An educator's guide to finding, applying, and interviewing for a teaching-related job.
#getthatjob An educatorâ€™s guide to finding, applying and interviewing for a teaching-related job. Doug Belsh aw Introduction Welcome to #getthatjob! I’ve been motivated to write this as a result of being asked and consulted by educators numerous times both face-to-face and online. The names and faces are different, but the problem is the same: how do I present myself effectively and honestly in writing and in person? In other words, how do I #getthatjob? This ebook will empower you to : • Find the type of education-related job you’re looking for • Write an application letter that will lead to interview • Use effective strategies to interview successfully Please note that whilst the specifics of #getthatjob are focused on schools in England, the ideas are much more widely applicable! The template for this ebook is based on an original shared very kindly free-of-charge by Antonio Lupetti (http://woorkup.com) ______________ ★ LINKS blog: http://dougbelshaw.com/blog email: email@example.com twitter: http://twitter.com/dajbelshaw #getthatjob Table of contents 1. Finding the right job for you .......................4 The choice we all face .............................................4 Where to look .........................................................8 2. Writing an effective letter of application ..10 You are your own media outlet .............................10 The art of embellishment ......................................16 Sample application letter .....................................20 Submitting your application ................................30 3. Strategies for interview success ..............32 Method acting .......................................................32 Seven strategies ....................................................34 The art of questioning ..........................................36 4. Conclusion .................................................38 5. Credits.........................................................39 #getthatjob 1. Finding the right job for you 1.1. The choice we all face There are many reasons why you may be looking to apply for a teaching-related job: • You may be towards the end of your teacher training and looking for your first job • The current job you’re in may be stressful, unrewarding or be too far away from where you’re want to live. • You may be looking for a promotion - to Head of Department or Assistant Head, for example. • Having had some time away from teaching you may be looking be looking to return to the classroom. In fact, there are many reasons why you may want to apply for a job in a particular school. And that’s the first thing to remember: not everyone is in your position. Everyone brings not only different skills but different experiences into the mix. You can use that to your advantage. The thing to remember is that, although you may not feel like it, you are in control. I’ll say that again in a slightly different way: You are in control of your career. #getthatjob There may be pressure on you to get a job - any job. It may feel like financial circumstances dictate that you need to accept any job that you’re offered. I want to persuade you that this isn’t actually the case. In fact, you need to think carefully about how you are going to approach applying for jobs. There are, broadly, two approaches you can take. Approach 1 - the institutional approach If you’re concerned about the status or location of a school then you will undoubtedly take the institutional approach. That is to say, you are interested in a school because it is that particular school. You may have family in the area, children in schools you don’t want to take them out of, or a house you love. Likewise, you may want to work in a prestigious school, for a particular Headteacher, or in the private rather than state sector. Approach 2 - the positional approach If you want to hold a particular position - Head of English, for example, then you may be less concerned about where you work. You may be more willing to travel further to get to work, even to relocate to secure that particular position. #getthatjob Each of these approaches place limits upon your job search. You may think this is a bad thing, but actually limits and boundaries are inherently good. They give you a focus, a clear method of approaching your job search. Problems come when you’ve either got too much or too little choice. It’s easy to deal with too much choice - you narrow down your options: • If you were previously willing to move anywhere for that particular position, you cut it down to a 25-mile radius around areas you know (where you currently live, were brought up, or went to university). • If before you wanted any type of school-based job, you decide what position(s) you really want. It’s slightly more difficult to deal with a situation where you haven’t got enough choice. Here, you need to prioritise. If you’re taking the institutional approach, then you need to consider taking a temporary position (a maternity cover, for example) in a school you’d like to work at. Once you’re there, it’s easier to persuade the Head of your talents. You’d be surprised at the number of people who are kept on - and subsequently given a more suitable role (or even promoted!) #getthatjob If you’re taking the positional approach, then you’re someone for whom showing logical progression on a CV matters. Remember, however, that