`So, why do you want to work in this schoo.zzzzz'

17th April 2015 at 01:00
TES recruitment survey reveals teachers' hiring horror stories

Members of the interview panel falling asleep; having your job offer withdrawn because the school has mixed you up with someone else; being told to teach a trial lesson in the wrong subject; being asked if you are a cross-dresser.

These are just some of the nightmare experiences of school staff applying for jobs. One teacher reported being interviewed for a job overseas by a person who was smoking cannabis, while another recalled a headteacher who was "clearly drunk" during the interview.

The catalogue of incidents is revealed in the TES guide to recruitment, a comprehensive examination of the best and worst parts of the hiring process, published today.

Almost 2,500 people took part in the survey, answering questions ranging from what they looked for in an advert to whether they had ever turned down a job.

And the study throws up some surprising pet hates among teachers. Many dislike adverts that specifically ask for "outstanding" teachers, believing either that this should be selfevident or that it places undue pressure on recruits.

Many also shun schools that describe themselves as outstanding, preferring to work for those that are in more challenging circumstances.

The survey reveals that the most important consideration for job-hunting teachers is location, followed by level of responsibility. A school's reputation is further down the list of priorities, coming in fifth (see panel, below left).

The most popular motivation for teachers in seeking a new opportunity is career progression (named by 40 per cent of respondents), followed by being unhappy in their current role (20 per cent), wanting to work at a better school (17 per cent) and geographical reasons (16 per cent).

And although teachers applied for an average of four posts the last time they changed jobs, they wanted only two of them, submitting the other applications "just in case".

A lesson in how not to recruit

The survey also highlights teachers' horror stories, many of which revolve around the interview lesson. For example, there was the geography teacher applying to be a head of humanities who was asked to teach a history class - and then criticised for lack of subject knowledge.

Then there was the teacher who was told to prepare a lesson for sixth-formers only to find that they would be teaching Year 9s. And there was the applicant who was tasked with teaching a GCSE revision session to a class who had sat the exam a week earlier.

A number of teachers found that all the candidates had been asked to teach the same lesson to the same class on the very same day.

"Those poor students probably had the most boring morning of their school career," said a French teacher who went fifth and last. "Needless to say, my feedback was that the pupils didn't really learn anything new from my lesson."

Evidence from the TES survey suggests that some schools are failing to adopt the appropriate attitude to interview lessons. Several respondents said the promised observer never turned up, leaving them feeling as though they had been used as a free supply teacher.

A number of teachers reported that members of the panel fell asleep during their interview, or were fiddling on their phones.

There were also some bizarre interview questions. One teacher was asked how they would compensate for their kind eyes. An unusually tall candidate was asked how they would respond to the suggestion that they played basketball. A third teacher was repeatedly grilled about their interest in cricket, while another was asked if they were a cross-dresser.

But most agonising of all was the candidate who was told over the phone that the school would be delighted to offer them the job.except another candidate had so much experience they couldn't turn them down. "It was (unintentionally) cruel to make me think I'd got the job and then snatch it away after only a split second," the teacher said.

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