Tuesday, June 3, 2014

And Now For the Interview...

Being engulfed by the "selfie" culture that we live in can prevent us from expressing gratitude for what we have. Whether I recognize them or not, there are countless moments during the course of the school year that should make me thankful for my job.  Some of those experiences are annual and stand out more than others- like working the job fair or participating on an interview team.

Everyone has a unique story about how he/she was hired. And we are the lucky ones. There are plenty of job seekers in our field- and plenty of experienced professionals chasing promotions or changes that crowd our job market.

The truth is, there was a time in our careers, when we were scratching and clawing to get to EXACTLY where we are now.

Since graduating from college, I have interviewed for 13 different jobs inside and outside of my district. I received three offers.  I don't claim to be an expert on interviewing. I don't have a monopoly on the ingredients to land a job and my personal statistics prove that!  I have gained, (I think), some perspective on interviewing and I think these 3 things are true:

1. There is no such thing as preparing too much, or too little. 

I think you can play this both ways. For some positions, it's important to anticipate questions and rehearse how you would answer them. Especially if you applying for a position that may be a stretch based on your qualifications. For new teachers, understanding the basics about the district and becoming a "playful pest" to keep your name in the conversation is important.

I know I have been guilty of coming across disingenuous from being over-prepared, over-thinking the questions, and over-selling myself. That's why I think for some candidates, it is important to just talk conversationally. Exude quiet confidence and let your personality shine through. Less is more in some cases. Do some research to show your interest but stay true to yourself. Find a median of preparation that gives you the confidence to shine.

2. Interviewing is not a "results based" entity.

Evaluating the interview's success or failure by the end result isn't necessarily fair. I think you can blow away an interview committee and still not receive a job offer-if you aren't exactly what they are looking for. Sometimes you can answer all the questions perfectly and maybe another candidate was more perfect. You are likely competing against dozens of well qualified candidates. The point is, you never know exactly why they hire who they do. Don't worry about the result. Process the process, and give it your best shot.

3. Que sera, sera.

I am lucky to have learned from some of the greatest mentors a guy could ask for. My #savmp mentor was my coach throughout my last round of interviews. What we worked on may or may not have helped my answers, but it definitely impacted my mindset. Tony Sinanis helped me realize that if you want something bad enough, it will happen...eventually. I've kept every rejection letter and email I have received over the past 8 years. I promise it's not an OCD or acrimonious practice, but merely a reminder that if it's meant to be, it will be. Those jobs were not meant to be. Trusting this idea is the hardest thing to do, especially if you experience a professional disappointment or cannot break through with that first job.

Interviewing is an imperfect science. I suppose there are some wrong answers, but I don't know if there are right ones either. What advice would you give someone who was interviewing for their dream job?