Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Job Application technique

I had the pleasure of being involved in an interview panel for the first time and realised that interviews in the dept. had much to do with items outside of the classroom.  I have some advice for people doing interviews.

1) Selection criteria

Address the selection criteria in your cover letter.  If your cover letter does not address the selection criteria, you will not get an interview - each application is graded, if your application does not get a good grade it's tough luck.  Get your CV and cover letter proofed by someone that has successfully navigated the interview process recently.  Briefly mention critical documents for schools (AITSL's Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, DET's Focus 202x, Classroom First, ACARA's Australian Curriculum documents and objectives, the School's Annual report) but importantly only mention it if associated to teaching practices. Omit overly technical and scholarly diatribes unless requested, focus on what you have done and how it has impacted on student learning.  If you have taught specialist or stage 3 subjects state how many times and when.  Describe successes in these classes.

2) References

References are checked BEFORE interviews.  This is odd compared to private enterprise but is a valuable process in selecting interviewees.  Ensure that your reference is willing to give you a positive review.  If they are not, nurture someone that is willing to GLOW about you.

3)  RTFQ

Read the question.  Answer the question.  The application process is heavily weighted to the interview process.  Use the preparation time well to structure an answer.  If you don't actually answer the question you will not be employed.

4) Relax, be interesting and be confident

Look keen, but control your nerves and don't ramble.  Take a deep breath and use the water on the table to gather your thoughts.   This is a presentation, you cannot be monotone.  Especially in hard to staff schools, monotone teachers will not survive, monotone interviewees are unlikely to be selected.  There is a difference between putting a panel to sleep and carefully considering a question before answering.  If you have trouble thinking on your feet, prepare some situations beforehand that answer high criteria of Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.  Have a lesson prepared that you are proud of, that met learning outcomes and that you can clearly describe (don't use busy work!).  You need to wow the interviewers to gain a position.  They are looking for outstanding candidates.   Practice with a spouse or peer.

5) Be positive

If you put your negative points forward be sure to have a positive end to the story.  Don't give interviewers the opportunity to discount you for something that has been rectified.  A good application can be undone by continually discussing difficulties in the classroom.

6) Keep an eye on the time

Be aware that time is of the essence.  You need to be succinct and to the point to answer the interview questions.

7) Have some questions prepared for the end

If you end early, the panel will look to you for questions.  Have some prepared based on the context of the school.  It's probably a bad idea to ask about behaviour policies as that will indicate that you may have behaviour problems with your classes.

8) Theory
Know a little theory but use it sparingly.  Make your teaching look effortless not theoretical.

9) Include topical information
ICT, Australian curriculum, Professional Standards for Teachers and community involvement (grants obtained) are topics of today.  Have a case study of these prepared (but do not read directly from them in an interview).   Refer to notes to prompt your memory.

10) Motivation
Understand your motivation for applying for the role.  Ensure your answer is a win/win.  If it is not, suppress it and seek a win/win.

I think the applicant process has come a long way in identifying good applicants but has a long way to go to reach the easy manner in private schools and private enterprise.  The current process can be very formal, which (from experience) does not give a clear indication of the capabilities of teachers.  I would like to see the following:

a) Being clearly able to articulate requirements (eg 2 yrs stage 3 experience) in job advertisements to reduce the pool of applicants that will not reach interview
b) Reduced reliance on the formal interview process and more relaxed interviews
c) More focus on actual experience
d) Recognition that teachers are rarely in formal interviews and that good teachers are likely to interview and write applications poorly
e) A focus on whether a teacher can deliver a class rather than fluff associated with current fad practices.
f) Recognition that for some learning areas, "A type" personalities are not the only effective teachers.


  1. Cover letter makes the first impression of a person.This is such a blog full of informative info about cover letter for teachers.It's really a pleasure to me to have the blog.Many important info were collected from here.Thanks.

  2. Need to include to project into the role.

  3. This is true - I wrote an update of this when I applied for my current position. I have had some clarification on what this actually means which I should pass on and the techniques required to do it properly. It is very much a secret password to a DOE position.


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