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Getting a Teaching Job – A Guide for Newly Qualified Teachers (Part 2)

Guide to Getting a Teaching Job (Part Two)

The selection process for teaching jobs is very rigorous. Read on for information about what to expect and get some top tips on how to get the teaching job you deserve.


In part one of Guide to Getting a Teaching Job we covered every stage from job hunting to filling out the application form. Now, it’s time to give you some insight into what happens once you have successfully jumped the first few hurdles.

How will the school contact me?

Usually, schools contact applicants by mail. On one occasion I received a phone call to invite me for interview and despite having submitted applications by email, I never once received an invitation for interview or a rejection via email.

What will the selection process involve?

The selection processes for teaching jobs generally consist of two – three stages:

Stage 1 is usually a lesson observation for which the school will schedule at a time and date around one week from the date you receive your invitation letter. Sometimes, this could be even sooner. Often, the year group you will be invited to teach is specified in the invitation letter but on rare occasions, I had to call to get this information from the school. Observations can require you to teach for as little as twenty minutes but one hour seemed to be the norm.

Stage 2 will be an interview with a panel of three or more people. More often than not, I was interviewed by the school‘s head teacher, deputy head teacher and a member of the governing body. Interviews are offered to those applicants who impress during the stage 1 and they generally seem to last around 30 minutes. Usually, they take place a few days after the lesson observation.

Sometimes, prospective teachers can also face an interview by a group of pupils, normally the school council. This seems to be quite rare though as I was only ever invited to be interviewed by pupils on one occasion. This interview never ended up taking place as the school were forced to cancel interviews due to something about their obligations to abide by agency worker regulations.

What subjects will I have to teach for the lesson observation stage?

As you might expect, you are usually required to teach English or Maths to a whole class. Schools might tell you what aspect of English or Maths they would like you to teach but they might also leave it up to you. For lesson observations I went through, I taught lessons on data handling, 3D shape, creative writing and even Ghanaian music. Of course, I always preferred the ones where I had more freedom to choose what I taught.

How do I go about preparing for a lesson observation?

Thorough preparation is crucial to success in lesson observations but it is also important not to over prepare. After all, it is unlikely you would have taught the class before so you wouldn’t want to spend too much time planning for a very unpredictable situation.

It is wise to do your homework by phoning the school to get information about the class. Most schools I contacted were more than happy to provide information about the number of children in the cohort, the number of children who have special needs in the class and whether or not there would be any adults supporting the children.

Once you have gathered information about the class you will be teaching, write a lesson plan and be sure to include all the vital elements of differentiation, outcomes and objectives. Timing is a critical element of these lessons too. Observers will want to see you make the most out of each minute think carefully consider how you will time the lesson and think about what you and supporting adults will do at each stage of the lesson.

Finally, it’s important to show your personality. You need to win the children over so make sure you plan a lesson that is as interesting as possible and be firm, fair and fun on the day.

Phew! Lesson observation is done. What now?

You should soon hear from the school about whether or not they want to see you for the interview.

I’ve got an interview! What should I wear?

It’s always best to dress formally and business-like. Men should definitely stick to suits and ties and appear well groomed and clean. It’s common sense really!

So what typically happens at an interview for a teaching job?

Like any other type of interview, the experience normally begins with the candidate waiting nervously around the reception area to be invited into the interview venue which is normally an office or conference room somewhere within the school. Sometimes you might be invited to the school’s library for your interview but it obviously depends on the facilities available to the school on site.

Upon entering the interview room, you are likely to be greeted by the head teacher and the deputy as well as a member of the governing body. For church schools, there may well be a representative from the local parish on the panel too.

The interview procedure will be explained to you at the beginning. They will tell you how many questions you’re going to be asked and how long the interview is expected to last. In my experience, the interviewers were always very friendly and welcoming.

What questions might they ask?

It is impossible to predict exactly what they will ask but it is highly likely they will include questions about your experience and knowledge. Expect questions about safeguarding in the context of hypothetical situations too.

Some examples of questions/tasks I faced were:

Tell me about a successful lesson you taught.
What safeguarding measures did you see as you walked to the interview room?
In your previous roles, what initiatives did you lead and what impact did it have?

It is important that you are succinct yet detailed in your answers. A head teacher who was kind enough to offer me in depth feedback about my interview technique advised that I ask myself ‘so what?’ after each response so as not to leave the panel in any doubt over the value of my experiences.

How long can I expect to wait to hear anything after the interview?

It depends. Sometimes you will hear from the school the very same day whilst other schools may keep you waiting a day or two. It was never normally longer than a couple of days in my experience.

I got the job!

Congratulations! All your hard work has paid off. Now it’s time to relax a little before preparing for the gargantuan task of class teaching that lies ahead. Keep an eye out for Songs for Teaching’s guide to Your NQT Year.

I didn’t get the job…

Don’t worry. The selection process for teaching jobs is very rigorous and you certainly can’t win them all. Follow the old adage ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,’ and learn from each interview experience. Don’t give up and remember to enjoy your life as it is now. Supply teaching isn’t a bad gig, you know?

By | 26 April, 2015 | Blog

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