Saturday, March 31, 2007

Life's follies

Comfort Food
Originally uploaded by Seitti.
My interview this morning wasn’t really an interview. It was the meeting of two school people. We chatted for over an hour, discussing a range of school related topics. As usual, I bombed on a couple of direct questions. I think I’m not prepared for the standard questions about teaching and literature. What’s your style? Er, style? Eclectic? Er, ah, loose with a strict streak. What literature would you teach? Ah, books without pictures?

I’m reminded of the interview last year when I was asked what I’m reading these days. At the time, I was in the throes of my coursework for the doctorate I’m still working on. I wasn’t reading much literature, as in fiction and poetry, but was reading a great deal about organizational development and conflict resolution. I think I mumbled something about squeezing in lit rags such as Granta and the Virginia Quarterly. Not the swiftest answer, particularly for an English candidate.

I actually have a list of not-so-swift things I’ve done during interviews. They’re actually sort of humorous.
  • There was the time I dropped my keys down a storm drain and had to get help fishing them out
  • Or the time I stepped in dog poop before walking in to an interview; I was unable to get it all off, and 15 minutes into the conversation, I could smell it and my nose began to tickle. And, I’m sure the two people conducting the interview could smell it, too.
  • And there was the time I locked my keys in the rental mini-van; we had to get a small student so slip in the window in the back.
  • Or the time I went on the interview in the early spring in Connecticut, not realizing a late snow storm was headed to the area. I had no winter coat or proper shoes with me, and spent the time on campus trying to keep warm between traipsing between buildings.
  • Then there was the time I told the head of a school she’d made a mistake in selling some two hundred acres of school property to a developer. I think I said something about not thinking of the future.
  • Another time I was asked, out of the blue, about my “relationship with Jesus Christ, our savior.” I didn’t see that one coming, particularly since at most schools I’m familiar with, religious tolerance, not belief, is a prerequisite.
  • How about the time the head of the school asked me what I’d do in a particular instance of student misbehavior – I believe the scenario had to do with drug use – and, even though I knew the school policy, told him what I would do. My answer didn’t match the school’s policy.
  • On another occasion , I had an interview at a downtown office; the interview went longer than I expected, and when I returned, I discovered that the meter had run out… and I’d received a parking ticket.
  • I try and write thank you notes; one time I used the word phat. What the h*ll was I thinking?
Life’s follies, I guess you could say… the good news, at least from my perspective, is that not every one of these not-so-swift things, mini-catastrophes perhaps, resulted in not being offered a job. I guess it shows that some people in hiring positions realized they’re hiring people with human foibles. And, boy, do I have mine.


Angel, librarian and educator said...

Interesting and amusing set of "foibles." On the relationship with Jesus, unless it was some parochial school, they should not have asked that at all. I am not a lawyer, but as far as I know it is not legal to ask that type of question (falls under asking things like are you married and are you expecting to have children questions). However, based on experience, I know private denominational schools do ask it, even advertising it in their job ads.

As for me, I once completed an interview fine, and I got the job. However, when I later came in to fill the paperwork for the job (the HR stuff), I had a nice burger lunch, and after I finished it, squeezed too hard on the wrapper, sending ketchup all over my shirt. Luckily, weather was so I could wear a jacket, which I kept zipped throughout the process. Good thing I was already hired.

I got here via the Carnival of Education.

Best, and keep on blogging.

Peter A. Stinson said...

At my interview last week, I dribbled soup on my tie... thankfully, I had another tie in the car...

As to the relationship with Jesus question, the school in question was a Baptist school that supposedly prided itself on having a religiously diverse faculty... and then the head asked me that question... and I'd not mentioned a single word about religion previously...

In the end, I wouldn't have been happy there, anyway. I'm a little more truly inclusive.

Anonymous said...


My relationship with Jesus?


*wicked grin*