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what am I doing wrong?

Discussion in 'Jobseekers' started by davi_theuk, Sep 27, 2015.

  1. davi_theuk

    davi_theuk New commenter

    Hi everyone,

    A good advice regarding job hunting will be much appreciated.

    About myself: MA, QTS, “outstanding” for most lessons, exam results 100 % - A*-B.

    Since last year I have been looking for a new job, as I wanted to have more hours/responsibilities (was working part-time). I have sent many applications, was called for five interviews and got no job offer. The explanations given were:

    1) We need an English native speaker (an English native speaker got the job);

    2) A huge competition here, and you didn’t win it (the job was given to a pgce student);

    3) Great but no (it was a religious school, and the job was given to a person of that religion);

    4) Good presentation, good relations with the class, but you are not who we are looking for (no idea who got the job);

    5) “Everything was amazing, great lesson, we will contact you next week to arrange you second interview with the head so you can discuss your salary” leaded into no further correspondence (the job was given to a newly graduate).

    My question is: is it just me so unlucky? Why schools don’t want me? What am I doing wrong? Or am I applying to wrong schools? Which schools should I apply to?

    Your comments are very welcome!


  2. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    I don't know what you are doing wrong, @davi_theuk , although my very first thought as soon as I started reading was that there were a few errors in your written English. Is your spoken English perhaps not as clear and conducive to effective communication as they had hoped? Do you have a marked accent or intonation that they may have found difficult in the interview?

    You cannot answer those questions, of course! So ask a colleague at your current school what they think. Then come back here for more comments.

    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  3. davi_theuk

    davi_theuk New commenter

    TheoGriff, thanks for your reply.

    I teach two foreign languages (I am bilingual). My written English is great when it comes to official correspondence/reports.I have been in the UK for 10 years so far, so my spoken English is very fluent and clear. Actually, many teachers in ML Deps are foreign and speak English with different accents (quite often heavy accents) and make mistakes in their spoken and written English. However, some of them are tutors and even HoDs. So I don’t think my accent is a problem, unless the school wants the Queen#s English.
    So, no, noy English, but I I am British though (Syrian descent)..

    I did have a word with my current colleagues, and was told lots of schools are in shortage of money, so they prefer NQTs or PGCE students, as they cost less. Honestly, I did have more invitations/job offers when I was an NQT.

    Last edited: Sep 27, 2015
  4. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    Regarding your comment about money - pay portability has been abolished. Schools can pay what they like, regardless of whether they are NQTs or on UPS. Some schools do look for NQTs, but if you are invited to interview, you need to prove and explain how you would justify a larger salary. You have excellent exam results - are you really pushing that enough in your applications, and explaining how you achieved it (and would lend that practice to the Department?)

    One thing I noticed. Your response to TheoGriff's very measured comment about your written English. I'm not sure why you feel the need to make comments about MFL practitioners - be careful. Criticisng others, even very mildly, if you feel you're being criticised is not going to help you.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  5. davi_theuk

    davi_theuk New commenter


    Thank you so much for your comment. I mention exam results, although I don’t usually say how I managed to make my students achieve them. And yes, sharing is caring, great point! thanks a lot!!

    As for the previous comment: my English was good enough to get a MA and a QTS which was ignored, but some errors were noticed instead and the message sounded as “is your spoken English as poor as your written one?” Message in a more politically correct way e.g. “make sure you proofread your docs and give clear lively answers during the interview" would be even better measured.

    Not criticising others though. Just pointing that MFL Deps are usually full of non native speakers with all kinds of accents, which doesn’t influence their professional progress, so I don’t think my own accent is an issue. There are lots of nationalities living in cosmopolitan England, so there are lots of English accents.
    jarndyce likes this.
  6. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    Hi there,

    Yes - you do need to be more positive about what you've achieved and how. If you have experience, I suspect you should be going for 2nd in Dept, or HoD. If you are, you need to make it explicit how you will move the Faculty on or up!

    Regarding your second point - you admit that you made errors in that post, which led to TheoGriff making her comment. Not sure how that can be construed as being politically incorrect. When it comes to recruitment, its not about being PC - its about getting the best person for the job. And if they send in an application with errors in it, regardless of whether they are a native or non-native English speaker, they won't get too far. Accent is irrelevant.
  7. davi_theuk

    davi_theuk New commenter

    I am sorry I was the only person on this forum who made errors in his/her post !Hope it didnt hurt anyone#s feelings.



    Will do it – thanks again! I was asked before how I would contribute, but I didn;t mention sharing lesson materials / strategies etc.. being honest, I was sure it would be a normal thing to do so, and no need of mentioning . You made a great point, so thanks a lot! I do mean it.

