Whether you are new to the profession, or looking to move onto a new position elsewhere, there are many things that you need to keep in mind when applying for a job in order for you to present yourself in the best possible light. These can be considered in the following groups: \nThe advertisement \nPreparing your evidence \nPerson specification \nJob description \nCompleting the application form and submitting additional supporting information \nPreparation for interview \nThe interview itself \nThe advertisement \nHaving made sure you are receiving up to date details on current jobs (local and national press, websites, EYDCP and LEA newsletters, etc) you need to think carefully about the advertised job in a variety of ways before you even think about applying. \nAre you ready, personally and professionally for such a move? \nDo you really think you could do the job (realising at this point that you don\u0027t know much about it until you get the job and person specifications) \nAre you prepared to travel the distance? Is there any problem with getting there, eg no rail or bus links and you don\u0027t have a car! Are there traffic jams for ten miles each way, thus ensuring that you\u0027ll have to leave your house at dawn to get there on time? \nBe realistic. If the job is for someone with four years\u0027 experience and you have two months, you\u0027re unlikely to be considered seriously. \nFollow the instructions to apply, and whilst you\u0027re waiting for the details to arrive, you can start preparing for the next stage. \nPreparing your evidence \nYou can use a portfolio of evidence to show the interview panel any previous work you have been involved in. This can be photographic evidence (be careful to obtain parental permission if you are using any photos of children), with captions detailing the importance, eg a learning intention. "Here the children were learning to work cooperatively in constructing a canal from recycled materials". Or it could show how you have used your professional knowledge and skills to inform others, such as "I created this display to introduce our new parents to the Foundation Stage", or "I gave a presentation to colleagues showing them how children learn through playing with malleable materials" In the interview, you won\u0027t be able to cover all of the experiences that you are proud of, so a simple photo album with captions will show the panel your qualities within a few minutes. \nIt\u0027s a good idea to include examples of children\u0027s work, too, showing interesting combinations of materials that children have chosen. Write a caption for each example, explaining the learning intention/unplanned learning that went on during the activity. Your examples need to show that you value children\u0027s individuality and ability to make choices, so don\u0027t include twenty-seven identical giraffes! \nPerson specification \nPerson specifications usually have two parts; those that are essential for the job, and those that are desirable. Go through the essential ones first, and try to match them up with your knowledge, skills and experience. If at first you don\u0027t think you have achieved one or two, have a really good think, and think if there is anything that you could use as a suitable alternative. \nOften the specification will state "Knowledge required" and sometimes you may feel yours is inadequate! Don\u0027t forget, you have time to extend this, within reason, before your interview. \nIf, for example, the specification says "Knowledge of what constitutes quality in early years education and strategies for raising achievement", then take some time to collect your thoughts, read articles, search the internet, and make a few notes about it so that when you get to interview you are well prepared. \nIf the specification refers to certain documents, make sure you have a copy and that you familiarise yourself with it. \nIt may also say "Ability to research, evaluate and monitor....", even if you haven\u0027t had the experience, think about a project that you might like to get going, and how you would go about it. Or, think small, along the lines of something that you have done personally rather than as part of your work, eg "I wanted to find out more about X so I....." \nPersonal requirements may also be along the lines of \nAbility to use appropriate and relevant IT skills including word-processing and spreadsheets \nAbility to work flexible hours in a variety of locations, including anti-social hours \nAbility to work under own initiative and to set priorities \nWith any of these, you have to be honest! Don\u0027t get yourself into the position of getting a job you can\u0027t cope with, just because you don\u0027t want to stay where you are, or because ANY job is better than none. That is not the case. \nFurther personal attributes that may be listed such as \nAdaptable \nResourceful \nAbility to remain calm under pressure \nAbility to motivate others \nAbility to negotiate \nAbility to be a team player \nThink about examples of how you have matched these criteria in the past. Can you think of a difficult meeting you led/were a part of? Can you think of an example where you turned a negative situation into a positive one? What do you do to relax? \nJob description \nThis is the part where you imagine yourself doing the job! Sections in this part may be: \nMain purpose of the job, eg "To work with members of the Foundation Stage team in developing learning through play in the setting" or "To deliver high quality training and support activities to raise the achievement of all children in the local authority" "To take responsibility for an area of the curriculum and to develop a whole-school/setting policy for continuity and progression across all key stages"....the list is infinite! \nMain functions, ie the specifics of the above statements, eg "to establish, to promote, maintain, support, develop, provide, respond to, be responsible for, ensure, represent, prioritise, demonstrate, undertake......"Go through each one, and imagine how you would go about it. If there is anything you don\u0027t understand or would like clarified, make a note of it, and ask at the interview. \nCompleting the application form \nIt\u0027s a good idea to photocopy the application form once or even twice and fill in the copy (copies) first as a practice run. That way, you\u0027ll be able to make a second (perfect) attempt. You\u0027ll be able to see if the paragraphs you write take up the appropriate amount of space, and that the whole thing looks neat and presentable. Are you able to complete it online, using a wordprocessor, or are you required to complete it by hand? These days, we rely on the keyboard for so many things, but if you are required to complete it by hand, do take care with your handwriting and spelling, especially if the job requires you to complete reports! Accuracy and clarity are essential. \nIf you are permitted to add supporting evidence, always do so. Use the person specification and job description to show how your experience, knowledge and skills will allow you to do the job, eg "I am able to motivate others; last term I led a team of colleagues in developing our outside area. I encouraged parents and members of the local community to join us, and by the end of the summer term, we had separate areas in the garden for vegetables, wild flowers and animals, creative play, and construction activities". \nKeep copies of your completed form, and anything else you send. \nPreparation for interview \nWhere do you start? Well, firstly, congratulate yourself that you have been asked to attend! The panel clearly think you are worth considering based on your application. Begin by re-reading the person specification, job description, your application form and supporting evidence. \nHave you been asked to do a presentation? If so, this needs some careful planning and preparation. The title may well be a loose one, giving the candidates scope for a variety of interpretations, eg "What is high quality early years practice?" or "How do settings ensure that they are effective?" or "Observation and assessment in the Foundation Stage". Almost certainly, if you are required to do a presentation, you will have a time limit, (around 10-15 minutes is normal) so you have to get across your important points in a relatively short space of time. \nBegin by listing headings, thoughts, and the first things that come to mind. Group them, and pad them out with a little more detail (not too much!). Refer to National Guidelines, or relevant documents, perhaps including one or two quotes. How are you going to present your work? Overheads or Powerpoint? Are you able to produce simple handouts for the interview panel that outline your presentation? Think about making your presentation varied with simple bullet points, diagrams or photographs to add interest. \nIt may be that you prefer to have the whole presentation written out for you to read several times over so that you can virtually learn it by heart. This is good for practicing your presentation at home, but don\u0027t use it in the interview. Consider how this looks to your audience! Much better to have a set of small cards. with the important points listed as bullet points, to prompt you. This way, your body language will be more natural, and you will be able to make eye contact with the interview panel, smile, and look enthusiastic about your subject. \nFinally, practice it in front of the mirror, your family, friends and the dog, until you are happy with the content and your presentation. \nHave a trial run at getting to the venue, particularly if you are travelling by road. Make sure you know how much time to allow for you to arrive calm and collected just a few minutes early. \nThe interview \nIt goes without saying to arrive on time, with your presentation, supporting evidence, certificates etc. \nDeciding what to wear is a perennial problem but the best piece of advice is to wear something that you feel comfortable in. If it\u0027s respectable, clean and not pointing you out as a fashion victim, it\u0027s probably fine! \nWhen you are called into the interview remember to make eye contact with the panel, smile and say hello. \nYou may be asked to do your presentation first, so take your time to make sure you have it laid out in the way you want, the overheads are in the correct order, your notes in front of you, any handouts ready to give to the panel, and any technology you are using is working properly. \nHave a sip of water (they will provide it), smile, take an invisible deep breath, and start with the title! \nThroughout your presentation, build in little breaks for you to breathe and make eye contact again. Sometimes this is difficult if the panel are busy writing notes about you, but you\u0027ll probably meet somebody\u0027s eyes from time to time. \nThe presentation will then be followed by questions from your panel. These are not trick questions, but are designed to give you the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and skills. Take a moment after each question to think about your answer; much