The Shearin Group Leadership Training in Hong Kong on Tips for Passing Practical Assessments

10 tips for passing practical assessments when applying for a senior teaching job

Your CV has made the cut, now it’s time for presentations, demonstration lessons and psychometric tests. Here’s how to prepare for success

Interviews for teaching jobs used to involve a half-hour chat to a panel of well-meaning governors. But these days, they are more like physical and psychological assault courses with presentations, demonstration lessons, psychometric tests, observations and in-tray exercises. And if you’re applying for a senior teaching job, you need to prepare yourself for the practical tests as well as the formal interview.

Demonstration lessons

Give a lesson plan to the observers beforehand so if it all goes horribly wrong at least they know what you intended to achieve. Detail how you plan to differentiate and show progress, even if there wasn’t time during the demo lesson.

Mary Glynn, candidate development manager at Prospero Teaching, says: “The first question the panel are likely to ask at the formal interview will be about evaluating your performance in practical things like the demo lesson. Focus on answering this well – show you are a reflective teacher and can justify the decisions you made.”

Be ready to explain at interview how you differentiated, especially for EAL or SEN, how you planned for progress, justify why you changed tack or improvised and acknowledge any mistakes you made.

Don’t expect parity, though. You could get a tough year 9 group when another candidate gets sweet little year 7s. Your lesson might have to be taught after the formal interview while another might be interviewed before.

Presentations

You are likely to be asked to do a 10-minute presentation on the role you are applying for. You might be asked about your vision for the English department or how you would take forward safeguarding, pastoral care or behaviour in the school. Here’s how to deliver a cracking presentation:

Plan a beginning, middle and an end – basically tell a story in about why you are right for the job.

Your beginning (maximum two minutes). Think A,B,C and D:

A is for attention – get the panel’s attention with an arresting quote or statistic.

B is for benefit – what is the interview panel about to learn from you in next 10 minutes? Summarise it in 15 seconds.

C is for credentials – tell them (again in 15 seconds) what your credentials are.

D is for direction – give them a 20-second outline of the structure of your presentation so they’ll remember it once you have finished.

Your middle (maximum seven minutes). This is your content, the meat in the sandwich. Give a compelling outline of your vision supplemented perhaps by a diagram or infographic, maybe a few stats, a very short video clip all on half a dozen PowerPoint slides.

Your ending (maximum one minute). Finish with a call to action or an inspiring line that sums up you and what you will do.

Lesson observations

You are required to observe someone else’s lesson to test whether you can identify outstanding teaching. They’ll be looking to assess the quality of your written and oral feedback, your confidence to assess what you observed or a coaching tip to develop skill and technique. You also need to show a wider appreciation of your subject knowledge or leadership potential.

In-tray exercises

These test your ability to prioritise and cope under pressure. Can you deal with a dozen things coming at you at once? How will you prioritise urgent matters like multiple staff absences, coursework deadlines and the school boiler breaking down all on the same morning? You can prepare for these by searching for examples on the internet. Search for “in-tray exercises for teachers” – Exeter University and @TeacherToolKit has them. There are no right answers but practising helps you prepare.

Psychometric tests

These are a harder to prepare for because they are supposed to objectively test your mental ability, aptitude and personality. You may be asked to engage with a variety of exercises that test your verbal and numerical ability or your abstract, spatial or mechanical reasoning. I did one for a headship with the three other candidates for the job that involved building a three-foot high tower with paper clips and sheets of A4. It was worse than an episode of The Apprentice.

The Shearin Group Leadership Training in Hong Kong: Sushi Maki CEO’s five tips for growing your business

The success of South Florida’s popular local restaurant chain Sushi Maki didn’t come overnight. Its founder and CEO, Abe Ng, suffered the failure of another business before figuring out how to stay afloat in Miami’s local economy.

Ng’s first restaurant endeavor lasted just two years. Though he and his former business partner are still friends, Ng said the partnership didn’t work. Now he tells his mentees to ask themselves, “Does this person see the world in the same way I do?” before choosing a business partner.

Ng’s parents immigrated to Miami from Hong Kong and started the local Canton Chinese restaurant chain when Ng was a child. He grew up in the family business, learning the lifestyle and business savvy necessary to become an entrepreneur.

Now he runs Canton, as well as Sushi Maki, which grew from one restaurant in Coral Gables to 15 locations all over Miami, including one at MMC.

On Jan. 28, in a speech sponsored by the Center for Leadership as part of their 2015 Leadership Lecture Series, he gave FIU students his five best tips for starting a small business in Miami:

  1. Dream Big, Be Frugal

Sushi Maki was born on a low budget; the company’s first logo was made on Microsoft Word, and its only delivery van was jokingly labeled “008” to give the impression there was a fleet of vehicles.

“If you have a vision, don’t spend your money. Survive,” said Ng. “Some of the best businesses come when you have no money and your back is against the proverbial wall.”

  1. Chief Energy Officer

Being CEO is about more than just running the company. Instead of chief executive officer, Ng sees the CEO’s role as the “chief energy officer.”

At Sushi Maki, Ng takes the time to make sure his employees are happy, even when they have to work on holidays. Ng makes sure to get out on Christmas with his family in tow to visit employees and thank them for working.

“You need to love the journey you’re on and love building teams,” said Ng.

