Seven teachers, heads and trust chief executives let slip the interview answers they’d like to hear

I have a shockingly poor attention span in interviews. If I’m going to have to see you every day, I need to get under your skin. Asking about hobbies sounds pervy, and I don’t want anyone to start talking about sport. So I ask “What are you reading?”

The question comes immediately after: what really excites you as a scientist/artist/historian/economist? In that I’m trying to find out if you still think and care about your subject. I love abstruse and incomprehensible replies. I’ve been down some real rabbit holes: gender politics and the Tudors, plate tectonics in daily life. Artists bring me their paintings and musicians play to me. Linguists perform in as many languages as they can teach. Theologians second-guess my liberal Anglican prejudices.

‘If you can discuss fiction, I know you’ve seen the world’

The reading question exposes another side. I’m not really worried about the reply. If you’ve got the nous to come up with a fancy answer I’ve no way of checking if it’s true: I’m not going to rummage through your bag or visit your bedside table. I just want an engagement with an inner world.


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