Lesson #1 at International School Hiring Fairs: Bad interviews are good things
September 6, 2011
Bad interviews are good things
“No matter the reputation of the school, the people sitting across from you in the hotel room asking you questions in that school’s name are a stronger indicator of how it would feel to work at that school. I talked to English department heads whose questions – and my answers – made it clear to both of us that we would, or would not, make a happy marriage. There was an unsurprising correlation between this marital element and the offering or non-offering of a position at each school. Schools touting themselves as “21st century schools” and banging their laptop program drums – and during interviews with which I expected flower petals to descend from on high – on an occasion or two turned out to instead voice sentiments belonging to, um, people who’d obviously never experienced the literacy magic that happens after a few months writing and conversing behind the wheel of a blog. No rose-petals there – instead, many mental leaves of wet cabbage fell, probably, in both our imaginations. Marriage for the next two years? We think not. Thank goodness for the bad interview, and for the “We’re sorry we cannot offer you a job at this time.” No apology necessary, really – good luck.”
How wonderful. This idea behind feeling good about bad interviews is perfect. Sometimes we get caught up in all the hoopla at recruitment fairs. We see teacher after teacher getting job offers and then there’s you, not getting ANY offers. We have all been there I’m sure. The worst is when you are in the elevators with the people talking so excitingly about their latest job offers and new contracts they are going to sign the next morning. Like we have said before, it is all about luck and timing. And now, there is a new addition to our quote about job hunting…if you are the right match for each other, it will be glaringly apparent. If you are the right fit for each other, then you are the right fit. It is truly like finding a partner or a spouse in life – you need to be at the right time and at the right place in each others’ lives for things to work out, and you must have some chemistry between each other.
We have all left interviews thinking “Oh, I really would like to have the opportunity to work at this school” knowing deep down that the person didn’t think you were the best fit and knowing even deeper down that you also didn’t think you were the best fit. Sometimes you just want to get affirmation that you are a “good catch” at the international school recruitment fairs (UNI Overseas Placement Fair, Search Associates, International School Services, CIS, etc.) and you want to get job offers from everyone. Some teachers are told to accept and go to all offers to interview. If you do just that, you many times find yourself in hotel rooms with some administrator who is not speaking the same language as you. They are talking and going through their speech about their school, but you are just thinking this is not the person I want to be working with, it is not the school I want to be working at and this is not the country that I want to be living in. At the end of one of our bad interview experiences, the school asked “so what do you think?” and the person responded “I’m sorry, I just don’t think we are a good fit to work together.” They sat there with shocked looks on their faces! Sometimes you just need to be blunt, to get your point across because some schools may not even realize they have also just experienced a bad interview.
Traits and signs that a bad interview is taking place at an international school recruitment fair:
- The administrator is saying to their counterpart “So, who was this person again?”
- They are only talking about the good benefits package and how great it is to live and work there.
- The director is sitting in a corner of the hotel room going through a mess of paperwork on the bed while the principal is interviewing you.
- The people interviewing you are literally arguing how you are not a good fit. (e.g. “We usually only hire people from the UK.” “We are looking to hire someone locally for the position.”)
- The administrators are not even asking you questions about teaching only about if they can find a way to hire you that would be in agreement with the laws of the host country (or ways to get around it).
- The interviewers are coming across as far superior than you and can’t stop talking about their school as if it was a top-tier international school, when indeed they are truly not!
- The person interviewing you doesn’t even physically work at the school you would be working at and they are only talking about how great the company is that owns the school.
“Nine lessons learned” taken from The Wonderful World of International School Hiring Fairs article by Clay Burell’s blog Beyond School.