a commitment to, for example, Science education doesn’t have to come solely from teaching that subject full-time in a school. Whilst you’re teaching another subject you could offer extra-curricular tuition in courses that the school doesn’t ordinarily offer. Failing that, you could: • Teach at a local college in the evening. • Get involved in organising whole-school days focusing on a theme relevant to where you want to go with your career. • Keep up a blog or create a website with relevant resources to the area in which you want to specialise. (You’d be amazed at the contacts you can make by doing this!) What’s important is that you see your career as a trajectory, as a journey with stopping-off points. Just as on that family road trip when you were a child, some of these stopping-off points may be more fun/productive/useful than others. Considered appropriately, they all get you to where you want to be! ______________ ★ RESOURCES Google Maps - http://maps.google.co.uk (find out how far it takes to travel to a school! #getthatjob 1.2. Where to look In the UK, almost all teaching-related jobs are advertised in the Times Educational Supplement (http://tes.co.uk/jobs). Almost all. There are some jobs that Headteachers don’t want to advertise in the national press. This might be because: • They don’t think it’s worth the expenditure (because it’s a temporary position, for example) • They need someone more quickly than the deadlines for the TES allow. • They’ve already got someone in mind for the job. You may think that if it’s the third reason then there’s no point in applying. Whilst it’s true that in this case you’d have to be even more obviously better than the person they’ve got in mind, it’s not impossible. By law, Headteachers have to advertise all jobs available in their school. However, ‘advertise’ is an ambiguous word. It can mean ‘put up a short note in the staff room’ as well as ‘take out a fullpage ad in a national publication’. Often, jobs will be advertised on council websites. In amongst the job adverts for refuse collectors and cleaners are scattered #getthatjob teaching jobs - potentially your perfect position! There are also circulars sent out to schools in the area listing all the teachingrelated jobs available that week/month/term. That’s why it pays to have contacts, people in schools who can let you know when jobs come up. It’s also why sending in a letter of application and your CV without being invited to can also work. Getting your foot in the door is the hardest part. Failing that, try doing some supply teaching. Whilst more and more schools are employing ‘cover supervisors’ (another position you may consider) there are still plenty that rely on supply teachers on a regular basis. The advantage of doing supply is that you get experience of lots of different schools. You get to sharpen up your behaviour management skills. You learn how to ‘brand’ yourself. You need to be reliable, efficient, and memorable. If gaining Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) is an issue, long-term supply can count towards this! ______________ ★ RESOURCES TES - http://tes.co.uk Directgov: Local Councils - http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Dl1/ Directories/Localcouncils/index.htm #getthatjob 2. Writing an effective letter of application 2.1. You are your own media outlet The best metaphor I can think of for what it’s like writing an effective letter of application for a teaching-related job is that you are your own media outlet. You decide on the content and the style. You decide on how your story is told. That being said, you must make sure you fulfil the criteria set out in the job advert. If it says ‘no more than two sides of A4’ it means just that. And don’t try to change the font size down to 8 to compensate - it doesn’t work! If it says ‘use the application form and do not enclose CVs’ then don’t send your CV. For some positions schools receive tens of applications. Headteachers are time-poor. They need a way to sort through applications quickly and efficiently. Many will use their Personal Assistant to filter out all those who haven’t done what they’ve been asked to do - including those that arrive late. A note, in parenthesis, on handing in your application by hand. Whilst this sounds as if it’s a positive step, I’d suggest that you #getthatjob don’t do this unless you’re certain it’s going to be a positive thing. Let me just list three things that could go wrong: • You meet the Headteacher and have nothing interesting to say and, whilst they’re dressed for business, you’ve got your jeans on. • Because you’re in a rush, or for some other reason, you come across negatively to the receptionist. They comment on this as they hand over the application to the Head or the Head’s PA. • Your application is handed into the office and put down somewhere (apart from the other, mailed-in, applications). It is subsequently misplaced and only turns up after the application deadline (when it will be ignored). It’s far better to post your application to the school. If it’s the day before, send it Special Delivery so it’s guaranteed to arrive before a certain time. One last tip: if you mark your envelope ‘Private & Confidential’ you pretty much guarantee that only the Head will open it - after all, it could be something from a parent about a particular student! If you are your own media outlet, then you need to think about how you’re going to come across to your