On interviewing

This blog has been quieter than I thought it would be this year. Turns out an accelerated Masters program is more time-consuming than I thought. And combining full-time school with a full-time job search is a very particular kind of exhausting–a kind that doesn’t leave a lot of time or energy for things you don’t have to do.

It’s been a while since I’ve been through a job search as intense as this one. You are, throughout the process, asked to name and defend everything you believe about education and the work you do. To justify both your past experience and your future goals. It’s emotionally draining. It’s physically draining. It makes you feel vulnerable (especially when there’s no back-up plan) in a way we don’t often ask adult professionals to feel vulnerable.*

I have been incredibly grateful to be surrounded by other people going through this same process–people who bolstered my belief in myself in those moments when I wondered if I would ever find the right fit. They reminded me of why I was doing this, and what I had to offer a school. And the process of talking this all through with friends, and of interviewing over and over again gave me clarity about what I find most important in a job and in a school.

I definitely had interviews where I could tell that–despite it being a good job and a good school–it was not the right school or the right job for me. We tend to think of the interview as a way for a school to learn about you as a candidate, but the interview process also gives you a lot of information about the school, and whether it’s the right fit for you.

It ranges from big picture to little detail. Who do they have you meeting with? Do you have time to interact with students? With teachers from multiple departments? How are you treated throughout the day? Do you have breaks? Does anyone offer you water? What are the questions they ask you about? Do the questions feel like a checklist, or a conversation? Are they focused on philosophy, or nuts and bolts operations? What do the types of questions they ask tell you about the school’s priorities–and the priorities for the positions you’ll be in?

As much as I learned about myself and the schools I spoke with during this process, I am grateful to be at the end of it. I have loved having the luxury of immersing myself in learning and reflecting, but I miss the daily life of schools. I miss seeing students every day. And I am excited to have found a school that is such an excellent fit.


 

*It doesn't escape me that there are potential analogies between this process and our daily work with students; I'm still sorting out those thoughts.
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