Saturday, 5 July 2014

The One About The Interview: Part the First

I hope you forgive me, as this all occured over a short space of time in May, however the timing to write and post about this is just about right, right now.

A little context.

At the start of May I had decided to resign from my school (for reasons that are too complex and too sensitive to put on here). I had written the letter and handed it to my Headteacher without a job YET to go to. It was all getting rather frightening.  That same week I found a job advertised for a near-ish FE college wanting a 'Lecturer for GCSE and A-Level English' 0.7 of a full timetable. It was very appealing because it was a totally new educational sector to me AND it was part-time. I can honestly say I am totally drained from teaching a full time-table in Secondary Education for the last 12 years. I wanted this no more. I'd take a lower income over a higher one that invlved working in a way that is bad for my health.

The terror of teaching interviews....

OK, the sub-heading is a tad hyperbolic, but if you narrate the experience of a teaching interview to a non-teaching friend (I DO hope you have some of those, they do keep you grounded amongst the storm of education-land) they will look at you askance, whilst thinking about their own experiences of being sat in an office having a chat with people behind a desk.

So, for those of you unfamiliar with the process, I shall give you a quick run-down. So, here it is, "The Hunger Games" of job interviews.

1. Arrive, exhausted because you have not slept at all, and sign in at reception.
2. You'll sit and chat awkwardly and warily with the other candidates, asking questions about where they are from, how long they've taught etc.  It appears to be idle chit chat, but essentially, like Katniss Everdean, you are weighing up their strengths and weaknesses against your own.
3. Meet the head teacher or SLT member in charge of the interview day. They sat out their stall, or vision of the school. You are scrutinising their words for subtext and how often the word 'Ofsted' or 'Outstanding' is mentioned, they are scrutinising you like you are bacteria on a petri dish.
4.  A tour of the school is given by a chirpy pupil on the student council. You can look at the state of the school buildings, mooch past classroooms to see how ordered or not they are and interrogate, I mean chat, to the pupil about their opinion of the school and teachers.
5. You teach your lesson. This may involve two observers staying for the duration or a few people nipping in and out of your lesson. It could be part of a lesson, or a whole lesson (I prefer the latter). As with performance management lessons observations it is all highly contrived and even more difficult because you a) don't know the pupils in front of you b) you are controlling your nerves and urge to vomit bile into the nearest bin.
6. Break time - an 'un-assessed' part of the day (yeah, right) where you once more chat awkwardly with the competition and potentially meet members of the faculty you maybe working in.
7. Interview 1 - Student Council members will ask you various questions about you and you as a teacher.
8. Interview 2 - with a member of SLT or Head of Faculty discussing how your subject is run.
9. Lunch - where you force feed yourself the dinner provided whilst simultaneously trying not to regurgitate it out of stress. Then, like the Velocirapotors in "Jurassic Park" you once again suss out your competition, and your potential new colleagues. The Velocoraptoring (made up word) flows strongly between candidates and school staff.

If the field is large, it is here that some cutting of the wheat from the chaff may occur. Some will stay for the final interview with the Headteacher, SLT & governers, others will be sent home or may choose to pull out. If you are lucky, you can get interview feedback before trudging back to your car.

10. The final interview with the Headteacher, SLT and governers - which can feel like being up a gainst a firing squad. not always, but it is nevertheless intimidating.

11. You wait, and wait, and wait, to find out who has been appointed. The first person called for in the staff room will be the sucessful candidate. The rest of you do the 'Leonardo Di Caprio: I'VE STILL NOT WON AN OSCAR' smile and nod.

12. You make your way home. Get home, eat whatever comes to hand, and like HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey slowly power down as the stress adrenaline leaves your body, and you...are...utterly....exhuasted. And lo! You begin an epic 12 hour sleep.

So, this is what I know of teaching interviews. Sometimes I have coped admirably, sometimes I have been utterly overwhelmed by nerves s and anxiety (the Huntington interview last academic year was definitely that) and sometimes it's all rather serendipitous and goes swimmingly.

THIS is merely for a classroom teacher's position. A Headteacher's interview can last at least two days, imagine, TWO whole days! Actually, don't imagine, read Keven Bartle's blog, 'Secruing Headship as a Member of SLT' here or talk to @ChocoTzar who got through an equally gruelling two day Headship interview in Bristol, whilst in the throws of the most EVIL of stomach bugs. Heroic, no?

Preparation the Twitter way: The Application

The application for this post was all online - sometimes it saved my content, sometimes it didn't, so sometimes I wanted to throw my laptop out out of the window. The 'data' part of the process (qualifications & work history) I had grown quicker at, although it still felt laborious. The nub of the application still rests on your personal statement (or application letter if done the old school way), and thanks to quite a few previous applications and LOTS of input from @deadshelley and @Xris32, I had quite a few versions of a letter of application to draw on. The structure and body of the personal statement came from these previous drafts while the opening and ending paragraphs that book-ended the statement or letter, were edited more specifically to suit the place I was applying to and the post I was applying for.
  Cheekily, I once again drew on the help of @deadshelly and badgered new Twitter chum @tstarkey1212 (an FE stalwart of many years) to check though my personal statement. I had some useful feedback from Tom Starkey about tweaking the letter to show awareness of the FE framework and how my Secondary School background would be advantageous to a move into FE. That done, the statement was copied and pasted into the online form and I clicked 'submit' a good 48 hours before the Friday deadline. Then gulped.

Part the second to follow in the next blog post.

1 comment:

  1. I'd like to share some information, which can be very useful for students. As for me, I don't like writing but I'm a student and I must write essays very often. But there is a very reliable essay writing service, which can help with your college essay writing: