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Stage 2 – Applications

"You never get a second chance to make a first impression" - Will Rogers

Job Advert

Often job adverts are not seen as part of the induction process, which is not the case. 

This is the time when a potential teacher notices your school, how you operate, how you treat your staff, and how you communicate. 

This website does not go into detail on how to advertise but spending time on the job advert ensuring that you sell your values, how you value your staff, and how you want the new staff to be a part of your success is crucial. 

Are you going to use the same old advert you use every year, use the same advert for each section of the school but change the job title… this happens more than you would believe! 

 

Some tips on writing a great job advert:

  • Opening Line – this is a single succinct and interesting paragraph that gives three to five details applicants will find most exciting about the job. Picture how newspapers hook you into reading the full article.
  • Not too wordy but not too brief.
  • How will the teacher be better by working at your school? 
  • How will families/couples/single teachers enjoy living in your location?
  • You want to ensure safeguarding is clear in your post.
  • Divide into these areas: job title, start date, working days including time, benefits, requirements & skills, responsibilities, and school or agency description.
  • Attractive with images which are ‘real’ images and not faked, or photoshopped.
  • Developing an ideal teacher avatar is an important step in the recruitment process because it will help you create a job advertisement that speaks directly to the kind of teacher you want.
  • Add social media profiles.
  • Use progressive language eg. “native language” not “mother tongue” and “children with disabilities” not “disabled children”, “children” not “kids” (kids are baby goats in English).
  • Under promise, over deliver! You should not put anything on the advert, or offer at any part of the applications process, that is not true. 
  • Including career development and CPD in an advert has been found to increase the number of applications received particularly in Generation X and Y teachers. 
  • Check every error possible – this is THE first impression the candidate/potential employee has of you. 
  • Put yourself in the shoes of the applicant. What would you be looking for in a job and the school, if it was you applying.

You need to reply to any application within 48 hours – even if this is just a holding email – the applicant is likely to have put a lot of time and effort into that application before it was sent! 

Safeguarding

Once of the first things to consider when beginning to plan the application stage is how are you ensuring that you are keeping your children at school safe and discouraging potential threats from being recruited?

Having very high safeguarding standards (many documents to assist are listed here which are a great resource) and demonstrating this to anybody wishing to join your school, work at your school or visit your school. Research has shown that by stating your high standards and current checks, potential threats are greatly reduced. 

In your application there should be a statement about child safeguarding and many schools now put a statement at the footer of each email. 

My current school states this at the bottom of each email: 

“The health, safety and well-being of young people are of paramount importance to all the adults who work at (school name). Children have the right to protection, regardless of age, gender, race, culture, sexual orientation, or disability. They have a right to be safe in our school. Members of staff in the school have a legal and moral obligation to safeguard and promote the welfare of the pupils, taking all reasonable steps to protect them from harm whether from physical injury, abuse, neglect, emotional harm, or from anything that interferes with their general development.”

Feel free to edit and develop this as part of your safeguarding awareness. 

Personalise

One thing is for certain; good quality candidates are highly-unlikely to be just interviewing with your school. Your position needs to be attractive, not late in the day when other schools have taken all the great practitioners, and personable to the person applying. 

One of the worst things an application who has spent a serious amount of time researching your school and writing a letter of application is to get a reply of: 

“Dear applicant…”

“Dear Sir/Madam…”

Dear Tom (wrong name!)

What does this tell you about your school? About how you communicate?

This is such a simple step that takes only an extra few seconds to write the applicants name. Yes, schools get many applicants, but even the staff who you do not interview will talk about you. Do you want to be the school that took over a week/month after the deadline to respond? That got my name wrong? From experience, I know very big schools who get hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants each year do very well. 

Another good piece of advice is to not leave the reply to the application longer than 24/48 hours. Do you want them to have forgotten, or think you do not care about their application? 

Applicants spend a lot of time, hours if they are truly interested in your school, so why not show them the respect that this time and effort deserves and personalise your response with their name and in a good timely manner! 

If HR are communicating with applicants how do you want them to reply? Formally? Full messages? Friendly? With emojis? Be very specific with HR with potentially a pre-written blurb. This could be the first contact the applicant has with your school. Also, check the formatting of emails. 

If you want to go one step further in your reply and really wow candidates put a short sentence in your reply with what you like about their application, what stands out in their CV. This will get applicants talking about your school with friends and colleagues even if they do not get offered an interview!

It is unlikely that the candidate has only applied to your school. An excellent practitioner will likely have numerous offers so do not think that in recruitment it is the school that holds all the power. Impress! 

Finally, before you send any communication to an applicant double-check the details. As above, do not get their name wrong, and check the dates and times you are sending to them. 

