I wrote this in the wake of what initially felt like the end of the world: being unsuccessful in interviewing for a further maternity cover at my school, that would have allowed me to stay for another year. I was crushed because I’ve loved working at that school, with wonderful children and fantastic colleagues. But I’ve made peace with it and I’m looking ahead now to what the future may bring. I’m also bringing some advice and encouragement for any trainees looking for that first post, who are feeling a bit beaten-down by the experience of rejection.
It happened. That thing you dreaded. You polished your application, you worked towards an interview, you were put through your paces and then you waited for a call. You tried not to let your imagination run away with you, but you couldn’t help imagining how things might be in September. You visualised a classroom, a room full of children, a scenario free of social distancing (I never said your imagination was realistic! Mine certainly wasn’t.) Maybe you loved the school, maybe it was really convenient geographically, or maybe you’d set your heart on it because it was the first interview after an endless stream of unsuccessful applications. But the call came and it wasn’t the answer you had hoped for.
1. Realise that it’s not personal
It’s really not, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Maybe you weren’t the most knowledgeable, maybe you weren’t the most confident, or maybe you had passion by the bucketload that you think your interviewers somehow missed.
The truth of the matter is this: the panel are there to choose the person who best fits their school. Any number of factors can come into this, but if someone else fits better than you on interview day then they will get the job. Simple as, unfortunately. It’s not about the panel choosing who they like best – they have to balance the skills already present in the staff at school, they have to consider your experience (or lack thereof, to put it bluntly) and any number of other considerations applicable to the school at that moment in time.
Just because you didn’t get that job, doesn’t mean you’re never going to get any job.
2. Ask for feedback
You may have your feedback given during the rejection phone call.
Write. It. Down.
It may seem small and seemingly insignificant, but it might be the small push over the finishing line in your next application or interview. And if it’s something small, it might be something simple to remedy, so it’s definitely worth remembering!
If you’re not offered feedback in your initial call, don’t be afraid to ask for it, either in an additional phone call or by email. Any feedback you can build into further applications is valuable.
3. Be kind to yourself!
It is a setback, not to be offered a job when you feel you’ve worked hard towards the application and interview process. Waiting for the interview itself and then the resulting phone call can be seriously nerve-wracking and plenty of people lose sleep over the experience! So be kind to yourself in the aftermath of a rejection. (I am fully condoning a duvet cocoon if that’s your style!) How would you treat a friend if they told you they had been unsuccessful with a job application? Chances are, you’d be reasonable and kind, reminding them there will be other opportunities. You would probably also tell them it’s okay to take some time for themselves to, to come to terms with it all. Take your own advice, or failing that, take mine!
You never know what’s around the corner, so don’t lose hope!
4. Don’t panic!
I’ve already seen so many tweets from NQT’s-to-be, worried that they won’t get a job for September because they haven’t been appointed yet. Even as a current NQT I might be inclined to lose my head with panic right now, were I not in possession of a few important facts.
The deadline for standing teachers to resign their post for the next academic year is May 31st. Meaning that interviews until then will likely have teachers with far more experience competing with you. I’m not saying it’s impossible to be appointed by any stretch (plenty of NQTs are, every year) but it’s certainly a little easier for those of us with less experience, from June onwards!
I was hired for my NQT job in early July 2019 and I have heard of people heing hired even later than that. Don’t ever lose hope. Your time will come.
There will still be jobs that appear in the autumn term. Maternity covers will be needed, teachers will leave at short notice due to any number of personal or professional reasons. Schools need teachers at all times of year, not exclusively in the summer term.
5. Have a little faith
I’m assuming that if you’re reading this, you’ve recently experienced The Rejection Call. But I want to put a little positive spin on that, something my housemate reminded me of when I was dwelling on the negative on Wednesday evening.
You wrote a good application and you were invited to interview. That’s huge: some schools receive upwards of sixty applications for a job, sometimes pushing one hundred in some areas. They might call six to interview. If you made it that far, you’re already in the top 10%, probably an even smaller percentage.
You will get there.
You will find the right school.