    I have quite a lot of experience, but not going for HoD or Deputy Head: I am not very ambitious." I am a performer, not a manager." (c) :)
  8. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    No problem. Just bear in mind that the term "performer" can be misinterpreted by HTs - they want people who can deliver solid lessons with competence - not an entertainer. Just be careful. Good luck!
  9. davi_theuk

    davi_theuk New commenter

    Yes, I know. :) It’s a family joke: that’s what my sister says when asked why she is not going for her own business. Thank you!! Have a nice week.
  10. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    I am not quite sure what you are saying here . . . better measured? I don't understand what that means.

    I will say that clearly if you are getting interviews, there is nothing much wrong with your applications; no need to advise you to proofread your documents in that case!

    However, your English in these postings above is by no means perfect, even if it is in your applications, which is why my first thought was that it may be your English that is letting you down in your interviews. Because it is clear that something is not going right when you are interviewed.

    If your spoken language is better than the written language above, then there is something else that needs to be considered as causing the failure to get appointed. And before you get annoyed at me again, do remember that you are asking here "What am I doing wrong?".

    I therefore suggest that to identify where you are going wrong in interviews, you ask a colleague - your HoD for example - to give you a mock interview and some clear feedback.

    When I do individual interview training, for example, I sometimes see people who pull faces when asked a question, or even unwittingly glare at the interviewer. Or who talk too little, giving very short answers, or talk too much, giving very long ones, or who are irrelevant, or criticise their current school, are negative about their colleagues. Lots of things could be going wrong, and you are totally unaware of it. So a mock interview could help identify some minor thing that could make all the difference.

    And then, when it comes down to it, sometimes what happens is that an interviewing panel just gets on well with one candidate, clicks with him or her, feels that they would be a good fit in the department, same ethos, same view of the teaching process. I sometimes say that choosing a candidate is a bit like falling in love - you know who it is, but not why! So perhaps you need to apply more to find the school where you and the department are a perfect fit.

    And finally:

    That in fact was, more or less, what I was saying, and in view of the fact that (a) your English as displayed here is not of native-speaker level and (b) you are asking what you are doing wrong in interview, I cannot see why you object to that conclusion being drawn. Come on, it's an obvious first question to ask you, surely?

    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  11. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    How could you jump to the decision that TheoGriff was 'racist'? She was merely pointing out a potential answer to your initial query, "What am I doing wrong?" I happen to know (as would you if you read some of her posts on teaching in Spain) that Theo spends a great deal of time teaching (voluntarily) in another country, is almost certainly a 'linguist' and would not intentionally be 'racist'- which I don't believe she was.
  12. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    My first thought was money - the applicant is probably too expensive
    It's also my second and third
    Vince_Ulam and snowyhead like this.
  13. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    Good gracious me!

    To say as I did that your English as displayed here is not of native-speaker level is a factual statement and not a racist one!

  14. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter


    That's not a racist statement. It's an observation of fact and an objectively-justifiable reason for not appointing someone to a teaching role.
    CWadd likes this.
  15. lapinrose

    lapinrose Star commenter

    Sabah al-kheir davi_theuk, firstly I had many, many job interviews without being offered the job, reasons being mainly because I was too expensive! Schools seem to prefer to appoint young, cheap teachers!! I teach EFL now and have much experience in teaching students from the Middle East and have visited Syria, beautiful country.
    What is your teaching subject? Where are you based? These things are often very important.
    Have tried signing to a supply agency to gain extra experience?
  16. lizziescat

    lizziescat Star commenter

    Crikey, if that's your reaction to an objective statement and a supportive response to an issue you raised, I wonder if the issue is not with language but with your ability to work as part of a team, to understand feedback, to accept advice or it may be that your manner appears somewhat bellicose in RL as on here. Such traits would rule you out of most jobs.
    Theo has given you some excellent and experienced advice, I suggest you ask your colleagues about the issues raised but they will need to be confident* that you will not take offence at the answers.

    (I feel hesitant to respond here due to your reaction)
    rachelpaula008 and CWadd like this.
  17. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    Interesting accusation to throw at TheoGriff.

    People put posts on here with errors - they get reminded they need to be careful with their applications. It does not matter if they are a native or non native speaker. If your response to this is to shout "racism", then I'm not sure what can be said to assist you.
  18. lapinrose

    lapinrose Star commenter

    As a matter of interest, exactly what did you feel was racist about Theo's post? I can find absolutely nothing which is racist instead it's a very helpful post!
  19. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Theo was trying to help you, OP, by attempting to offer potential reasons for your failure (so far) to obtain a post.

    She wasn't racist in any respect, shape or form. Her comments on your written English are pertinent - both she and I, as headteachers, have discarded applications from people when they contained errors (most of these have been from native English speakers, I might add), so (and we don't know because we haven't seen one of your applications) it's a possible issue for you.

    If you don't want people to suggest reasons, please don't start a thread asking what you're doing wrong, because they can only offer suggestions based on the little they know about you.
  20. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    Theo always gives good advice. Your attack on her was not called for. To be honest, if you react like that during an interview I can understand why you haven't got a job. Some people have to attend a lot of interview before they get an appointment.

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