Interviews

When thinking about interviews from my own experience three stick out in my mind. In one interview the headmaster wore an open-neck shirt and picked his nose whilst we were talking online. On the other end of the relaxed spectrum was a headmaster who was incredibly cold, showed no knowledge of my background from my CV, and fired rapid academic questions at me with little or no passion. I did not take the job offer from either of these headmasters! I believe that you need to strike a balance between these two head teachers. One such interview was with a headmaster in Brazil who upon greeting me online stated he could not employ me. When I asked why he stated it was because I supported the football team who were rivals of the team he supported. This humour instantly put me at ease. The head then went on to state how he could see me fit into his team seamlessly, had clearly done his homework on me and showed much passion for education. This interview sold the school to me and I was delighted to accept. 

21st century interviews

This is the first time the candidate gets a feeling for who you are and what your school stands for beyond written text and images on a computer. Do you see an interview as a quick-fire memory test? If so, continue with the ‘traditional’ interview style. 

A more modern approach to interview is to put the interviewee at ease and seeing how they talk about their strengths and weaknesses. You are sizing up the candidate when you talk to them, but as mentioned already, they are doing exactly the same to you. 

Here are some tips to create a more ‘friendly’ way to interview:

– Make the first question one they can not get wrong and not about education. For example “I see your from London, what’s your favourite place to visit?” or “I see your passionate about books. Tell me about the book you are reading right now?” This will allow the candidate to open up. 

– Send pre-interview topics/questions 30 – 60 minutes before the interview so the candidate has time to prepare some answers. 

– Whilst experience is important it is not the most important thing! Patrick Lencioni wrote a great book titled “The Ideal Team Player” in which he proved the three characteristics you should recruit any member of staff for are: Humility, Hunger and (People) Smarts

– Be completely transparent – if you lie in the interview this can create a lot of bad feeling upon arrival. At one school I worked in the headteacher had informed the staff member that the school had a riding club as it was the applicants daughter’s hobbie. The headteacher also stated that there was very little need for EAL support. No such riding club existed and the school had 80% EAL children. Upon arrival the staff member was furious and demonstrated how little trust she then had for this leader and the school. Not the best first impression! 

– Any interview is tough for any applicant. One teacher stated in my research that schools are ‘holding the lives of teachers and families in their hands.’ So, show the applicant you appreciate their time and energy in the interview with a quick thank you email after the interview is over and be prompt with your decision.  

Staff Visits

Some schools will fly staff out for interviews or if staff are in the local area a visit and tour of the school. This may be done before or after the offer has been accepted. If a member of staff comes onto your campus here are a few tips for ensuring you wow that member of staff:

– Ensure the security team know that the individual or family are arriving and there they should go. 

– All your staff should be aware of their arrival and their names. One school I visited I was blown-away by how personable they were. The security team, receptionist and a number of the teacher knew my name and what school I was from. 

– Ensure the headmaster gives the individual or family a moment of his time. 

– Buy their lunch and if your cafeteria is great, show it off! 

– Show them lessons and let them to meet other members of staff without you being there.

– Ask about their family, their interests. 

– Show them a typical dwelling if possible. 

– Allow time for questions. 

– Send them off with a small gift – it may be a little school teddy bear for their children. 

Information Sharing

At this stage you need to consider what information you will share with the applicant. Here are a list of things at this stage you could consider sending. Remember, you want to demonstrate you are as transparent as possible and not hiding anything from the applicant: 

– Full job description for the applied role (if not done so already)

– School Development Plan

– Salary Scale

– Living in (you town/city/country) Guide

– Topics to discuss at interview (see above)

– Videos of staff describing working/living at your school (if not on your website already)

– Many schools open a Google Drive or OneNote folder with a range of policies and documentation staff would need such as visa forms, child enrollment forms etc. 

Buddy Training

One area that is crucial to the success of the buddy programme is the need to train your buddies ensuring they are fully aware of what is expected of them and how they can be successful.

Social Buddy 

This would be somebody who has a similar homelife to the new member of staff in terms of family arrangements. Suggestions have been offered that you would call this type of buddy as the Singapore Buddy, or the Bangkok Buddy so that it takes away the idea that you must socialise with the new member of staff. Also, you would want to consider if you want the buddy and the new staff member in the same department. If they are not then they may not see much of each other but being in a different department may assist with different perspectives other than being cocooned into one department of the school. 

Academic Buddy 

Usually the Head of Department, Year Leader or an experienced teacher within the same key stage. Their role is to help the new staff member navigate the curriculum and philosophy of learning at your school. They will assist with planning formats, styles of teaching and to answer questions related to learning within your school. 

Click here for a slide presentation you can share with your social buddies during their training outlining reasons for being a buddy and how they can be successful.

Click here for buddy guidelines you can share with your staff.