Yesterday I let off a little steam about the ridiculous recruitment process for teaching: the tight turn-arounds and the all day ordeal of the interview day. But that's not the be all and end all of irritating things about interviews. For there is one thing that everybody dreads when they turn up to interview, and that is the presence of The Internal Candidate.
Schools are legally obliged to advertise posts - I'm not entirely sure of the legalities, and I know of exceptions where posts have only been advertised internally. In my current school, the situation is different to any I've seen elsewhere: rejiggling a job and advertising it to all-comers is their sneaky way of getting rid of a staff member they don't want. It seems really mean. But also justified in some situations.
But when I have turned up to an interview, as I did recently, and there is the dreaded Internal Candidate, it can often feel like a foregone conclusion. As indeed it was in this case. The post had been advertised, I found out in retrospect, because the Internal Candidate had never had a proper interview, and had been taken on straight from teacher training college to cover a long-term absence. So the job was his, but we needed to go through the charade so it could be made officially his.
It must be horrible for the Internal Candidate to go through the day for what is essentially their own job, but it's also horrible for those, like me, who turn up to feel like they have been duped.
All day the school's staff were popping in and out of the staff room, saying hello and good luck to the hapless fellow. The kids in the corridors were making comments on his smart attire. At break time he was chatting with his colleagues while the rest of us sat there like the spare parts we were. When we had to teach a class with a short sample of a lesson, he had the advantage of knowing the class and the pupils, being familiar with the classroom and its resources, and knowing what they had already studied that year.
But still, I retained a glimmer of hope. Maybe he was a really mediocre teacher and they were looking for the opportunity to recruit somebody more experienced, like me. By the time the formal interviews arrived, I felt surprisingly relaxed, whereas the Internal Candidate was visibly twitching and shaking. He was the last to be interviewed. I had already whittered on for far too long but hoped I'd come across as friendly if nothing else. He was in there for 20 minutes, and then it took just 2 minutes before the Head came in and asked him to back into his office. The rest of us just pursed our lips and began packing away our papers. Two minutes of post-interview discussion just screamed stitch-up. It's never taken a panel less than half an hour to come to a conclusion before. By the time the Head started to explain to us what good candidates we had all been, I just wanted to punch him for wasting my time!