From CVs to interview lessons: 9 top tips for applying for teaching jobs as an NQT

Pen on blank page of note book

 As the final term of the year gets into full swing, many student teachers will be turning their attentions to job applications for newly-qualified teacher (NQT) roles.

Job hunting is stressful enough, but it's especially so for those new to the profession. How can you impress headteachers when you don't have years of experience and results to fall back on? And what do they look for?

We ask some senior school leaders to share their tips and insights. Got any advice to add? Tweet us @EdCentral or comment below.

School research

Deciding to work in a school is a two-way process so it is a really good idea to spend time looking at the school website and, if possible, visiting the school to find out whether it is somewhere you want to work and who will support you in your teaching journey.

The website will also give you lots of information that you can use to support your application – things about the school you have read/noticed and what you feel you can contribute to the school in these areas if you are appointed.

Mary Isherwood, headteacher, Camberwell Park Specialist Support School

Look at the latest Ofsted report, paying careful attention to the areas to develop. Consider how you would contribute to whole-school improvement, for example, if one of the school's targets is to improve attainment in reading for boys at key stage 2 (KS2), discuss reading interventions or after-school book clubs that you have (or intend) to implement and how this will improve learning.

If the school's Ofsted report is more than four years old, prepare for an inspection. Do you want that additional scrutiny during your induction year?

Gemma Williams, assistant headteacher, Woodberry Down Community Primary School (@woodberrydownN4)

Visit the school before you apply. It will give you a really good insight into the school's ethos, as well as an opportunity to meet potential colleagues and children. Visit between 2:30 and3:30pm if you want to see what the environment is really like. There's nothing more off-putting than seeing little Ben trying to escape out of the classroom window or Tyesha using the bookshelves as a bouldering wall.

Gemma Williams

Your teaching job application

Schools are inundated with applications, especially around the summer term, so make your CV stand out.

Your experience as a classroom teacher at this point is limited so promote your other skills but be careful; potential employers don't need to know about your Saturday job in Greggs.

Gemma Williams

I think first and foremost, the covering letter needs to demonstrate the passion and enthusiasm you have for the job. What makes teaching amazing? Start with that.

Don't discount non-teaching experience you have had: I got my job as an NQT in the last week before the May half term in 2008. I remember after my interview, the head of history said to me, "You ticked a box for everyone on the panel."

One of the boxes I ticked was when I told them about my experience visiting the civil war battefields with my dad as an teenager, trudging through fields. It made them laugh, but equally alerted them to my grounding and passion for my subject. Equally, my experience working in call centres and on door-to-door sales teams went down well too – they commented that it showed I was "willing to put a shift in". So talk about all your experiences, not just the ones you think they'll want to hear.

Tom Rogers is a history teacher. You can follow him on Twitter @RogersHistory

Each school will have a vision statement on their website. It will be their philosophy and integral to all that they (and you) will aspire to on a day-to-day basis. Ensure you refer to the school's vision in your application.

Avoid using buzz words – such as innovative, engaging and inspiring – in your application. If you're good enough for the role you shouldn't have to use them!

Gemma Williams

School visits

During your visit, you will be given a tour of the school. This is the time to impress: your employer will make their mind up about you at this point, before they observe you teach or interview you. Have some questions ready, such as what professional development opportunities the school could offer you. This is also a good time for you to meet your 'class'. If the position is for a year 4 teacher, ask to spend some time in year 3. You'll be teaching those children in September.

During your visit, definitely look in workbooks and focus your attention on the amount of marking and feedback you would be expected to give. If it's for every lesson, every day wave goodbye to your social life for the next year.

Gemma Williams

On the interview day itself, prepare for your interview lesson as thoroughly as you can but then try and forget there's someone in the room. Try and teach as if no-one is watching. Above all, be yourself and be confident. You've got this far for a reason!

Tom Rogers

You will be asked to teach a short lesson. For primary school teachers, it's usually a 30-minute maths or writing-based lesson. Your employer is not looking for an all-singing, all-dancing performance. They want to see consistent behaviour management so ask what strategies the school uses and implement them during your observation.

Always pitch the lesson for the average child, but ensure you have work suitable for the lower- and higher-attaining pupils. If the whole class finds the lesson too easy or too challenging, don't be afraid to adapt it on the spot. And never teach The Magic Box by Pie Corbett – we've all seen it, taught it and got the proverbial t-shirt! Be inventive!

Gemma Williams
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