Soapbox - Our recruitment process is absurd

26th September 2008 at 01:00
Every week your chance to shout about what makes you happy, sad or mad .

Earlier this year I spent a couple of months trying to secure a new teaching post. It made me wonder why applying for teaching jobs has to be so painful and humiliating. Everyone I've spoken to tells me that's just the way it is. But why can't schools make a few changes?

First, each applicant should receive an email on receipt of their application. The token line that "applicants who have not heard within six weeks can consider their applications unsuccessful" is ridiculous. We live in a technology-driven world. It doesn't take long to send an email saying when shortlisting will take place.

Once, I had an hour-long conversation with a head where we discussed my experience and I was encouraged to apply. But the school then didn't contact me, even when I left a message asking for feedback. It's just unprofessional.

Secondly, the practice of sending applicants home halfway through the interview process should be stopped. At one school I went to, six people were invited to an interview, and then four were sent home at lunchtime.

I once travelled nearly 400 miles to an interview, with the possibility of being cut halfway through. Schools should let applicants complete the process out of courtesy. At the same time, travelling expenses should be offered, not hidden from interviewees in the vain hope that they will not submit their expenses form.

Then, once the formal interview process has finished, all candidates should be allowed to leave the premises. There are still too many schools that make you sit around in a room with all the candidates while they work out who they want to employ. I once sat around with five other candidates for nearly two hours. What's wrong with leaving a contact number?

There was a happy ending for me: I was offered the third job I interviewed for. But the system needs an overhaul. Friends and family in other professions are regularly gobsmacked by the absurd and archaic recruitment processes in education.

Paul Adams is a secondary science teacher in Hertfordshire.

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