Leadership approaches, support and ideas from Bristol Brunel Academy

AP interview day part 2: Goldfish Bowl Group Activity

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AP interview day part 2: Goldfish Bowl Group Activity

In the early stages of my career I went for an interview for a leadership programme, the first part of this process was a gold fish bowl activity which completely blindsided me, I hadn’t heard or seen anything like this before and it was truly toe curlingly intimidating. For anyone who has not had the pleasure, imagine this, all of the candidates are sat around a meeting table and are given a topic to discuss or activity to complete that involves a debate or conversation, around the outside of the meeting table are observers each watching a different candidate and grading them on a set of criteria or making notes about the quality of their input.

The purpose of this types of activity is to:

–          Look for the way you interact with your peers in a high pressure situation.

–          Observe those colleagues who can lead without dominating a discussion.

–          Look for how actively you can listen and take on other peoples thoughts.

Having now had the pleasure of being on both sides of this process several times I have learnt a few things that could be useful for colleagues in the application process:

–          The process is never won but can be lost during this activity.

–          Look to find a balance between not saying too much and not saying enough- if anything saying fewer high quality comments is better.

–          Be an active listener “I like what you said there about…” or “I agree with your point about…”

–          Pose questions to the other candidates and include them in the conversation.

–          Try to find a consensus of opinion or thoughts in the allotted time, even if this is an agreement that opinions differ across the group.

This activity is intended to be awkward and challenging, it puts candidates in direct competition and raises the stakes of an already emotionally charged day and will test your emotional intelligence and control. Relax and let your positive leadership style shine through.

“Great leaders bring their own weather”


Great links for school leadership interview preparation:


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