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Getting the interview but not the job... over and over again

Discussion in 'Teaching assistants' started by Nicola26john, Jun 15, 2015.

  1. Nicola26john

    Nicola26john New commenter

    Hello everyone,

    Just after a little advice really after being deflated by a succession of interviews but no job offers. I think since last summer when I knew my previous post was ending, that I've been to atleast 10 interviews maybe more.

    Initially I tried to secure employment for September 2014, attending interviews towards the end of the summer term but wasn't successful at any. I should mention these were interviews located in an area 100 miles from where I lived at the time and where I planned to re locate to for the new academic year.

    So how did these interviews go? I am always brutally honest with myself when it comes to interview performance and I do think in your heart you know when it's gone well or not.

    Two of these interviews I felt I didn't give a good enough showing of myself, didn't answer the questions as well as I could have done and the feedback picked up on where I could have answered better. One just didn't go well at all because I was still reeling from the heartbreak of the previous day...

    The first interview I had for the schools in the new area I was moving to, was very positive, I had a good rapport with the headteacher, answered questions well, impressed them with some of the things I've done.

    I was hopeful...but then the phone call came and I didn't get it. He actually said 'he couldn't fault my interview' it just came down to someone else being more experienced. Extremely disappointing and particularly disappointing because I knew I HAD done well in the interview, something that I've never naturally excelled at, but it wasn't enough.

    The second interview put me so much at ease, they wanted it to be more like an informal discussion rather than an interview. I completely relaxed and gave the very best of me that I had, we chatted for what felt like ages and I could sense a rapport with the interview team and they seemed so impressed with what I had to say. But...phone call comes and it's a no. 'We loved meeting you today, and your interview was impressive but we've given the post to someone else with more experience'. It devastated me.

    I didn't apply for any more that summer after that, instead I just moved to the new area, started supply TA work with a couple of agencies and threw myself into that, getting solid experience in schools and settings up here. I've been doing this since my DBS cleared at Christmas and have loads of different assignments that I've loved that's given me such a broad range of experiences. But...it's not financially secure, there are days where there are no work so I've been applying for posts as and when something catches my eye. Since November I have attended a further 5 interviews. Same outcome as before. Generally favourable feedback as to my interview answers, some areas highlighted where answers could have been expanded so I've worked on them for subsequent interviews culminating in yet again...

    That interview that goes REALLY well. Where the rapport between the interview team is so strong, they can't help but comment on what a strong answer is that I've given, where I can see them tick the highest mark for nearly every single question.(There was barely a table between us) But then the phone call comes and again it begins with 'unfortunately' and my post interview optimism shatters into a million pieces. Again. I just about manage to compose myself to ask for feedback and she actually says I was 'unlucky to come up against such a high standard' because my interview was 'excellent'. She states there is perhaps ONE answer (out of atleast 15 - it was a lengthy interview!) that I could have expanded on.

    I cannot have any more experiences like this ,where I can not possibly give any more, cannot show myself any better and it still not be enough. I frequently seem to find myself in this position now, applying for and successfully being shortlisted for the majority of posts, getting down to the last 6 or 8 candidates and from feedback sounding like I got down to the final 2 or 3 even but never being the one. I've improved my interview technique, I've conquered my nerves and demonstrated my enthusiasm but I just don't know what that magical ingredient is that I'm missing to get me to coveted offer stage.

    I have another interview this week, for a post that I know would suit me down to the ground but it seems competition is so fierce these days there's always 'someone better'. I really can't take many more post interview callbacks that start with the word 'unfortunately' it's soul destroying. I know I'm really lucky to get to the interview stage so often, it's half the battle these days but I can't seem to turn my good candidate on paper into a great candidate in person.

  2. tamtams

    tamtams New commenter


    My heart does go out to you like you say competition is really really tough. A couple of TA friends of mine went to over 20 interviews before they were successful. It could be jobs are going to internals, or teachers yes teachers or someone who may have been in the role a year or two longer than you that could also make a difference. All I can say is KEEP going I know it's hard but you will secure a job i'm sure of it, there is one out there for you. One of my friends who attended over 20 interviews asked her head for advice and the head kindly gave her a mock interview and she got the next job she went for, maybe luck I don't know. It sounds like you are doing all the right things so hang on in there. The very best of luck to you this next one may be the one fingers crossed that you post back and say I'VE GOT IT. Good luck and let us know how it goes.
  3. Nicola26john

    Nicola26john New commenter

    Thank you so much for your kind words!

    I'm kind of relieved to see it doesn't seem to be that unusual to go to SO many interviews before securing a post, I was starting to think there really must be an issue that's holding me back! I try to learn something from each one, but feedback is so thin or non existent sometimes, I'd much rather be told for example 'your answer about dealing with challenging behaviour' wasn't quite what we were looking for than just be flat out told 'you were really unlucky'

    On the positive side, I feel I have faced every possible question I'm ever likely to be asked so feel sort of relaxed about the interview itself, it's just the gnawing worry about being told 'no' again.