audience. How are you going to stand out from the crowd? #getthatjob The font in which you’re reading this, and which I use on my blog is called ‘Georgia’. Why do I use this font? A few years ago I read that a study done at several universities showed that papers (of varying quality) were marked different depending on which font they used. Georgia came out top. Apparently, it’s close enough to the standard ‘Times New Roman’ to be acceptable to the conservative, whilst different enough to stand out. Little things make big differences. Remember, if you’ve got a blog or website, have been mentioned in a newspaper (available online) or are involved in something that is accessible on the internet, then mention it in your letter of application! Heads aren’t allowed to ask certain questions but they’re human - they want to know the following: • • • • What do you look like? Are you reliable? Are you married? single? divorced? in a relationship? How old are you? These are things that you can’t really put into your application. But any Head worth their salt will want to know about them and will follow links that you give them. It makes you a more rounded person, it makes you leap off the page, it makes them interested in you and your story. #getthatjob If, for example, I link to http://dougbelshaw.com (see next page) what could a Head find out about me? First of all, they can see immediately what I look like and ascertain how old I am. (Note: Iâ€™ve chosen the photo) If they really wanted to know how old I am, they could look at my Google Profile or LinkedIn profile which lists my age. #getthatjob I’ve indicated I’m married. Schools are conservative institutions and so for many Heads this is a positive thing. They’d be thinking I’m more likely to be stable and reliable. It’s an assumption, but our job is to get an interview, nothing more. If they want to find out any more about me, they can ‘go down the rabbit hole’ (so to speak) and follow the links I’ve provided. I’d recommend at least linking to something like a Google Profile in your application letter. Here’s mine: #getthatjob As you can see, I’ve connected pretty much everything I do online to my Google profile - my Flickr stream, Twitter account, Delicious links, Last.fm details, and so on. You don’t have to link absolutely everything: it’s your media outlet so you can decide what to feature there. The more time a Head spends reading your application and supporting information, the more likely they are to invite you to interview. This is the sole purpose of your application letter: to get you an interview. ______________ ★ SOME INFO TO THE END OF THE ARTICLE Toastmasters International: Tips & Techniques - http://www.toastmasters.org/MainMenuCategories/FreeResources/ NeedHelpGivingaSpeech/TipsTechniques.aspx #getthatjob 2.2. The art of embellishment Whilst I don’t have many problems in talking about myself or my achievements, I know many people who do. They find it difficult to ‘big-up’ what they’ve done, to embellish and slightly exaggerate what they’ve done. That’s not to say that I’m advocating lying. Certainly not. But that observed lesson in which you achieved ‘good with outstanding features’ could suddenly become a sentence that looks something like: “I have been observed regularly for Performance Management, being delighted with recently being graded ‘outstanding’ by my current Head of Department.” And those sporadic runs you go on when sometimes you have to walk? Well, that becomes: “I enjoy keeping fit, mainly through running. I am committed to a healthy lifestyle and modelling this to the students in my charge.” You haven’t lied. You are committed to a healthy lifestyle and you have been graded ‘outstanding’ (in some areas) - it’s the telling of the story that matters. #getthatjob A good exercise is to imagine that you’ve been invited to do a presentation or a workshop at a conference. As part of the process you’ve been asked to provide a short biography to go in the conference programme. These conference bios need to: • Be positive • Explain how you’re qualified for this position/talk/ workshop • Tell a story In other words, following this approach leads to the ultimate opening paragraph in an application letter! Ewan McIntosh is a teacher who has gone on to advise Learning & Teaching Scotland, Channel 4 and many organisations around the world. He has now set up his own company, No Tosh, and has a widely-read blog: http://edu.blogs.com The reason I’m mentioning Ewan is because he’s a past master at creating an online presence and writing conference bios. I’ve taken the following (see next page) directly from his company website: #getthatjob Ewan is one of Europe’s foremost experts in digital media for public services, particularly in education. He has worked with thousands of teachers across the world, in China, India, New Zealand, North America and Europe. He was also a key player in setting up one of the most ambitious investment funds from a public service broadcaster in the UK, himself making the call on investing over £1m in cutting edge and high impact digital media products. He is also the founder of 38minutes.co.uk, the creative industries platform for the North of the UK. In education, he helped set up and grow an active community of educators over a large school district, the adoption strategy of which has been replicated countless times around the globe. His understanding and application of the latest web, mobile and games