of questions is then drawn up along with a marking sheet for each of the questions/qualities.
  8. Setting up the pupil panel:
    1. The pupil panel is separate to the adult panel (ideally there should be no other adults in the room, where safeguarding good practice allows).
    2. One student is nominated as the chair.
    3. The pupil panel is not a ‘weeding out’ stage.
    4. Candidates are encouraged to ask the pupil panel questions to ensure this is a two-way process.
  9. As in formal interviews each candidate is asked the same set of questions. Each member of the pupil panel writes comments and marks on their marking sheet. After each candidate has left pupils discuss them and come to a joint conclusion. These are written down and passed to the adult interview panel.
  10. The pupil panel meets with the adult interview panel so the adult panel can ask for clarification or explanation of the pupil panel’s findings.
  11. The adult interview panel makes the decision on who to appoint. Giving whatever weight to the pupil’s views they feel it merits. If they wish to they can question the pupil panel on how they arrived at their decision.
  12. The application process is evaluated so that it can be improved for next time:
    1. Discussion with school council about how it went: did they ask the right types of questions; did they get the kinds of answers they were expecting, etc.?
    2. Where possible, discussion with candidates about how they felt about the process.

The benefits you’ll get from involving pupils in the interview process:

  • A wider variety of perspectives on candidates.
  • Candidates get a different view on the school.
  • Pupils learn something about what makes a good teacher (and how hard it is to be one).
  • You might learn something about what pupils value in a good teacher (I’ve never once seen the answer, ‘a pushover’).
  • Pupils learn about how interviews work, useful knowledge when entering the work force.
  • A good starting point for relationships between pupils and a new teacher.
  • It says that your school has pupils as its focus and that’s what you expect of your staff too.

Here are a few other people’s views on the benefits of pupils’ involvement in the interview process:


Remember to check out our Smart School Council Model which helps your school to engage all students, track impact and directly address Ofsted requirements around British Values and SMSC.