NQT Advice: CVs, Teacher Cover Letters & Interviews

Becoming teacher can be just as tricky as any other profession – you need to get your foot in the door, gain as much experience as you can, network effectively and be driven, enthusiastic and hard-working at all times. But with so many aspiring teachers, PGCE students and NQTs out there- only the strong survive! So Impact is here to guide you on your way to greatness with fantastic tips, tools and advice to get you your dream teaching job!

Cover Letter Tips

Given the competitive nature of the teaching profession, first impressions are everything! Many applications are solely judged on appearance and the first few lines, so it’s imperative that you stand out.

Taking your time over your cover letter and CV. Make sure it’s all up-to-date and accurate is straightforward. If a little tedious way of getting yourself noticed. Being sure to include ALL your experience and training is the best way to secure an interview, but you must also be careful not to exaggerate anything you include as employers often expect explanations and proof of what you have mentioned.

The following is a classic cover letter structure:

Name& address: Placed on the right-hand side of the cover letter page.

Date: On the next line but starting on the left hand side.

Recipient’s Name: Make sure this is correct- do some quick research if need be!

Address: It’s imperative that this is accurate.

Dear: Include their title and surname.

Job title/position and reference number if applicable: Always check your spelling!

First paragraph: Bold statement outlining why you want to apply for the job and what appeals to you about the school.

Second paragraph: Research the school and tailor your letter by saying something specific about the strengths of the school. Expand on why you want to be considered.

Third paragraph: Often combined with the second paragraph, this should highlight YOUR strengths and why your skills, experience and knowledge would make such a great asset to the school. Make plenty of links between the school and yourself- where do its aims coincide with yours? Always back up your statements with evidence and refer to your CV.

Fourth paragraph: Any additional points- perhaps what you hope to gain if offered the vacancy, how it fits into your career plans or any little extras you might want to mention such as any voluntary work, interest/hobbies or travelling you have done.

Concluding paragraph: Always finish your cover letter on a positive note- tell them when you’ll be available for interview (and for work) and that you look forward to hearing from them.

CV CV Tips

–          Never longer than 2 pages.
–          Work listed should be in chronological order from most recent onwards.
–          Use a clear font.
–          Highlight keywords.
–          Be brief!
–          Use plain, succinct English– avoid jargon.
–          Only include hobbies and interests that correspond to the role or teaching as a whole.
–          Identify your referees.
–          Use positive language.
–          Always check your spelling, grammar and punctuation!

Interview Tips

In your answers to interview questions ensure that you are clear about why you want to teach and why you want to teach in that particular school. Keep the person specification in mind.

If you have taught a demonstration lesson, expect to be asked how it went. Give an honest evaluation, focus on the pupils’ learning and be prepared to discuss how it might be improved.

interview Research the school and the vacancy type. You should be well-versed in what you can offer the school, what they can offer you and how your training matches the role.

You are likely to be asked about your strengths. Be able to give supporting evidence including practical examples of your achievements in the classroom. More importantly plan what weaknesses or ‘areas for development’ you are willing to share. Referring to a final placement report will add credibility. Giving examples of your developing practice in this area and describing how you intend to strengthen it will indicate your suitability for the position.

Whether relevant to the particular role or not, make sure you are aware of the differences there are in teaching, for example, a class of Year 7 (11-year-olds) and Year 11 (15-year-olds).

Don’t be cheesy or generic when inevitably being asked why you want to teach. Explain your genuine reasons behind it and back them up with your experience and training.

Confidence and Determination

Whilst it is important that you show you the confidence and determination to problem-solve, do not be afraid of saying that you would ask for guidance and clarification if needed.

Show passion for the subject(s) you’ll be teaching and be enthusiastic throughout. Take or make the opportunity to let the panel know what else you can offer to enrich the pupils’ experiences and add to the life of the school. Where there is fierce competition for jobs it may be these extras that make you stand out and make a difference.

Research about current educational issues and changes. You may be asked your opinion on recent news or issues and it’s so important that you remain as neutral as possible so as not to offend anyone.

You are likely to be asked if you have any questions- and you must make sure you do! This reflects your interest in the role. Be attentive when receiving responses and be careful to only pose questions that will strengthen the case for you to be appointed.

It is usual to be asked whether you remain a firm candidate for the post. Expect this question and give a clear, positive answer.

Marianne Calnan(Social Media & Marketing Administrator)


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