International School Community Blog

Lesson #2 at International School Hiring Fairs: ‘Energy is eternal delight’ – so its opposite is…?

“Energy is eternal delight” – so its opposite is….?

“(h/t to William Blake who, though dead, deserves eternal credit for the eternally delightful maxim.) If, like mine, your own heart seems to pump more espresso than blood, then it may be important to consider the energy coming from those interviewing you.

I’m not saying interviewers need to be manic or anything; I’m just saying a lack of excitement, of a sort of buoyancy – of even a decorously restrained intensity – when discussing educational vision while courting for a temporary professional marriage may be, well, a screaming red flag.

Granted, the interviewers are stuck in their hotel rooms interviewing candidate after candidate for many more straight hours than the candidates themselves, but still – we’re all teachers, current or past, so we should be pretty good at keeping our energy level up whenever a professional client enters the room, be it classroom or hotel room. The short version? Beware the droopy interviewer, and put a gold star by the inspired/inspiring one. You are, after all, bound to be sitting in many more meetings with them if you sign the contract to work with them. If they’re sleepy, chances are you’ll be a sleepy worker with them. But if they’re exciting – in a way that rings true (and we all have what Hemingway calls a “shock-proof sh!t-detector,” don’t we, to distinguish real from fake excitement, yes?) – then consider fishing your pocket for that ring, and dropping to your knees on the spot.”

It is true, there is nothing like going into somebody’s hotel room to do an interview.  Seems quite strange now that we are thinking about more.  The recruiters seemingly are stuck in their hotel room for the whole day almost, for sure they will lose some of their energy.  However, there are things administrators could do to help the situation.  They can bring some things to make the hotel room appear cozier (e.g. more school logos, lcd projector displaying slide show of their school’s pictures, etc.).  They can change the format of the interview to be less formal and more of a discussion between friends (e.g. offering a nice herbal tea, etc.).  They can also just take a walk around the hotel (inside and outside), talking with the candidate as they go.  I know that last one seems a little outside the box, but really, if international schools that recruit at these recruitment fairs (which are normally held in hotels) think outside the box a little…things just might improve for everyone involved.

We have all had interviews in one of those hotel rooms where the interviewers seem disorganized, unaware really of who is sitting in front of them at the moment.  Some interviewers due indeed look rather confused and out-of-sorts, in a state of mind that doesn’t allow for excitement about their school to come beaming through.  But as Clay Burell is saying, none of these things should matter if that person is truly excited about their school.  It should indeed be quite clear to the candidate whether the administrators enjoy working at their school.  If they don’t appear to be, then it just might be a “red flag” to stay away from that school.

But let’s not forget that there are different cultural norms among all the different kinds of international schools out there.  Some British international schools are a little “stricter” than other international schools.  Some tend to conduct themselves in a more serious straight-faced manner.  That manner might just come across as that person is bored, with a lackluster vision of the school at which they are working.  However, the opposite might just be the case, as they are just putting on a formal show of decorum and professionalism that is more commonly found at a British international school setting.  That school, once you get there, might be a very fun place to work at.  The people there, though a bit formal at meetings and in other functions, might just be exciting and fun to be around in more informal settings.

Overall though, we suggest that you do observe how engaged your interviewer is at international school recruitment fairs.  It could be telling of your future if you get offered a contract and end up working at that school.

“Nine lessons learned” taken from The Wonderful World of International School Hiring Fairs article by Clay Burell’s blog Beyond School.