The interview process for a typical teaching job is an intense and stressful experience. The interviewers that meet and greet you on the day will undoubtedly be all smiles. They will trot out statements such as, ‘We want you to enjoy the day,’ ‘This as much about you finding out things about us as it is us finding out about you’, or the old chestnut: ‘Just be yourself.’
And although being yourself is infinitely better than trying to be somebody you absolutely aren’t, being yourself and enjoying the whole experience is a tough ask!
From start to finish, the application and interview process is a draining one. It can be soul-destroying when the phone rings and you hear those horrible words:
‘I’m sorry, but you weren’t successful on this occasion.’
So, here are 5 reasons why you might get to hear those sickening words and didn’t get that teaching job.
Falling at the first hurdle – your application
Of course, the first reason that you didn’t get that teaching job could be that you didn’t get called for interview, so we really should deal with that first.
There are many reasons why you might not have been invited for interview. Too little experience, too much experience or just that there were other candidates that seemed to have more to offer on paper.
There is little you can do to counteract this other than making sure your application is perfectly written. Take great care in ensuring your application is watertight in terms of spelling, punctuation and grammar. You’d be surprised how many aren’t!
You should also do your very best to make an application tailored to the specific school you are applying for. This is difficult to do if you are applying for several teaching jobs at the same time. But avoid copying and pasting your generic application letter into each individual application. It will be spotted!
The dreaded internal candidate
Nothing is worse at the start of the interview day, as all the introductions are taking place, when it dawns on you that one of the candidates has actually come from upstairs and not through the front door of the school reception, and you realise that you are up against an internal candidate.
The heart sinks, your mind screams, ‘It’s a set up! This is so unfair!’ And, if truth be told, it sometimes is. But, success in any interview for any job is a lot down to the mind-set of a candidate. If you convince yourself from the start that it is obvious that the internal candidate is ‘going to get it’ – they probably will.
Interviews are uncomfortable for internal candidates too. And nothing is worse than being told ‘I’m sorry, but you were unsuccessful on this occasion’ if you are an internal candidate. They have to face their colleagues and students the next day, remember.
The interview lesson
Standard practice, of course, in interviews for teaching jobs is for candidates to have to teach a lesson. It’s an artificial process at the best of times and issues often occur due to poor logistical planning on the part of the school. After all, if a Year 10 class have just had one lesson on a certain topic, the last thing they are going to want is another lesson on the same topic! Is it best to go first or last? Is it best for it to be a 20 minute lesson or a full hour? There are many questions that arise.
It’s a minefield for sure. This is where the ‘just be yourself’ advice actually fits pretty well. Trying to be as natural as possible, not trying to do too much in the lesson, showing that you have subject knowledge, and that you can communicate and relate to young people is about the best you can do.
You are on interview all day
Remember, that the interview is not just a set of activities scheduled during the day – the introductory chat with the Head, the student panel, the tour of the school, the lesson, the formal interview, etc.
The interview begins from the moment you step through the door of the building to the moment you leave. The ‘informal chat’ with senior members of staff or coffee with the department is all part of the interview. Eyes are on you all day.
It’s not you, it’s them
Sometimes schools will make the wrong appointment. It happens. Equally, sometimes teachers accept the wrong jobs. Generally, if you don’t get offered the teaching job, it is simply because there was either because another candidate was better suited to it or it wasn’t really right for you anyway.
An interview for a teaching job really is a ‘two-way process’ and working at a school certainly is. If you didn’t get that job (unless you did something glaringly wrong on the day), it might mean that you need to try to sharpen your interview skills a bit – but often it will just indicate that the school wasn’t the right fit for you.
Just dust yourself down and go again.