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What to expect at assessment centre

What to expect at assessment centre

If your online application is successful you will be invited to attend our assessment centre. To ensure a fair process for everyone, your assessors will not have seen your application. They will assess your performance based only on the answers you provide on the day.

Your recruitment officer will also be in touch before your assessment date to talk through the day in more detail, as well as to answer any questions you might have. You can reach out to them at any point to discuss it in more depth.

Your assessment is comprised of the following three main elements, starting with the competency-based interview, and ending with the sample lesson and self-evaluation.

Competency-based interview

You will have a one-on-one interview with an assessor, focusing on how you can demonstrate our competencies. You will also have the chance to ask any questions you may have.

Case study and self-evaluation

This group exercise is designed to test how you think, solve problems, express solutions and interact with other people.

This case study exercise is about understanding how you conduct yourself in a group setting, working together to achieve a task. Listen carefully to the instructions that are given to you at the start of the exercise. Although your assessors will be observing throughout, they will not be allowed to give approval or reassurance so try to fully immerse yourself in the exercise.

The second part of the case study exercise will be a one-on-one discussion with an assessor, providing the opportunity to evaluate both the group and your own performance during the session. Try and be as honest and reflective as possible, demonstrating your ability to give a thoughtful and considered account of your performance.

Sample teaching lesson and self-evaluation

You will be asked to deliver a pre-prepared seven-minute lesson. The assessors will be looking for you to demonstrate your ability to communicate your topic to pupils in an appropriate and creative manner. Once your lesson is over you will be asked to make a structured written evaluation of your performance, which will also form part of the assessment.

Ten days before your assessment centre you will be emailed detailed information and guidance on the seven-minute sample teaching lesson you’ll teach on the day.

Once you know the ‘title’ of your lesson, give yourself time to prepare: do your research, prepare any materials and practise on friends and family to get an idea of your timings. Think about what would make an excellent lesson from a pupil’s perspective when planning your lesson content. It's best to remember that this isn't a "presentation", but a lesson to engage and inspire.
Remember that your self-evaluation after the lesson is also being assessed and is just as important for your final result.

Adjustments at assessment centre
We strongly encourage applicants who have a disability or long-term health condition to share this information with us on their application form. This information is treated with complete confidentiality and is used to help us arrange any adjustments to your assessment and selection process that you may require. If you  require any adjustments please contact recruitment@teachfirst.org.uk or ac@teachfirst.org.uk.

Common mistakes at the assessment centre
Our assessors have listed some common mistakes candidates make in preparation for and at their assessment centre. Take some time to reflect on the below, and think how you'd avoid them:

  • Not being yourself. Nerves and a desire to impress can lead to an exaggerated representation of your personality. Consciously adopting behaviours you believe we are looking for or trying to emulate your favourite teacher is likely to backfire and appear rehearsed or unnatural.
    Our highly skilled assessors are trained to identify talent and potential. We want to meet the real you and to understand what you uniquely bring so try not to overthink your actions and be yourself.
  • Not doing your homework. Lack of preparation can undermine an otherwise strong performance in areas that can be easily addressed ahead of the assessment centre.
    Be sure to use the resources on our website and the support of our recruitment officers effectively. We want to know that you understand what sets us apart and to hear your story.
    We recommend you fully consider what each competency entails and how it would manifest itself in a teaching role? How have your experiences so far enabled you to develop within these areas?
    A week before your assessment day you will receive an email with key information, please read this carefully and follow the suggested guidance. Travel expenses must be printed in advance.
  • Not considering structure and phasing. We respect the challenging nature of an interview and are more than happy to give you time to think. Taking a moment will often result in a more succinct answer. Try to avoid lengthy anecdotes with unnecessary detail. Focus on what has been asked and use the CAR method (Context - Action - Result) to help structure your answers.
    Don’t speak on behalf of a group, we want to hear your individual responsibilities. It is fine to use a team example, but use ‘I’ and not ‘we’ to ensure we can give you credit for your direct actions.
    As a teacher you are a role model and a professional. Dress appropriately and avoid using informal language or verbalising internal dialogue which could be less professional than intended.
  • Not considering your audience. When planning a lesson don’t just focus on your delivery, consider the actions of the pupils and their learning. It is important to consider the age group you are planning for and their likely interests.
    Ask yourself some key questions – Do I have an understanding of what this age group is like? Have I considered their enjoyment of the content? How will I know if they are on track?
    There are many online resources that can support your planning and you may find it helpful to research best practice, particularly if you are unfamiliar with recommended teaching and learning strategies and/or approaches to classroom management.
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