Tips for a top application

March 3, 2016 10:56 am

By Jack Watt, Admissions Manager

If you’re reading this, you’re likely thinking about submitting an application with Teach For Australia. This marks the first step of what could be an incredibly exciting journey for you.

In 2011, I was in your shoes: filling out the application, and then going through the selection process, before being placed to teach Science, Humanities and English at Kolbe Catholic College in Melbourne’s outer suburbs. My time as a TFA Associate was my most formative professional experience, and I know that it will be the same for many of you.

TFA is often described as a highly selective pathway. This is true – historically, just 9% of people who apply enter the classroom through our program. Our kids deserve the best.

But for this reason, over the years, we’ve noticed that some people have ‘self-selected out’ from applying, even though their experiences may otherwise have made a strong application. While TFA is selective, you’re not actually in competition with anyone else. Anyone who meets the benchmarks will be extended an offer to participate.

Jack Watt at Initial Intensive

Working with new Associates at Initial Intensive

I’m writing this because I wish that I had been able to access this information when I was putting together my application. Please use the tips below to put your best foot forward and complete your application. Remember, the first round deadline is April 2nd 2017.

tips for the TFA selection process:

1. If TFA was a usual job-posting, the 8 competencies would be our selection criteria. During selection, all competencies are assessed multiple times by multiple assessors, with the view that Associates meet bench mark in all competencies.

2. When selecting examples throughout the selection process, choose experiences from your time at university, professional experiences, or from your work in voluntary organisations (as opposed to personal experiences or examples from secondary school).

3. Use the best example that directly answers the question, and best demonstrates your role in the context of the question, rather than second-guessing the type of responses you think we want to hear about.

4. Where possible, please use the first person when answering questions, as your specific role and individual responsibilities are what we’re interested in.

5. When answering questions in an interview, there are a number of frameworks that will assist you in structuring a response. Here is a good write up about the STAR structure.

6. Your responses throughout the selection process provide the assessors with an evidence base to make an assessment on your strengths. At the Online Application, assessors cannot ask any follow-up questions, so ensure that you include evidence of your achievements in full.

7. Prepare thoroughly for each stage of the selection process. Yes, it’s an open book exam, but spending time carefully reflecting on a range of experiences prior, including the details of your individual impact, will ensure that you are best-placed to succeed in the selection activities.

8. Our recruitment team is here to help. We are looking for a diversity of experiences and every Associate is unique in their life journey. So please get in touch with the team for an informal chat, before you submit your application, to ask any questions you have about the program and whether this is the best path for you.

9. Check your application for spelling and grammar errors.  Proofreading is also an opportunity for you to reflect – do you think that you have answered each of the questions to the best of your ability?

Good luck!

Check out the application

(Image:  Willian Real under Creative Commons license via Flickr.)