technology also continues to influence policy and practice in the world of education, where his personal passions lie. Of course, when you’re writing a letter of application, you wouldn’t write in the third-person, but the principles are the same. #getthatjob Note how Ewan: • Quantifies what he’s done (where he’s worked, how much he’s invested, websites he’s founded) • Focuses on the positive. • Links to relevant online resources/pages (you can do this through footnotes) • Tells a story that makes you want to know more about him and what he does. In the next section we’ll be looking at how to put together an application letter. Before you move onto that, you might want to think about what you’d put into your conference bio! ______________ ★ SOME INFO TO THE END OF THE ARTICLE eHow: How To Write a Short Author Bio - http://184.108.40.206/search?q=cache: 46qGpjEnZVcJ:www.ehow.com/how_4785122_write-short-authorbio.html #getthatjob 2.3. Sample application letter Three years ago I wrote a post on my old blog entitled How to write an application for a teaching-related job. It continues to be by far the most popular post on that blog and is one of the reasons why I decided to write #getthatjob! The following, whilst borrowing heavily from that popular blog post, is informed by my subsequent experience - including moving into the Senior Leadership Team at a large Academy. Checklist for inclusion in any letter of application for a teachingrelated job: • Any specific things you have been asked to include in the letter. • Your academic track record. • The educational philosophy that informs your teaching • What you can bring to the role for which you are applying • Extra-curricular stuff you can offer Let’s see how that breaks down: 1. Put your name and contact details at the top of your letter of application, centred (address, phone, email, etc.) 2. Address the headteacher properly (check if they’re a ‘Dr’ for example) #getthatjob 3. List your positive qualities and your academic achievements. 4. Talk about how your studies inform your teaching, using phrases like ‘putting theory into practice’. 5. Mention your educational philosophy talking about, for example, the importance of ‘being an effective learner to be an effective teacher’. 6. Explain how you would approach the role to which you are applying. 7. Discuss specific issues to do with the post to which you are applying. Do your homework: read newsletters, inspection reports and the like! 8. Throw in some non-teaching aspects (being a tutor, running extra-curricular clubs, etc.) 9. Explain your reasons for applying for the position. Be positive. 10. Finish strongly - appeal to the Headteacher’s pride or ego. Quote what they’ve told you back at them! Let’s take a more concrete, although fictional, example. In passing, I’d like to mention that every letter of application you write, although it can be largely informed by others you’ve written before (and by this guide) should be specific to the school to which you’re applying. If you think that’s timeconsuming, you’d be right. But by doing so you’re massively upping your chances of getting to interview. And that, after all, is the whole point of the application letter! #getthatjob Let’s say that you see the following position that interests you: Teacher of History Oakway School, Sheffield A Teacher of History is required for September 20xx, owing to expansion and the opening of our new £5 million Sixth Form Centre. Oakway School is a brand-new 11-18 comprehensive serving the Meadowhall area of Sheffield. It currently has 2000 Years 7-12 students on roll and will grow to 2,500 students by September 2012. We are designated as a Specialist Humanities College and as such History enjoys a prominent position in the curriculum and is a popular choice for students at GCSE and A level. A recent Ofsted inspection rated the school as 'outstanding' or 'good' on every aspect. Behaviour, care, guidance and support and leadership were all graded as 'outstanding'. Oakway benefits from a lively and dynamic staff team and some of the best facilities of any school in the region. Opportunities for further promotion are excellent. Please contact Samantha Brown, PA to the Headteacher, on (00000) 000000 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details. From this advert we’ve discovered that: • The school has a specialism in Humanities • Ofsted think it’s a Good school with Outstanding features #getthatjob • They’ve got a new Sixth Form Centre and will have a full cohort of 11-18 for the first time next academic year • The school has some kind of commitment to staff development What should you do next? Head for the Ofsted report. See what the other side of the story is. You can access these for schools in the state sector at http://ofsted.gov.uk and for the independent (private) sector at http://www.isi.net. Once you have found the relevant inspection report you should look to find two positive quotations and two negative quotations that you can use in your application letter. Go to the school’s website. If it’s regularly maintained, you should be able to find a newsletter or some kind of details of recent events. Be prepared to reference a couple of these in your application letter and at interview. When you receive the application pack via post or email, think about what else you haven’t been able to find out that you’d like to know. Have they included GCSE results for History? If not, (politely) contact the school and