My experience at Teach First………..’s interview

“Please don’t share this with anyone; it can set to be a disadvantage or an advantage for them”

That’s what I heard, not sure how many times, but definitely one thing, at least something, that stuck to me. I hope that makes sense.

So, to elaborate, that means…giving advice to future candidates preparing for the assessment centre will give them an advantage over some (which is not fair), however, it could also set them at a disadvantage as they continuously change scenarios (again…not fair). Therefore, I, Fatima Begum, will solemnly swear, that I will not give specific details about the scenarios, however, as a kind hearted individual, will give out hints (so to say). Besides, more info can be found here, here, also here and oh look…also here. Why not peruse this article for some opinions? And yes, there are many more, but here’s my first hint, one of the above links sets out exactly what I experienced.

I began my application, filled out the easy part, although still long, and left the ‘explain a time…’ questions for last. And then I put it off for a month and went off to perform Hajj (the BEST experience EVER). Got an email and phone call stating my subject area, History, was coming to a close…so sat down and just typed typed typed! SUBMIT. Many do mention that they’ve had to think hard and long about the questions, I’d just say, take FULL advantage of your recruitment advisor and if you’ve ever taken the ‘leadership’ role, then the examples should come easily. As soon as I start forgetting about it, I receive an email inviting me to the AC.

Ok, now I move to the part where I did not perform so well….

As the recruitment advisor will tell you, and the website, and the many many forums that exists, the day is split into 3: Interview; Case study; and Lesson.

I want to fast-forward to the Lesson. Yes, the topic arrived a week before the interview, and yes, even though a History graduate, it happens to be a question/topic that I’ve never studied before, and, finally, yes, I spent more time researching than preparing….but it took me only  roughly a day to prepare everything. More time was spent practising to keep everything under 7 minutes than anything else. Had friends Skype me to act as ks3 children!!! But ‘wow!’ the nerves added with the adrenaline rush made me enjoy it rather than worry about my performance. Also, by now, I was neither all too keen to work for them nor expecting to receive an offer, so rather have fun and enjoy it than be concerned about staying in the time limit. Though would add, always give 100% even if you’re having second thoughts.  Hint number two: annoying ‘pupils’ with one acting as if they don’t know anything!!! Now you probably understand what I’m trying to say….keep at least 1 minute dedicated to sorting out the behaviour issue. But it was fun.

Now moving back to the start of the day….the interview, oh the interview interview interview…

Some candidates definitely had nice interviewers and I must admit my one was cheery at first sight, welcoming too I’d add…..but not all meetings stay pleasant. What words would I use, without using a thesaurus that is? Well: patronising… intimidating… false… I would go on, but I don’t tend to attack a person’s personality. But in simple terms, when someone starts writing everything you say down, you do start to get slightly nervous, when they refuse to take more than one example (usually writing down the first example that comes into your head), you start regretting what you’ve just said. And when someone pushes you to give an answer that only they’re satisfied with (“what do you want to do after 2 years?” “I want to be a fully qualified History teacher” “No, 2 years after this Leadership Development Programme?” “After 2 years I do actually want to be a teacher” “Let me put it another way as you’re not answering the question. After 2 years teaching in this programme, what do you plan to do?” “Um, ok, I plan to do my phD and become a university lecturer.” “There we go, now you answered it” (scribble scribble, scribbling some more. FULL STOP!). Oh look, there’s my third hint. Then a scenario and time limit…now neither I mentioned the scenario nor how long you have…they may even take it out next time, but just remember you are a teacher and your responsibilities as a teacher! Also, check out the links above. But, again, scenarios may change! Wow, there’s my fourth hint!

I know that was a bit confusing Anyways, I didn’t enjoy it at all, and could go on and on, but it’s getting too long already.

Finally, moving onto the Case Study. Many forums, would state to you to be careful of dominant characters, I totally agree! But to be honest, how do you prepare to overcome this? What do you do that won’t seem rude or aggressive? These questions are unanswerable on my part, so apologies for that. However….when you make your point, be sure that it’s a good one, and DO NOT (here’s me pleading) be put off by the 2 assessors in the room, because you may not get another chance. Make sure that you’re the one keeping the time, and pointing out to answer the question rather than just discussing the order. Read thoroughly the booklet, and if you believe in something, stick with it! There we go, my fifth and final hint!

I would like to end with…Teach First is not a bad org to apply for, and certainly, there will be criticisms put forward against it, but the outcome seems positive. Besides, I’m always a supporter of an org (not-for-profit) that provides education to those in need!! But do your research before applying…did you know that they joined with Teach for America (set up in the 1990s) and created another global org called Teach for All in 2007? Also, Teach First actually began in 2002.

Anyways, I was once told by an individual, that if you don’t keep up with your blog (basically a regular blogger), it may come across as being lazy. Of course, this ‘individual’ was a close friend, with a journalistic background, so I’ve decided to take her advice on board…so what better way to make a comeback than by blogging my experience at Teach First….’s interview (of course)?

(Typed but not checked!)

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