Surviving…and thriving at a Job Fair

Confused by all the instructions sent to you by the organizers? How do you ask for an interview slot with a school at signup? What are the must have questions you need to ask? How much time do you have to mull over that offer? GGE Managing Director Rory Galvin outlines the things you need to know to ensure you’re fully prepared for that Job Fair.


Know your Value

Ok- so I’m  going to let you in on a little secret. If  you are a veteran of this malarkey, you will know this already- but, the balance of power lies with the candidates at a job fair, not with the recruiters. That’s right, I said it. Confused? Think about it. 300 administrators have flown halfway around the world specifically for one reason- to hire teachers like you. It is an expensive process and if they do not fill their quotas, questions will be asked. They are competing with other schools with different salary packages, terms and conditions and advantages and disadvantages; and they are ready to make offers to bag hires as early as they can. So take confidence in the knowledge that you are a sought after commodity, and your stock during the weekend of the fair, is rising. Especially if you teach any of the STEM subjects or you are a counsellor or a librarian as these tend to be hard positions to fill. So expect offers and make sure you know what your bottom line is.


Physically prepare

Perhaps oft overlooked, but in reality spending a weekend interviewing with schools is a physically      demanding endeavour. Make sure that you build in times for meal breaks so that the blood sugar doesn’t    let you down during in the inevitable question on how you differentiate. Cut back on the caffeine. As a caffeine freak myself, it can get too easy to have a quick double espresso before every interview which leads to a jumpy, heart-palpitating candidate.  Hydrate as much as possible as the hotel can be stuffy, and make sure that you take a wander outside once in a while for some fresh air. Whilst it’s a great idea to meet up with friends and have a few drinks, avoid overdoing it as a full day of interviewing with a hangover is no fun. Trust me.

Do your Research

You may already have an idea of where you want to go, and you may even have already lined up interviews with those schools. The weeks and days prior to the fair are the times to ensure that you know exactly what is on offer and what the advantages and disadvantages are of each school. You need to know what the cost of living is, how much you want to save, whether the country is a good fit for you in your context, how easy it is to travel to/from. It is useful to attend the school presentation session, but remember you may be interviewing with other schools at that time. Ideally you should be in a position where you have whittled down the schools you like and you are ready to target them. If that is the case, make sure you contact them ahead of time so they know you are interested and they have the opportunity to view your profile.

Less is more

Remember there is a finite amount of time to bag that job. The same goes for the recruiters so if you are not really interested in a position; politely decline the invite. The recruiters will thank you for it as that way nobody’s time is wasted. Similarly, if you are requesting an interview, chances are that they have already reviewed you profile and you are not a fit; or perhaps they overlooked you. If it is the former, a good recruiter will decline the chance to interview you. Don’t take it personally- time is at a premium and it is intense enough without going through a process with a foregone conclusion.

Questions to ask at interview

Questions you want to ask at interview will differ from the usual ones you might ask in your home country as obviously you are not just moving jobs, but you are moving your life also. You will still want to cover the usual aspects such as the school culture, the ways the curriculum is delivered, resources available, what kind of career progression is there, how much support for CPD, how and when the staff collaborate, what are the expectations for  staff regarding school events and activities etc etc. However, you also want to find out about the cost of living, safety of the country, what the medical plan covers (and does not cover),  how the school  inducts new staff, what the negatives and positives are of the school and the country. A good recruiter will be able to answer all of these question so that you can frame a decision if it comes to a job offer.

Accepting an offer

So you’ve done the interview and you may even have had a call-back or two to clarify things and there is an offer on the table. It is time to put pen to paper. Now is the time to do some fine tuning. And it begins with the contract. It sounds obvious, but you need to read your contract as if your life depends on it- because in truth, many aspects of it does. A good idea is to make a copy of it, and annotate it line by line writing questions you may have in the margins so that you can refer to them in the call back. Remember, at this stage they have signalled their intent; you’ve passed your interview and your references check out so, no question is a silly question. If you haven’t already, I would ask for the contact details of a staff member at the school. Good recruiters will have a staff member on standby so that you can call them and speak to them for impartial advice and the skinny on the school. Finally, remember to ask for a timeline by which you can accept or reject the offer. Again, good recruiters will give you at least 24 hours to consider an offer. Do not ever let a recruiter pressure you into making a decision at interview- this is unethical and grounds for you to make a complaint.



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