Job Hunting at a distance - make it work for you!

So much has been affected by Covid-19, and the traditional job search is no exception.

Fortunately, we have the technology we need to keep things going, and while the virtual job search might feel a little unnatural, you certainly shouldn’t feel disadvantaged by it.

Review your CV

You can’t start looking for a new role – remotely or in person – without checking that your CV is as good as it can be. If a first meeting should feature a firm handshake and a confident smile, your CV should be just as open, clear and confident.

Every CV is different, but structure and the information you include is important. Make you’re doing yourself justice with our NQT CV masterclass.

Preparing for your interview

Whether you meet face to face, or via video, the rule of thumb remains the same: you can never be too prepared! It’s your opportunity to demonstrate your skills, knowledge and experience, and in return, the interviewer will have the chance to get to know you and assess your suitability for their vacancy.

Thorough research and effective preparation is essential. Don’t leave it to chance, take a look at our guide to interview preparation.

Coping with a video interview

Most of us are now far more familiar with Skype, Zoom and WhatsApp than before the pandemic hit, but the first thing to check is that you’re comfortable with the technology. If you can, practise with a friend or family member, so you know how to make the video chat go smoothly. It would be worth making and accepting the video call so you’re comfortable either way.

Plan where you’ll be when it’s time for your interview. Choose a quiet location where you’re unlikely to be distracted by things going on around you, and help your interviewer focus on you by checking that that there’s nothing distracting in the background.

Think about what you will wear. Even though you’re not there in person, dress is important. You need to be comfortable, but remember to look smart and professional – it will represent how you plan to approach the job.

When you get going, remember the importance of eye contact – look into the camera and relax. Be as natural, articulate and enthusiastic as you can be.

Remember, your interviewer may not be comfortable on camera. If you’re confident and relaxed, it’s likely to go better for both of you.

Prep for success

The more prepared you are, the easier it will be to answer questions and provide examples and evidence to strengthen your responses. Run through our example questions beforehand – even if they’re worded differently, at least one of the subjects they cover is likely to come up:

Why have you applied for this job? This is a tried and tested opening question. It works for interviewers because it allows you to ‘warm up’ while talking about yourself and your professional attributes. And it’s great for you because there’s no right or wrong answer. It’s important not to get carried away though. Keep it professional and take the opportunity to outline what you like about the role and why you are motivated to work for this particular employer.

What have you done so far? Although the interviewer will have a copy of your CV, they will want to hear about your experience in your own words, and form a picture of the way you have managed your career. Make some notes to help you to summarise what you see as key points and your most relevant achievements.

When you answer the question, start by outlining the route your career has taken, and then emphasise your successes. Make it easy for the interviewer and take charge of the narrative by explaining your rationale and progression.

How do you handle shifting priorities and working in a fast-paced, pressured environment? Give an example of how you have done this. This is your opportunity to show how flexible and resilient you are. The question asks you to acknowledge that things can be tough, but the point is to examine how you deal with difficult situations. This could have been a long term issue which you dealt with by exerting your influence in a team situation. You could also point out your expertise by describing how you regained focus and managed your caseload. Just make sure you have authentic examples which you are happy to back up and discuss in detail.

How do you like to be supervised? The interviewer will be interested in your skills and experience, but your working style is important too. With a question like this, they’re asking how you respond to instruction, whether you’re open to constructive criticism and how independent you are.

It’s important to be honest, but as you prepare, think about when supervision has gone well in the past, and why it worked. You want to come across as a valuable team member, someone who can see there is room for improvement, and who understands why that is important.

How do you ‘switch off’ at the end of the day? Teaching in school is often stressful and a potential employer will be interested to know how you will handle the responsibility and the emotional toll of working in this environment.

Show that you are able to disengage. Think about how you have done this in the past, how you have managed your family life and downtime, and how you stay strong and resilient. 

Do you have any questions? A lot of people find that their mind goes blank when faced with this question, but it really is an opportunity not to be missed. Asking pertinent questions will show you are serious about the role, and committed to the work. You might like to find out:

  • What would a typical day look like?
  • What sort of caseload could you expect?
  • How would you be supervised?
  • How do you approach CPD and what support is there?

The more prepared you are, the easier it will be to feel confident about any interview, whether it’s remote or in person. Think about the issues introduced by these questions, make some notes and rehearse your answers. You’ll have made a great start and will be well on your way to doing yourself justice.



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