Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The interview process

This week I had an interview for a new job. I haven't done that for a while, and certainly haven't gone for a job like this before. The process was one that I realised we never get any training for. This also led me to thinking about our students. I was talking with students (and my own children) who are now applying for jobs and University and realised that we don't prepare them very well for filling out forms, knowing what to write in their CV or what to say at an interview. I know our careers department do this well when they see students, but they don't always see them all. What are we doing to educate them on these life skills?

The application was straight forward. I did some background work on the role and what sort of things they would be expecting. Got my CV up to date - that took some time - and got it in with a letter I was happy with.

My interview required a 20 minute presentation about the job and what skills and expertise I could bring to it. I did a bit of a panic - I don't talk for 20 minutes in front of my class so how was I going to do this in front of a panel! The presentation took me hours to prepare, much longer than I thought it would. Making sure I included all of my skills, finding some quotes I wanted to back up my thoughts, thinking of some more light-hearted moments, making it look professional (and pretty) all took time, and more than I thought it would! Running it through in front of other colleagues and getting feedback was the most beneficial. They could see the gaps I had and gave valuable advice on how I could improve. I am very grateful to Carmen Kenton and Natalie Collier for their insight. Making sure I included everything I wanted to say was vital. I really didn't want to come out of my interview thinking "I wish I had mentioned that". I am pleased I spent the time on it. It will be a good base for any other job I might want to apply for.

So the day came yesterday and the decision of what to wear was huge! I am not a clothes person, in the sense that I just have a work wardrobe and very few dresses! I came to work with a few choices, depending on the howling nor'west and the forecast 23 degrees, the flowing skirt might not be the best option by the afternoon. Luckily I was teaching all morning so the time went quickly. The bright dress option won and the makeup went on (I don't wear that except for special occasions). It felt good to be well-dressed and it gave me confidence. The nerves hit for a bit, but I was pleased that I had done the preparation.

The presentation went well. The technology worked, always a sigh of relief, and I felt confident and calm. 12 questions to answer. It was really nice to have them all written on a piece of paper in front of me. I could glance ahead, and reread anything I didn't quite grasp at first. I also felt the questions were a good indication of what they were looking for. I have been thinking about the questions and my answers a lot, and thinking about how I wish I had had an idea of what sort of questions they might ask - hence this blog. I want to be able to be well prepared in the future, as well as reflect on what some of the questions asked of me. These are some of the generic ones, which I wanted to reflect on and share. They are questions we should ask ourselves more often I think.

Why do I want to work there and why do I want the job? 
Simple and sensible question, but do we ask this of ourselves very often? I thought about it afterwards and realised it wasn't something I had really asked myself in a way that I could explain to others. I knew I wanted it, and I love the school, but how do you get that across without waffling?

Tell them about a mistake I had made and how I had learnt from it.
This is hard to think of on the fly. I think I'll write a list for future reference!!

Tell them about a conflict and how I had resolved it.
Same with this. Once I had a situation in my head it was easy, but just pulling one out made me think for a bit.

If I was in another staff member's shoes, what qualities would they say I had?
How do others see me? It was really useful having the sessions with Carmen and Natalie, as they had given me some qualities to add that they felt I had. This certainly made it easier to answer this. It's good to think about how others see me. I thought about this a lot last night.

Where do I see myself in 5-7 years?
Good question! Where do I see myself? What are my ambitions? Where am I heading? I know that I don't want to be a Principal. I know that I do want to work with students and staff. I know I want to make a difference. I know that I want this step up to the next level and I know that it will be a good fit for me if I get it, but where to from there?

Give 3 reasons why they should appoint me.
This just summed up what I had said during the interview. Hard to put into 3 short sentences, and I am sure I could have given them a lot more reasons, but 3 it was.

I felt good coming out from the interview. I did everything I could possibly do to show them my skills and tell them about me and what I could offer. I am happy that I did my best. If I don't get the job I know that I am not the right person for it and whoever does get it has the skills they are looking for. Happy with that.

Now I wait for the phone call.
Update... didn't get the job.  Obviously not the one for me.  Looking forward to the next interview!

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