ask for them. Also look at the #getthatjob type of words the school uses to describe itself and it’s staff. Note them down to re-use in your letter of application. The final thing you could do is to look at local newspaper reports about the school and/or do a Google search. It’s best to use quotation marks to get exactly what you want - e.g. This search might bring up things that the school isn’t so proud about or has neglected to mention. Behaviour on schools buses, the status of the school in the local community, controversy #getthatjob over planned extensions - these are all things that you won’t hear from the school itself! Once you’ve got all of the information ready, it’s time to write the letter of application. It’s best to do this in two stages - first of all brainstorm everything you want to say and arrange your notes into paragraphs. Go off and do something else, and then return to it to write it properly. That time in between is ‘processing’ time - either subconsciously or consciously. On the next page is a sample letter for the above, fictional position. See if you can spot everything above in action. (I’ve made up some of my attributes!) #getthatjob (Email Address) (Home phone number) (Your Address) (Date) Dear Mr Smith, I am an enthusiastic, creative and ambitious teacher writing in support of my application for the position of History teacher at Oakway School. Graduating from a BA (Honours) degree in History at the University of Edinburgh, I self-funded an MA in Modern History at the University of Nottingham before completing my PGCE at the latter institution. As part of my commitment to professional development and passion for learning, I am currently studying towards a further MA in Teaching and Learning on a part-time basis through the University of Sheffield. I have been part of whole-school initiatives at my current school, providing leadership on a recent ‘Curriculum Enrichment Day’. I believe that I have the qualities to put theory in to practice and to help make Oakway an ‘Outstanding’ school in all areas. I believe that to be an effective teacher one must also be an effective learner, which is why I continue to develop and challenge myself. Both through both my academic writing for my MA in Teaching and Learning, and the reflective writing on my blog 1, I seek to contribute to the establishment of 21st century pedagogies that will inspire, motivate and engage learners of all ages. My aim as a teacher of History at Oakway, 1 http://yourwebsite.com/blog #getthatjob therefore, would be to help establish and foster a positive community of practice and ethos. I am a keen user of educational technology and feel that it is an excellent tool for giving young people access to the types of primary sources that they would only previously have been able to see on field trips. I have spoken at the last three Schools History Project Conferences on the use of new technologies in History education. I greatly enjoy teaching across the age range in my current role. Last year I was given the responsibility for rewriting the Key Stage 3 scheme of work, transforming it into a more thematic longitudinal study in line with the new QCA guidelines. I was helped in this by being in contact with History teachers around the country whom I have met both face-to-face and online. Further up the school I have had success with my GCSE History classes, my most recent cohort gaining, on average, a grade higher than their predicted grade. I have been similarly successful in trialling new technologies to engage and enthuse learners at AS and A2 level. I am also an examiner at AS Level for Edexcel. As a keen footballer I was delighted to note that Oakway has not only top-notch facilities, but a long and glorious history of successful football teams. At my current school I have managed the Year 9 football team for the last two years. I would look forward to, if appropriate, taking up a similar role at Oakway. Having recently set up a popular Film Club at my current school, and noting that Oakway currently does not have one, I #getthatjob would like to explore getting involved as much as possible in the extra-curricular life of the school. I note in the school’s recent inspection report and the development plan that you kindly shared in the application pack that your focus over the next few years will be on Assessment for Learning (A4L). Having attended a number of workshops and led staff development sessions at my current school on A4L techniques I would be happy to share my expertise with colleagues at Oakway. If appointed and approval was given, I would look to start a weekly A4L newsletter to inform and equip both teaching and support staff. As an ambitious teacher my application to Oakway is motivated by two separate desires. The first is to gain experience in an overall more academically successful school so that I can progress to become Head of History and, eventually, Assistant Head in charge of Learning and Teaching. The second is that my family wishes to move closer to my parents. I grew up in Sheffield and therefore wish to return to my roots. In conclusion, Mr Abbott, I would hope to add to the pool of expertise and impressive reputation of Oakway School through my innovative approach to the teaching of History and infectious enthusiasm. Teaching is not about the dissemination of knowledge – although that, of course, is an aspect – it is about educating young people for the business of life. I would