Top 10 tips when looking for a teaching job

Securing a teaching job can be really difficult. For every teaching job, there are at least 80-100 applicants. Competition is high and getting an interview and being successful can be tough.

I have worked in education for ten years and due to being on permanent and supply contracts, I have worked in nearly 50 schools.

Over the years, I have picked up tips which have helped me immensely. We are currently in the season of job hunting for teachers so I decided to put together a list of tips which have helped me over the years and will hopefully help someone else.

1. Look for a job on appropriate websites

As I live in the West Midlands, a website which has helped me a lot when looking for jobs is You can sign up for notifications and whenever a new job comes up, you will receive an email notification. Wherever you live, look on Google for the best teaching job search websites and sign up to them to get notifications.

2. Look at the school website

When you identify a job that you like and before you apply for it, check out the school website. On school websites, the main things I look for are the Ofsted report and the policies.

Ofsted report

In the UK, schools are given a particular grade ranging from “Outstanding” all the way down to “Inadequate”. Over the years, I have learned to ignore the gradings and focus more on what the actual report says.

When you start out as a teacher, you would think it would be better to work for an “Outstanding” school but there are pros and cons to this.

The pros include:

-Lots of support including meetings, courses, etc…

-Good support for NQTs/ECTs

-Clear policies in place

-Better funding

The cons include:

-Extremely high expectations/pressure i.e. SATS/Phonics tests, etc…

-You are constantly monitored with weekly drop-ins, book checks, etc…

– Some “Outstanding” schools are considered Teaching schools which means they constantly have other schools observing them because they are considered the best. You can have 6-7 people observing you and your class at any one time.

If you consider a “Requires Improvement” or “Inadequate” school, again, there are pros and cons to it.

The pros include:

-Lots of support

-Lots of trial and error to see what works for the school

The cons include:

-Still a lot of pressure to raise standards

-Lots of visitors/ inspectors coming into school

-Policies, teaching strategies, assessments constantly being changed to suit Ofsted/professionals not linked to a school

-Not a lot of support for NQTs/ECTs especially in “Inadequate” schools


Marking policy – I always look at a school’s marking policy because it can make or break a teacher’s workload. Some schools I have worked in have a simple ticking policy whereas other schools have a four-way policy which includes self-assessment, peer assessment, in-depth assessment, etc… This adds a huge amount of work to an already heavy workload.


On a website, I also check out how reliant schools are on schemes of work. At the moment, it appears to be the “in” thing to have lots of schemes but again, this can create a lot of work for teachers.

3. Visit a school

After you have looked at the website, go to visit the school. I prefer to book a time either near lunch or after school. These times allow you to see what the work/life balance is like for staff. For example, if you go and visit near lunch, you will see whether staff are eating their lunch while photocopying or are in the staffroom. After school, you will see if staff have gone home early or staying very late.

Also when visiting, make sure to ask anything you want to know that you haven’t found out from the website.

4. Complete the application

When you have looked at the website and visited the school, complete the application. Every teaching application is very different so therefore, it is vital that you read through it and check it completely. As competition is so high, an application could be thrown out for a spelling mistake or an inaccurate copy and paste sentence.

Personal Statements need to be tailored to the school you are applying to. If it is generic, a school will notice this. It is good to mention things that you have identified on the website or on the visit that you liked.

You must get different people to read through your Personal Statement to eliminate any errors before emailing or posting it.

5. Try to get feedback

It can be quite stressful waiting to hear back whether you have got an interview for a job or not. It use to be the case that you would ring a school or email them to check whether they had got your application but now because competition is so high and so many people apply, it is common not to get a confirmation.

If you do not hear anything back from a job, do not worry! It was simply not meant for you and you must carry on.

6. Prepare for the observation

You are normally notified by email or letter if you have got an interview. As part of a teaching interview, you are normally observed teaching a lesson. In your communication from the school, it will state what type of lesson they want you to deliver. Focus in on this. People often go online to look for ideas or activities to do as part of an observation but do be careful with this. There have been times where several teachers have gone for a job and delivered the same lesson that they have found online. This can show they haven’t put much thought into their lesson and simply copied someone else’s. It is better to come up with an idea yourself and ask others whether it sounds ok or how to improve it.

Also, make sure to ring up the school to identify the needs of the children, for example, SEND, behaviour, ability and also, if you will have a teaching assistant to support you. You can then tailor your lesson plan accordingly. You can also enquire what type of technology there is in the classroom. Schools love when you include some form of technology in your lesson.

Make sure you prepare your lesson plan and resources at least a week before the interview day.

Also, photocopy the lesson plan a couple of times so that the observers can have a copy and the teaching assistant.

7. Prepare for the interview

When preparing for an interview, look online for types of questions that you may be asked. Ask different family members or friends to ask you these questions. Even better, ask another colleague to “interview” you as they will be able to identify anything you need to work on.

8. Be prepared the night before

The night before your interview, make sure you have all your resources, lesson plans and outfit ready to go. Also, check how long it will take to get to the school to ensure that you have enough time to get there.

9. Take a deep breath on Interview day

No matter how long you have been a teacher, you will always be nervous on the day of an interview. Make sure you arrive at least half an hour before your interview so you can set up and speak to any appropriate staff.

Normally, a lesson observation will take place first and it will be between 2-4 people who will observe. Following this, the interview commences with 2-4 people on the panel asking questions. At the end of the interview, they normally ask you if you are still interested in the job and you must follow your intuition on this. If, on the day, you don’t think the school is right for you, you must be upfront. Otherwise, if they decide to offer you the job later on and you say no, the school then has to go through the whole interview process again which isn’t fair on them. You will also be asked if you have any questions whereby people normally ask “When will I be informed of your decision?” At this point, no other questions are really relevant as they should have been asked when visiting the school.

10. Wait for the response

A school can ring you a few hours later or a week later (this is quite uncommon though) to inform you of their decision. If they have given you the job, they will let you know when the school will next be in touch to get all your details and when you start your induction with them.

However, if they tell you that you have been unsuccessful, thank them for their time and ask for feedback. Not all schools offer this but if they do, take the chance to listen to what they have to say. It will potentially benefit your next interview.

It can be really hard if you don’t get a job and you can feel really upset about it but I personally believe if it isn’t meant to be, do not push it. Something better is on the horizon.

I hope these 10 tips have been helpful and I wish all those who are applying for a job all the best.