    I know for a fact one of the interviews I mentioned doing really well at all DID go to an internal candidate because I wound up doing supply at that school and heard someone mention to her about 'she must feel relieved now that she's a 'bit more permanent'.

    It's those ones that are the most frustrating, where they know in all likelihood who they're going to hire beforehand but then again I beat out internal candidates in my last post I was told so I guess I just have to give it my all (as always!) and at least push them to make a difficult decision.

    I will be sure to let you know either way. Thanks again.
  4. sunshineneeded

    sunshineneeded Star commenter

    I really do feel for you; you sound to be doing all the right things. Competition is SO fierce out there these day - we had over 70 applicants for our last TA job. It actually went to someone who was on their eighth interview, so don't get too downhearted. You are learning from each interview, and there will be a job out there with your name on it. Best of luck with the one this week - be confident, be interested in everything they say about the school and have a couple of questions ready to ask if you get the chance - the school website or Ofsted report should help you with these.
  5. Dear Nicola...we both are going through the same pain. Nowadays I am fed up and not doing the interviews properly. Anyways...best of luck.
  6. snugglepot

    snugglepot Occasional commenter

    Ask for feedback each time. Get someone to check your application. Do you send a covering letter? If you have moved county could you ask your previous employer to give you a written reference and send it with your application. You can't help it if .someone has more experience. I had that happen once at our village Primary. I had given them lots of voluntary help and Ofsted recommended they took on a TA ( they meant me as the Lead Inspector thought I was wonderful with the children) and they gave the job to someone else who was a teacher. I was devastated. I worked on and off for the local team for SEN and then secured a post where I have stayed for 20 years. Just keep plugging away. You never know the first school might ask you if they need another TA. Could you offer to do some supply for them that way you could gain more experience?
  7. Gsr25

    Gsr25 Occasional commenter

    I'm sorry to hear that this keeps happening, it is incredibly competitive because it is such desirable work.

    I've been to a couple of interviews where they knew who they were going to hire (internal) and it couldn't be made more obvious that this was the case, it made it a complete waste of my time and I couldn't understand why they do that but nowadays in the county I am in they won't bother to advertise if they have people internally who will "fit"

    I recently applied for a role where I thought I would be a perfect git for the needs of the school with my particular skills set but I didn't even get shortlisted, so either they had a huge number of applicants or I didn't have what they wanted.

    Sunshineneeded is right, there is a job out there with your name on it, so keep your chin up and keep plugging away and good luck!
  8. Trekkie

    Trekkie Occasional commenter

    Gsr25 - I presume you mean perfect 'fit'!! [​IMG]

    You are right in saying it is extremely competitive out there but keep trying and good luck!
  9. I agree with Gsr25 that a lot of jobs do seem to go to internal candidates and the school is just going through the motions to fulfil their legal obligations by inviting a few others to interview. In fact, it shows what a strong candidate you are in even making it to the shortlist under these circumstances.

    I would be tempted to pursue a second avenue of access if you're game & have a little free time each week? - Why not make YOURSELF the internal candidate by carefully picking the ideal school you would like to work in & then volunteer there once a week? You could study the next level of qualification from where you're currently at & explain that the work experience in their school is to support you in pursuing the qualification.

    Joining with everyone in wishing you all the luck in the world - your eloquence and dedication will get you there imminently.
  10. swim

    swim New commenter

    My daughter was in the same position.

    Firstly ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS make an appointment to see around the school first. Make sure you are right next to the head if there are a group of you going around. Treat this walkover like a mini interview. Wear something memorable, and make a few relevant positive comments as you are walking around.

    Secondly, ALWAYS talk to children - even if it just to say hello. Ask them, what are they doing, etc, and then say something positive and relative to the head even if it is just 'what lovely children you have here.'

    Thirdly, you may be able to use something from the walkover in your interview or application form.

    Before the interview, do your homework. Go onto the web site and see if there is anything the school has done recently that you can talk about or been involved in yourself somewhere else. Who is the chair of governors? What are the local facilities like.

    Think of all the interview you have been on - write a list of the questions that you were asked and rehearse the answers in case you are asked them or similar again.

    During the interview sit with your legs closed, your hands on your lap and a smile on your face - have your hair tied back so the panel can see your face, and most importantly, your eyes as they are very revealing.

    At the end of the interview, when they ask if you have any questions, get out your list - it could be your shopping list, and look at it - then say, 'thank you but you've answered everything that I wanted to ask'. It shows that you have really thought about the job and the school.

    Always ask that if you do not get the job can you phone up for some feedback. If you give them fair notice of your intention the feedback will be more useful.

    Lastly send a thank you note for their time, and if you do not get the job you will be very grateful if they would remember you if another vacancy comes up.

    Hope all this helps.
  11. swim

    swim New commenter

    Oh and do not leave it too long in applying. One school my daughter applied to said that if she was not in the FIRST SACK them she was not considered for the position.
  12. Trekkie

    Trekkie Occasional commenter

    We have had instances where a candidate was not offered the post after the interview but were so highly regarded that they were offered a post later in the term.

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