look forward to teaching and leading in, according to your recent Ofsted report, a school where students ‘really enjoy’ being there, there is an emphasis on ‘quality rather than quantity’, ‘there is a clear direction and impetus’ and where #getthatjob ‘leadership and management are good’. I would look forward to be where I can be part of a team providing a beacon of outstanding practice. Please consider carefully my enthusiastic application. Yours sincerely, (Your Name) This letter would run to around two sides of A4 if set in 12-point Georgia in portrait mode. It, or letters like it, have given me around a 90% strike rate when applying for jobs! ______________ ★ RESOURCES How to write a letter of application for a teaching-related job - http://teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk/index.php/2007/04/30/how-to-writean-application-letter-for-a-teaching-related-job/ #getthatjob 2.4. Submitting your application Once your application is ready, spellcheck it and then print it out and give it to someone to read. Take onboard their criticisms if useful - pay particular attention if something’s difficult to read or doesn’t ‘flow’ correctly. Sometimes it’s easier to read it out to someone to notice these tricky elements. When it’s completely finished, it’s time to send it to the school. I used to recommend that you post it rather than email, but schools have become much better at dealing with the latter in recent years. If you do decide to email it, do the following: 1. Save the document in the oldest Microsoft Word format available to you that still keeps the formatting (usually this will be Word 97/XP) 2. Save it with a filename that indicates the job and your name -e.g. ‘Teacher of History covering letter (Your Name)’ 3. Save it in PDF format. This is easy if you’re using a Mac. If you’re using Windows or Linux, search Google for ‘free PDF printer’. 4. Attach Both DOC and PDF versions of the application form (saved with a similar filename - e.g. ‘Teacher of History application form (Your Name)’) and the covering letter to the email before you compose it. This saves forgetting to attach them and looking like an amateur! #getthatjob 5. Your subject should be something like ‘Teacher of History application (Your Name) 6. The body of the email should be brief and ask for confirmation that they have received your application and can open the files. If the Head’s PA has sent you the application pack and signed it ‘Samantha Brown’ (as in the Oakway example) then you have permission to use her first name - e.g. Dear Samantha, Please find attached my application form and covering letter for the position of Teacher of History at Oakway School. I would be grateful if you could confirm that you have received this email and can open the attachments successfully. :-) Regards, Your Name http://yourname.com/blog Once you’ve done this, all you can do is sit back and wait for the email or phone call that you’ve got an interview!2 If you don’t get an interview then either (a) they had someone specific in mind and didn’t want strong competition, or (b) something in your application form or letter put them off. There’s no harm in asking them for feedback in this case. 2 #getthatjob 3. Strategies for interview success 3.1. Method acting One of the best pieces of advice given to me during my teacher training was that when in the classroom you should be ‘an enlarged version of yourself’. The same goes at interviews. Small interests become big passions. Smile a lot. Be interested and interesting. Without wanting to sound harsh, this may take some practice. So be a method actor! A method actor is someone who takes on the persona of the person he or she is playing in a film or play not just during filming or when on stage, but off-stage too. Robert De Niro is a famous method actor. On interview day, people expect you to be: • Nervous • A bit ‘stiff’ or wooden • Overly-eager to please The person who is confident, affable and yet who doesn’t exhibit these tendencies therefore stands out head-and-shoulders #getthatjob above the rest. That’s important on interview day for teaching interviews where the tradition is for candidates to be herded around together. By ‘method acting’ I mean: • Feel comfortable in your suit or the special clothes you are going to wear for interview. Wear them the day before and do some everyday activities so you don’t feel strange wearing them. • Act confidently and smile more than usual in your interactions with people in the days leading up to the interview. Get used to ‘enlarging’ yourself. • Teach lessons at your current school as though you were doing an interview lesson. Practice emphasising key points, building little recaps and plenaries into your lesson. Make the learning explicit. It’s usual to feel some butterflies in your stomach on the morning of your interview. This isn’t fear, it’s adrenaline. Tell yourself that you need this to excel during the day. ______________ ★ RESOURCES Method acting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Method_acting #getthatjob 3.2. Seven strategies Every person and every school is unique, but there are some strategies that can help you on interview day. Here are seven that I believe will help you: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Remember everyone’s name. Take a notebook and write down the name of everyone you meet. You should already know the names of people like the Head, the Head’s PA, the Head of Department, and