  1. Best-in-class Partnerships

FIU’s Sushi Maki, located in the Graham Center, represents the “power of great relationships” as many of Ng’s employees, including his sister-turned-business partner, are FIU graduates.

Sushi Maki has a diverse range of partnerships, from a restaurant at Miami International Airport to his newest endeavor, sushi stations inside South Florida Whole Foods stores.

Ng’s advice to young entrepreneurs: “Be in a good partnership for the long haul.”

  1. Open Networks

“Make yourselves available to be mentored,” said Ng. Outside of the support and training he received growing up in a family that owned a restaurant, Ng found a mentor in FIU graduate and Pollo Tropical founder Larry Harris. Now he sees it as his responsibility to offer advice and support to people trying to start a business.

Ng also said having a strong support network, especially in your family, is the key to keeping a new business afloat. His whole family works for Sushi Maki.

“When you jump into a business, you need everybody on board,” he said.

  1. What’s Next?

A good businessperson always has the future in mind. Ng said his goal for Sushi Maki is to get “better before bigger.”

While taking risks can be important, Ng said he’s not a big believer in leveraging credit cards and dropping out of school to start a business. Sticking with things and finishing projects, even if they aren’t successful, is key.

“You can’t learn everything in one year,” said Ng. “Don’t overvalue the next opportunity and undervalue the opportunity that you have today.”

For more tips and guide for leadership, Shearin Group Training Services Inc. will help you. Shearin Group Training Services leadership programs have been assisting companies in France. With leaders at different levels have availed of our leadership training programs.

The Shearin Group Leadership Training in Hong Kong: Are you a hack waiting to happen? Your boss wants to know

The next phishing email you get could be from your boss.

With high-profile security breaches on the rise, from Sony Pictures to Anthem, companies are on the defensive. And they want to make sure their employees are not a hack waiting to happen.

Data show phishing emails are more and more common as entry points for hackers. Unwittingly clicking on a link in a scam email could unleash malware into a network or provide other access to cyberthieves.

So a growing number of companies, including Twitter Inc., are giving their workers a pop quiz, testing security savvy by sending spoof phishing emails to see who bites.

“New employees fall for it all the time,” said Josh Aberant, postmaster at Twitter, during a data privacy town hall meeting recently in New York City.

Falling for the fake scam offers a teachable moment that businesses hope will ensure employees won’t succumb to a real threat. It’s even a niche industry: companies like Wombat Security and PhishMe offer the service for a fee.

Phishing is very effective, according to Verizon’s 2014 data breach investigations report, one of the most comprehensive in the industry. Eighteen percent of users will visit a link in a phishing email which could compromise their data, the report found.

Not only is phishing on the rise, the phish are getting smarter. Criminals are “getting clever about social engineering,” said Patrick Peterson, CEO of email security company Agari. As more people wise up to age-old PayPal and bank scams, for example, phishing emails are evolving. You might see a Walgreens gift card offer or a notice about President Barack Obama warning you about Ebola.

The phishing tests recognize that many security breaches are the result of human error. A recent study by the nonprofit Online Trust Alliance found that of more than 1,000 breaches in the first half of 2014, 90 percent were preventable and more than 1 in 4 were caused by employees, many by accident.

Fake phishing emails are indistinguishable from the real ones. That’s the point. In one sent out by Wombat, the subject reads “Email Account Security Report – Unusual Activity.” The email informs the recipient that his or her account will be locked for unusual activity such as sending a large number of undeliverable messages. At the bottom there’s a link that, were this a real phishing email, would infect the recipient’s computer with malicious software or steal password and login information.

If you click?

Up pops a web page: “Oops! The email you just responded to was a fake phishing email. Don’t worry! It was sent to you to help you learn how to avoid real attacks. Please do not share your experience with colleagues, so they can learn too.” It also offers tips on recognizing suspicious messages.

In the 14 years since PhishMe CEO and co-founder Rohyt Belani has been in information security, he says the industry has changed from something a “geek in the back room” was supposed to take care of to something companies now handle at the highest level of management. The nature of the intruder also has changed, from pranksters to criminal organizations and nation-states.

As the security industry developed, he said, so did the idea of the user as “stupid” and the “weakest link,” destined to continue to fall for phishing attempts and other scams. Belani disagrees with that, faulting the security industry for not better training workers.

“We posted posters in hallways, gave out squishy balls, (made) screen savers,” he said. “When was the last time you changed your password because of a squishy ball?”

While phishing training emails are a “good cautionary measure,” they aren’t “actually going to strike at the core of the issue,” believes Agari’s Peterson. He, along with large Internet companies such as Facebook Inc., Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp., support establishing a standard that makes it impossible for scammers to impersonate your bank, social network or other business in an email. Think of it as a verification system for emails. For now, though, this seems a long way off.

So, at Pinnacle Financial Partners in Nashville, Tennessee, employees will continue to receive fake phishing emails, about one a quarter. The results are reported to the company’s audit committee and board of directors, said Chief Information officer Randy Withrow. Since the 800-employee company started the Wombat program Withrow said it has seen a 25 percent drop in successful phishing attempts.

Workers “take it very personally” when they fall for it, he said. “They become apologetic and wonder, ‘how did I miss it?'”

Luckily for Pinnacle, it was only a test.