After a week of careful planning for the NSW DEC Graduate Recruitment Program Interview and 30 minutes later, it’s over. An email stating that you’re ‘suitable for employment’ as a teacher is all there is show of that relieving moment when you realise you’re almost at that point where career meets passion (on the condition I don’t fail miserably at teaching in the next 9 weeks). No matter how many times you hear from people that the interview is like a casual conversation or a walk in the park, it’s still quite a daunting experience taking the tiny elevator up to Level 2 of that strange white building in Blacktown. After a seemingly endless walk down a dimly lit corridor towards the reception desk, you’re greeted by a mosaic of colour and student artwork that adorns the front of the room. Mark your name off and head over to the sofas by the waiting area where you’re again greeted by other pre-service teachers nervously waiting for their turn in the firing line.
But in all seriousness, the interview was one of the most positive experiences that I’ve ever had in an interview scenario (and I’ve had a few) and it’s just a testament to the positive attitudes of teachers and the safe environment they can create even in a situation like this (YEW!).
My interviewer was an ex-principal and was one of the nicest people I’ve come across my entire life (no exaggeration). They take your supporting statement and professional experience reports, check your ID and leave you for a while to skim through your brief teaching experience and history. After about 15 minutes, they come and collect you again and guide you over to a room separated by dividers where other interviews are taking place – talk about open learning spaces, the DEC have even embraced open interview spaces! Armed with a cup of water, the interview kicks off and it’s go, go, go from there…
They ask you seven questions, each based on one of the Teaching Standards below:
- Standard 1: Know students and how they learn
- Standard 2: Know the content and how to teach it
- Standard 3: Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning
- Standard 4: Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments
- Standard 5: Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning
- Standard 6: Engage in professional learning
- Standard 7: Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community
As you give your answers, the interviewer is frantically taking down as many notes as they can as they aren’t the ones that make the final call on suitability to teach or for targeted placements – they’re on your side. They want to get amazing people like you into NSW public schools to make a difference in the lives of millions of children (at least that’s what she told me).
From what I recall, I was asked questions along the lines of:
- Standard 1: What are the factors for diversity in the classroom? Pick one factor and detail how you will address this in your classroom.
- Standard 2: Pick a stage and describe what content students should know at this stage with regards to Numeracy and Literacy.
- Standard 3: As a teacher you will come across difficult behaviour at school. How would you deal with this behaviour inside and outside of the classroom?
- Standard 4: How would you implement ICT in your classroom and what are the factors and learning considerations you must make?
- Standard 5: Describe what forms of assessment you would use in your classroom and how you would give feedback to students and parents?
- Standard 6: Why is professional learning important and how would you approach your professional learning at school?
- Standard 7: Why is it important to consider ethics and ethical behaviour as a teacher in NSW schools?
- Child Protection: What steps do you take if there is a risk of abuse or harm to a student or a student makes a disclosure?
Overall, the questions were quite straightforward but in hindsight, did require some preparation and knowledge of practical application using what we’ve learnt and experienced throughout professional experience. You need to know how to approach things on a holistic level but also use specific examples from professional experience to show how to address these considerations or issues.
The whole process is over within 30-40 minutes so for those of you overthinking it like I did, I hope this information helps.
Tips for the interview:
- Start the process early. You can apply for Eligibility if you’re in your final year of study so why not get it over and done with? Follow the steps on the teach.NSW GRP Website and book the interview in advance because some others from my course weren’t able to find an interview time slot in Blacktown. So unless you want to take a road trip to Wollongong – do this sooner rather than later.
- Smile, relax and be confident. This was the best advice from my supervisor.
- Put yourself in the shoes of a classroom teacher with your own classroom. What would you do?
- Give specific examples – the interviewer writes EVERYTHING down. The more information they write, the more the assessors can base their assessment on and it makes sense if you can describe in detail how you have practically dealt with some of the situations they raise.
- Park at Westpoint Shopping Centre – 3 hours free parking and it’s a 5 minute walk! Go out the Patrick Street Exit and walk towards Main Street. Once you pass Morning Glory (they had some cool socks with piano keys printed on them – 3 for $10), it’s on the righthand side opposite the station.
What I’ve learnt through my experience with teachers so far is that they enjoy helping each other and have an urge to provide you with the greatest opportunity to succeed.
Why else did we go into this profession if it’s not to inspire others to reach their full potential?