so on. Write down some questions to ask the panel at the end of your interview. Feel free to add to these as you go around school and cross them off as they are answered. Remember that you are being interviewed all the time especially if, for example, you’ve been invited to have lunch with some of the members of staff. They’re weighing you up. Be human, but don’t give away anything negative about yourself. During the tour of the school mix-up your positioning. Sometimes be at the front asking at the questions; sometimes be at the back having a quick word with a student about what they’re up to. These quick interactions with students are great for throwing into the conversation during your interview. Interviews by the student council or representatives are very tricky. They have to not only like you as a person but feel that you will help them get good grades. Don’t even appear to be in the least patronising. #getthatjob 6. Think about what the obvious or easy thing would be to do with the topic they’ve given you to teach. Then use that as part of the lesson - the starter or plenary, for example, and push yourself for the main activity. Even if you crash and burn or the technology doesn’t work you’ll get brownie points for trying! 7. Be ready to talk about something over and above what you’ve put in your application letter. Have an ace up your sleeve - perhaps something you’re working on at the moment? ______________ ★ RESOURCES ‘Helen wants an Assistant Headship’ - http://www.teachers.tv/video/ 27286 TES Career advice - http://www.tes.co.uk/topSection.aspx? navCode=247 #getthatjob 3.3. The art of questioning It’s important not only to answer questions effectively, but to ask them. I remember one interview I was in where it was essentially the Head an I having a conversation about History. I’d found out that he’d gone to the same university as me. Although all of the interview questions were asked, I knew that I’d found what he was passionate about. I asked him questions back that allowed him to reflect on his own learning and experiences. Even if they don’t admit it, people love talking about themselves. In fact, people find out a lot about themselves simply by answering questions that no-one’s really asked them before. This self-discovery can play into your hands. Here’s some examples of questions I’ve asked that have paid dividends: • Your school currently achieves 90% A*-C at GCSE. Over and above the academic achievements of your students, what would you say the qualities of an Oakway student are upon leaving the school? • I noticed when we were going around that there are interactive whiteboards in all of your classrooms. What was the thinking behind that? #getthatjob • Thank you for including an interview with the student council. I found it illuminating! Has the student council improved the life of the school? • What do you see as the main reason for including History in the school curriculum? They will no doubt ask you something similar to the last of these, so it’s always good to throw it back at them! Sometimes the panel will give you the opportunity to say anything you haven’t had the chance to say during the course of the interview. Instead of saying ‘no’ or ‘I don’t think so’, tell them a story. Tell them how the position you’re interviewing for fits a logical progression for you. Tell them how you’d be perfect for the school. Smile, make eye contact, shake everyone firmly by the hand. ______________ ★ RESOURCES The Jobs & Interviews Pocketbook - available at Amazon.co.uk #getthatjob Conclusion I can be but the Sherpa on your journey. I have shown you a way, but you must climb to the top of the mountain by yourself. My final piece of advice would be for you to realise that schools are very flexible places, even if they do not appear so. I’ve been at interviews where Heads have appointed two people on a fulltime basis even though only one position was advertised. I’ve gone to a Head with a proposal and he’s asked me to write myself a job description. I’ve negotiated starting on a higher pay bracket because of my postgraduate qualifications. I’ve got the only room with an interactive whiteboard in the department. The secret? Be confident. Ask questions. Do your homework. Good luck! :-) #getthatjob Credits All the images in #getthatjob are used with permission. Some did not require attribution. The following were used under a Creative Commons license: • Colored pencils by Kain Kalju (http://www.flickr.com/ photos/kainkalju/3800001071/ & http://www.flickr.com/ photos/kainkalju/3800000811/) • Bullseye! by Gare and Kitty (http://www.flickr.com/ photos/gareandkitty/276471187/) • bullhorn by Duchamp (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ duchamp/15296832/) • Gilding the Lily by me’nthedogs (http://www.flickr.com/ photos/66176388@N00/3649708459/) • Antique German Continental Typewriter by Valeriana Solaris (http://www.flickr.com/photos/valerianasolaris/ 3626032099/) • Letter Box at Epworth Post Office by D H Wright (http:// www.flickr.com/photos/dhwright/321213819/) • Convergence (Explored!) by Sir.Mo (http:// www.flickr.com/photos/mmoosa/3501992313/) #getthatjob • Kathmandu, Nepal, Himalyas, Everest by ilkerender (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ilker/2494733608/) • No Going Back by Mariano Kamp (http:// www.flickr.com/photos/mkamp/2429091134/) • Question mark made of puzzle pieces by Horla Varlan (http://www.flickr.com/photos/horiavarlan/ 4273168957/)