Should I proceed with this school or is it a sign of what it's like there?

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TeacherTraining1
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A year ago I had an interview there for a small role - a part-time Sports and Leisure Assistant. I applied, got an impersonalised interview email, and arrived ten minutes before. I was surprised there were a few people there already (I just assumed they would have booked them in at different times, rather than cattle-herding). More and more turned up. Okay. Not the best situation - sitting in an awkward and small room literally seeing your competition. The lady comes round and asks for our names, wrote them on the list. Then she says she's waiting for three or four others. She disappears. Okay, so we have to wait half an hour over the interview start time because they're waiting on 3 or 4 people who can't be bothered to turn up on time? Found that the most insulting of the experience, since if they don't make it on time tough luck - we shouldn't have to wait on literally strangers. Then we go in one by one depending on who arrived first (guess that's fair) but that meant I had to wait almost 2 hours for a ten to twenty minute slot - ending up being no more than ten minutes. People would walk by and say good luck and stuff, which was nice of them but felt like an unnecessary stage of all this, somewhat cattle-like.

Anyway, every month they sent the same interview invitation email without even consulting with me whether I'm still looking for a job. Point is, now with the pandemic and limited jobs, they (another agency) are wanting me to be a teaching assistant there (with a hopes of teaching if all goes well). I like assisting but don't want to teach, I don't think (unless a school environment shows to be quite good for that). I also would prefer to steer away from education altogether, but I only ever get calls backs from TA positions. I'm wondering - is this school a bad one? Or was that a normal process for non-teaching jobs at schools? Does my prior experience with them (albeit not a teaching one) indicate any issues or positive aspects?
Last edited by TeacherTraining1; 3 weeks ago
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Englishteacher24
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(Original post by TeacherTraining1)
A year ago I had an interview there for a small role - a part-time Sports and Leisure Assistant. I applied, got an impersonalised interview email, and arrived ten minutes before. I was surprised there were a few people there already (I just assumed they would have booked them in at different times, rather than cattle-herding). More and more turned up. Okay. Not the best situation - sitting in an awkward and small room literally seeing your competition. The lady comes round and asks for our names, wrote them on the list. Then she says she's waiting for three or four others. She disappears. Okay, so we have to wait half an hour over the interview start time because they're waiting on 3 or 4 people who can't be bothered to turn up on time? Found that the most insulting of the experience, since if they don't make it on time tough luck - we shouldn't have to wait on literally strangers. Then we go in one by one depending on who arrived first (guess that's fair) but that meant I had to wait almost 2 hours for a ten to twenty minute slot - ending up being no more than ten minutes. People would walk by and say good luck and stuff, which was nice of them but felt like an unnecessary stage of all this, somewhat cattle-like.

Anyway, every month they sent the same interview invitation email without even consulting with me whether I'm still looking for a job. Point is, now with the pandemic and limited jobs, they (another agency) are wanting me to be a teaching assistant there (with a hopes of teaching if all goes well). I like assisting but don't want to teach, I don't think (unless a school environment shows to be quite good for that). I also would prefer to steer away from education altogether, but I only ever get calls backs from TA positions. I'm wondering - is this school a bad one? Or was that a normal process for non-teaching jobs at schools? Does my prior experience with them (albeit not a teaching one) indicate any issues or positive aspects?
I don't think an interview email can really be personal - my interview invitation was "personal" in that it was addressed to me specifically; other than that, the content was delivered in a matter of fact way. Not writing my name on the interview invitation wouldn't be enough to put me off, though I can definitely understand why it made you feel undervalued. As long as they used my name in person, I'd forgive the "error". With so many applicants, the school may have chosen convenience over professionalism, which isn't necessarily the right choice, but it is understandable.

I was at my interview 30+ minutes before - I wanted to make sure I was there on time and left time for delays etc. If I arrived to an interview 10 minutes before the arranged time, I would expect others to be there. As long as you are on time, that's what matters but there will always be people that arrive early.

Interview days can be arranged differently. For my interview, all applicants turned up for the same time but we had different tasks to complete at different times throughout the day so we didn't feel herded. All the applicants had a chat in reception and in the office with the department - competition is an inevitable part of applying for any job and I don't think it's fair to expect the school to keep you entirely isolated from each other, just because you are worried about going up against someone else (which is the whole premise of an interview). It's part of the process rather than the school, if that makes sense. It seems unusual to me that they didn't arrange interviews in advance but I don't know whether this is normal in some schools - I can only speak from my experiences.

You are making a lot of assumptions about the people who didn't make it on time. Yes, it isn't a great start to have poor punctuality and it can be frustrating, especially when you feel as if you are a better candidate. However, how do you know that those applicants didn't have exceptional circumstances for being late? There is also an element of punishment in being required to wait a long time to be interviewed. I guarantee it also won't work in their favour - I doubt poor punctuality, without good reason, would be overlooked by a school, especially with so many candidates to choose from. You have taken offense to waiting for late applicants (and I think the school should have been prepared to start interviewing on time and should have been more discreet about waiting for late applicants), but you don't know the causes or repercussions of the candidates' punctuality - not everything is personal, though it can seem this way.

Things in schools don't always run smoothly. Things can run late really easily or change without warning. When I was teaching my mini-lesson, I - without realising - went over the allotted time. This was my fault and I assume it had some impact, however small, on the timings of the next session. This was not the school's fault, really. It's inconvenient but, again, a bit of waiting wouldn't necessarily be enough to put me off.

