Nail That Job!

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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How can teachers ‘nail that new-job‘ at interview?

It doesn’t matter if you are new to teaching or an ‘old-lag’ like me, when attending interview to work in a new school, it’s important to invest in the process so that you can ‘nail that job’!

Is it any wonder we have a recruitment and retention crisis? Today’s teachers who are job hunting need to think carefully before taking a step into teaching. The job is harder. Teachers are working longer hours and for less pay, and the demands to understand data and demonstrate student progress (for all groups and abilities) has never been more paramount. I suspect this expectation will only increase before the profession reaches breaking point! The recruitment crisis is here that’s for sure … and over the last 3 years or so, the quality of applications – in my experience – is declining. Either that, or I am becoming ‘long-in-the-tooth, fussy or wiser.

A Real Issue:

Securing that perfect job is even harder to do when the competition is stiff, yet despite a vast array of subjects, types of schools and various sectors of work to choose from, schools are facing serious recruitment issues. So, if it is proving difficult for schools, how can individuals seeking work, use the recruitment crisis to their advantage?

Here is my advice in a landscape filled with poorer applicants who may be struggling to find a permanent place of work.

5. Be on time:

In education, there is nothing worse than being late. Schools are all about punctuality and attendance, and being on time is critical for students and teachers. If you’re late for a job interview, then consider the day over before it’s even started (unless circumstances impact on all of the other candidates)!

4. Be prepared:

Always turn up to the school organised. I take pride in preparing my resources and arriving to the school with them in hand. There is nothing worse than a candidate arriving to your school for a lesson observation /  interview with nothing organised –  and the first question that you’re asked is, “can I use the photocopier?” rather than be asked a question about the job available at the school.

3. Be good:

If an interview is supposed to represent your best foot forward, then do every effort in your power to make it so. An observation at interview is placed into the process to offer a ‘snapshot of you’. I’ve questioned the purpose of this in the past few years – that the role of observations are defunct, especially if schools are still grading lessons – but watching a teacher teach for interview process does serve a purpose, even if it is just for a 15-25 minute observation. And despite the observation being a one-off performance, it has to be done until we can create a more reliable method for events such as interviews, to determine the quality of teaching.

It surprises me but it still happens, how diabolical some lessons are – knowing that your students are doing their very best to behave (because the work is so poorly pitched). Oh, and don’t forget about the actual interview itself, keep your answers concise and put some energy into this part of the process.

2. Be interested:

Ask questions. It never ceases to amaze me when you ask someone: “So, why this school?” Answers to this question ‘open up their soul’ in my opinion. The variety of answers can be startling: close to home; my agency suggested it to me; I know someone at the school; it’s a promotion; I’m travelling and need some work …

Do you research and find out as much as you can about the job / school. And if you can visit beforehand, do it.

1. Be concise:

It’s important to be factual on job applications; facts linked to impact of you and your work.

Since the Equality Act in 2010, a curriculum vitae is no-longer acceptable in employment, yet countless organisations still prefer to use this methodology for selection. For example, you may include your date of birth on your CV, and I haven’t. This inclusion of information can lead to the process excluding you from the position available, because someone on the panel has used their ‘selection bias’ against you because you appear ‘too old/young’ …

Your curriculum vitae is a window into your working life – and occasional personal preferences. I’ve read all sorts of horror stories on CVs, for astrology star-signs to number of times divorced! Totally irrelevant information for a teaching application. So, it’s best to keep personal details brief e.g. interests.

Many supply agencies still use this traditional method when sharing your details with potential employers. The same goes for independent schools too. So my advice? Keep the information brief and factual and save details for the interview conversation. Oh, and don’t leave any gaps –  because every ‘safer recruitment trained’ senior leader will ask what you were doing between X and Y  period for safeguarding reasons. If you have 3 missing months on your work history,  you may have a valid reason for this and you may think it’s not important or relevant to include it; but the lack of detail could be enough to not be shortlisted for a job.

Try the 5 Minute Interview Plan to help frame your thinking and job research.

In my next post, I’ll offer 5 tips for schools …


2 thoughts on “Nail That Job!

  1. Dear TeacherToolKit,

    I went for a job interview for a Leadership position more than a week ago .
    I was offered the job and was told I would receive the Offer Letter soon, thing that has not happened yet.
    The executive who is in contact with me has reassured twice (after me sending him reminders) that everything is OK and that I will receive the letter that day.. , tomorrow… on Monday…
    The letter has not arrived after 7 working days and two weekends in between. My current Head Teacher is aware I will be leaving this school, hence, he is waiting for my polite resignation (not waiting until the deadline) , giving him enough time to find my replacement.

    What should I do? Should I worry? Should I keep pestering?

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