Interviews – first impressions count!

We are well into the season that all those on fixed-term contracts and those coming to the end of training dread – the ‘look for a job’ time. It can be a thankless task if you live in an area that has few vacancies or are a generalist teacher where specialists are needed.
Obviously, the application letter, CV or authority forms are the first port of call for prospective employers. Short listing can take a good few hours if the field is large but hopefully the process to reduce numbers is robust enough to provide a good quality contest.
An article from Alan Newland ( via Creative Education) discusses the part that appearance can play in the success or failure of a teacher gaining employment and I was reminded of an experience I had interviewing candidates for a primary class teacher. In the article, weight, smoking and even body piercings are mentioned as possible barriers to employment. Is it acceptable for children to be taught by someone who smells of cigarettes or is covered in tattoos? Certainly the body piercings may be a health and safety issue for the wearer especially in a primary classroom.
Back to my experience which was interviewing NQTs for a lower primary post. As often happens we had them working with children. They were all very good sessions, engaging the children from the start with clear objectives and learning outcomes and lots of crawling around the floor! I was accompanied by members of my SLT – one male, one female to observe and we were all very impressed by what we saw.
When we got together to review the candidates, one factor stood out for us all and that was the view of one of the interviewees’ back-side every time she bent down. Try as we could to put it to one-side, this unfortunate revelation  just kept coming back into the discussion.
‘After all’ one said, ‘She knew what she was going to be doing. She should have thought about it.’
Luckily for us, there was a better candidate who also had no additional ‘dress-code’ mistakes to be considered. It may not have been the case though and the other candidate may have not been appointed because of it. That is not to say it is correct but it does happen.
Remember the saying that ‘First impressions count’. You may want to show your unique personality but you need to keep in mind that those who are making the decisions may not be ready for a way-out approach. They will want an excellent teacher so the prime objective is to show them that is what you are and secure that job. There will be plenty of time to show the real you – at interview may just not be that time!


Secret identity by Juria Yoshikawa on Flickr

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  • I interviewed one person who kept checking his phone every two minutes. I was tempted to surrptitiously send him a text reading “You haven’t got the job. Good day!”

  • Jacqui

    I just submitted my letter saying I was interested in teaching at my school another year. Every year for ten years, this is what I’ve done. They never give us two year contracts–just one. And every years I worry. I’ve been through six principals in that time! How to make them all happy.
    Oh well, I’ll know in about a month.

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