better than just diving in without any coherent thoughts in place. Obviously we can\u0027t cover every possible question for every conceivable job, but here are some that will get you thinking! \nWhy do you want this job? \nWhy do you think you are suitable for this job? \nWhat preparation did you go through to prepare for this presentation/interview? \nCould you describe an example of your practice that you have been particularly pleased with? \nCould you describe an example of your practice that you have been disappointed with, and how you would change it next time? \nWhat do you think are the best qualities for working in a successful team? \nHow do you motivate yourself/others? \nIf you saw something in a nursery/class setting of a sensitive or confidential nature, what would you do? \nHow do you cope with a child with difficult behaviour? \nIf you had s et of parents who showed no interest in their child\u0027s development, how would you go about helping them to come on board? \nWhat does the term "inclusion" mean to you? \nCan you describe your curriculum strengths/weaknesses? \nWhy do you think children should be learning through play? \nWhat is the importance of outside provision for young children? \nHow would you persuade a reluctant staff to take on new initiatives? \nWhat are the main responsibilities of a line manager? \nWhat do you understand by the terms Quality Assurance? \nHow would you set up a staff appraisal system? \nHow do you assess a child whom you believe to have Special Educational Needs? \nHave you ever worked with outside agencies, for example the Learning Support Service, Educational Psychologists, Paediatricians, Speech Therapists, etc? \nYou may be asked if you have any questions. You don\u0027t have to have any but it does show that you have thought very carefully about the position. Suggestions might be \nHow might the job develop? Perhaps with extra responsibility after a suitable time? \nWhat opportunities will there be for me to develop professionally/attend courses? \nYou may not have any questions at all, in which case just say something like "I don\u0027t have any questions, thank you, I think we\u0027ve covered everything during the interview". \nKate, an FSF member, recently had an interview for a job as a state nursery teacher (a new area for her although she is a qualified teacher). She writes here, telling us about her interview experience: \nMy Interview Experience \nMy portfolio \nIn this I have everything from my qualifications to courses I\u0027ve been on and displays of my children\u0027s work and working. \nHowever as I was gathering stuff for Volume 2 (!), I decided that the photos weren\u0027t enough on their own, so I added lesson plans. I teach in a special school so our planning is very different to a Nursery Where I was applying. So somehow I had to adjust my plans. I spent ages on the Forum looking at examples of planning and looking at the FS curriculum and Stepping Stones. I then colour coded all the areas according to stepping stones that I was going to be teaching so that it looked as though I knew what I was talking about. \nI then completed two individual lesson plans. One for my class and one for the youngest class in the school to whom I teach Art and RE once a week. The purpose of this was for the interviewer to see that I could differentiate work and activities and delegate tasks and manage staff as well. \nI had been asked to bring an indispensable resource with me to the interview. This was really difficult because I didn\u0027t know exactly what they were looking for. I considered many things including therapeutic putty and a CD, but I finally decided upon \u0027We\u0027re going on a bear hunt\u0027 as this is such a fantastic story that leads to many other areas of learning. Bearing (forgive the pun) this in mind I decided to plan a whole \u0027topic\u0027 around the story and draw up these plans in a web and then planned activities in every area of learning that I could think of. \nThis all took four days of extremely hard thinking and stress, but then Monday dawned. \nThe day of the interview. \nI was amazed at how easy it was. Very relaxed and more like a rather formal chat. \nThere were three interviewers; the Head, Deputy and Chair of Governors and each had a list of general questions that they would, I presume ask everybody and ones just for me drawn from my application. \nAdvice here, read your application before you go so that you have a clue about who they think you are. \nAnd these are some of the questions that they asked me. \nWhy are you applying for this job? \nWhat is therapeutic putty? (I\u0027d mentioned this previously, and luckily I had chanced to throw some into the bag at the last minute). \u0027 Here you are\u0027 I said\u0027 This is what it is, have a play\u0027 \nTell me more about Reggio Emilia ... and I just happened to have the catalogue of the exhibition that I saw zillions of years ago in London. \nWhat do you mean when you say that you put all the children\u0027s work on display? \nTell us about your role of subject coordinator \nHow would you monitor the children\u0027s learning? \nWhat is the most important area of learning for a child? \nWhat did you bring as your resource? \nWould you be prepared to take the job? \nNot all children can communicate easily through language, so how would you ensure that such a child can be included in discussions? \nAnd yes, I did get the job. Am awaiting written confirmation - hope it comes soon! \n
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