I would have expected the school to make your waiting time constructive by setting an appropriate task. I would have been irritated at my time being wasted in this way. This may have been a deal breaker for me. It is worth noting that you are free to leave the interview at any time. Once you realised you would be required to wait a while for an interview and that the interviews were short (I am making the assumption that you didn't think the interview process was thorough), you could have said that, while you appreciate the invitation to interview given to you by the school, you have decided to withdraw your application. You were not obliged to stay.

I personally think well-wishes are nice - while superficial, I'd rather someone said something supportive rather than something negative. Why would you find this dehumanising? I wouldn't want to work in a school where staff are not civil towards each other, saying hello and the like. So many conversations I have consist of 'good morning' / a friendly nod / phatic communication.

I don't think this interview process sounds like the worst interview process to ever exist but it definitely wouldn't earn the school any awards. I also don't think that the interview process can be taken as a reflection of a school, though it can highlight potential problems in the school's organisation. A good school is determined by more than its interview process, like the staff culture, the marking policy etc. If you are working in a great department, that can make a "bad" school better. Also, you don't seem to be very passionate about education (based on your comments about doing TA work, you do it out of necessity rather than choice) which may affect how you experience school life. A lack of love for your work can make a good school (and any job, in fact) seem worse than it is.
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TeacherTraining1
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(Original post by Englishteacher24)
I don't think an interview email can really be personal - my interview invitation was "personal" in that it was addressed to me specifically; other than that, the content was delivered in a matter of fact way. Not writing my name on the interview invitation wouldn't be enough to put me off, though I can definitely understand why it made you feel undervalued. As long as they used my name in person, I'd forgive the "error". With so many applicants, the school may have chosen convenience over professionalism, which isn't necessarily the right choice, but it is understandable.

I was at my interview 30+ minutes before - I wanted to make sure I was there on time and left time for delays etc. If I arrived to an interview 10 minutes before the arranged time, I would expect others to be there. As long as you are on time, that's what matters but there will always be people that arrive early.

Interview days can be arranged differently. For my interview, all applicants turned up for the same time but we had different tasks to complete at different times throughout the day so we didn't feel herded. All the applicants had a chat in reception and in the office with the department - competition is an inevitable part of applying for any job and I don't think it's fair to expect the school to keep you entirely isolated from each other, just because you are worried about going up against someone else (which is the whole premise of an interview). It's part of the process rather than the school, if that makes sense. It seems unusual to me that they didn't arrange interviews in advance but I don't know whether this is normal in some schools - I can only speak from my experiences.

You are making a lot of assumptions about the people who didn't make it on time. Yes, it isn't a great start to have poor punctuality and it can be frustrating, especially when you feel as if you are a better candidate. However, how do you know that those applicants didn't have exceptional circumstances for being late? There is also an element of punishment in being required to wait a long time to be interviewed. I guarantee it also won't work in their favour - I doubt poor punctuality, without good reason, would be overlooked by a school, especially with so many candidates to choose from. You have taken offense to waiting for late applicants (and I think the school should have been prepared to start interviewing on time and should have been more discreet about waiting for late applicants), but you don't know the causes or repercussions of the candidates' punctuality - not everything is personal, though it can seem this way.

Things in schools don't always run smoothly. Things can run late really easily or change without warning. When I was teaching my mini-lesson, I - without realising - went over the allotted time. This was my fault and I assume it had some impact, however small, on the timings of the next session. This was not the school's fault, really. It's inconvenient but, again, a bit of waiting wouldn't necessarily be enough to put me off.

I would have expected the school to make your waiting time constructive by setting an appropriate task. I would have been irritated at my time being wasted in this way. This may have been a deal breaker for me. It is worth noting that you are free to leave the interview at any time. Once you realised you would be required to wait a while for an interview and that the interviews were short (I am making the assumption that you didn't think the interview process was thorough), you could have said that, while you appreciate the invitation to interview given to you by the school, you have decided to withdraw your application. You were not obliged to stay.

I personally think well-wishes are nice - while superficial, I'd rather someone said something supportive rather than something negative. Why would you find this dehumanising? I wouldn't want to work in a school where staff are not civil towards each other, saying hello and the like. So many conversations I have consist of 'good morning' / a friendly nod / phatic communication.

I don't think this interview process sounds like the worst interview process to ever exist but it definitely wouldn't earn the school any awards. I also don't think that the interview process can be taken as a reflection of a school, though it can highlight potential problems in the school's organisation. A good school is determined by more than its interview process, like the staff culture, the marking policy etc. If you are working in a great department, that can make a "bad" school better. Also, you don't seem to be very passionate about education (based on your comments about doing TA work, you do it out of necessity rather than choice) which may affect how you experience school life. A lack of love for your work can make a good school (and any job, in fact) seem worse than it is.
Thank you for the reply. I disagree on a few points and you might have over-analysed the situation based on a snippet of text, but I think that might be down to me not expanding/clarifying. I would debate a few, though I don't want to turn anything into a debate. The position was really just a 'low' role (can't think of a better word, it's late) and those who didn't turn up were likely unprofessional. I mean, we had people there in jeans, hoodies, not exactly interview attire but not needed for the mostly-working-alone role. I've had more professional retail interviews, and those roles attracted the same level of people - school leavers and people without degrees. I also never implied well-wishes were not nice etc. but again too many points for me to address. But your responses definitely helped, as I feel it's made me more clear where I want to go in life/career.
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