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I’ve reviewed applications and interviewed prospective staff for over 20 years, and in that time I’ve seen some candidates excel, and others fall short for the simplest reasons. If you are applying for a teaching post in an international school, here are some dos and don’ts that will increase your chances of landing your dream role.
1. Read the Advert
- check that you meet the minimum requirements for the role eg:
- number of years of teaching experience
- subject experience
- language requirements
- visa limitations (if any)
- follow the application steps carefully.
- apply if you don’t meet the minimum expectations; it will be a waste of your time and that of the recruiting team;
- apply if you feel the school’s ethos doesn’t align with your own. It’s unlikely you will get the role, but if you do, you won’t be happy!
2. Your Resume
- There are plenty of online tools such as Canva that will help format your resume to look modern, organised and structured
- Be consistent with fonts and font size
- Most recent experience is most relevant, so this goes first with the oldest later. If there are any gaps, explain them briefly
- Include all your relevant qualifications including your teaching certificate
- Photos are not normally required for your resume
- If you wish, include links to additional resources such as a professional website or LinkedIn, but not to Facebook!
3. Your Personal Statement
- find out and use the name of the head of school
- clarify your own educational philosophy. Are you all about academic outcomes? Are you more holistic in your approach?
- include reference to any extra-curricular activities however unusual. Bee-keeping? Rock-climbing? Dungeons & Dragons? International schools serve a wide-ranging community so add your interests.
- use an accurate spell-check and don’t be afraid to use a tool like Grammarly to guide you in crafting your statement to have the right impact
- personalise your statement by referring to the school’s mission and vision
- repeat what’s on your CV
- write too much, or too little. Between 350 words and 1,100 is about right. Too short and recruiters will not get a sense of who you are, and too long and they may not read it all.
4. Preparing for an interview
If you are lucky enough to get an interview, then:
- read the school website and the job details – print them off and highlight keywords;
- ask your contacts around the world for information about the school;
- research websites such as ISC to find out more about the philosophy;
- highlight key aspects of your own set of skills and experience that you really need to mention at the interview;
- write down some questions that you may be able to ask at the interview.
5. If you get an interview
- Increasingly, interviews are online so practise with a friend, record yourself and review the video.
- Most importantly, be yourself. Interviewers know it is a stressful situation and they really want to get to know the person behind the camera, so try to relax.
- Be smart in terms of attire and general appearance
- Consider your background – avoid dirty dishes and laundry appearing over your shoulder!
- Find somewhere quiet where you won’t get disturbed. If necessary, have a sign outside your door saying please do not disturb.
- Consider lighting so your face is neither too bright nor a silhouette.
- Sit at a table and use your laptop rather than your phone.
- Use a few prompts if you need to. Sticky notes dotted around your screen that you can peel off when you’ve mentioned them are often useful.
- Never read from a script.
- Try to maintain eye contact by looking at the camera rather than the image of the interviewers.
- Don’t be too close to your camera nor too far, and ideally have the camera somewhere in front of your face rather than below or above.
- Do smile and be warm, but not too relaxed.
- Stick to time limits – if they ask for something to take 5 minutes, set a timer.
- Practice with the platform before the day to minimise technical problems that will fluster you on the day.
Gavin Lazaro – Deputy Head, The Lisboan International School, Portugal
Gavin initially trained as an industrial chemist in the UK and worked in agrochemicals, perfumery and catalysis before moving into teaching. He has spent nearly 30 years working in and leading international schools in the Middle East and South-East Asia. Currently working at The Lisboan International School in Lisbon he is relishing the challenge of helping to create a school from scratch with a clear focus on a culture of kindness, holistic learning and high expectations.
Above image from https://images.pexels.com/photos/4226140/pexels-photo-4226140.jpeg?auto=compress&cs=tinysrgb&w=1260&h=750&dpr=2