Monday, 25 March 2013

Reviewing the interview: getting things in perspective

I went for an interview last week. It was a job I really wanted... or at least I thought so at the time. Needless to say - the blog title perhaps gives this away - I didn't get it. Initially, I was distraught; so much seemed tied up in the process. Three days after the judgement, I am beginning to feel a sense of relief.

I had built myself up to believe that I would not be working in my current school in September 2013. For a number of reasons, I wanted this to be the case. I think I still want it to some extent but I am tied, by contract, to a resignation date which means I will be there until at least Christmas, if not for another full academic year. Also, the amazing reactions of my colleagues to my tear-stained face on Friday afternoon awoke me to the support and kindness of the people who surround me on a day-to-day basis. I had lost sight of that; in fact, to quote Radiohead's 'Karma Police', 'for a minute there, I lost myself'. It's easily done in the hugger-mugger frenzy of a teaching day/week/term. However, for the opportunity to see a little more clearly, thank you Ms Interviewer.

It seems, now I have a little distance, that nothing I did would have got me the job. By necessity, I must be guarded here... but we all probably know how these things work. It was a hellish day, possibly one of the toughest selection processes I have experienced, but not for the right reasons. Should I ever be in the position of interviewer, let's hope I remember what happened last week: I never want to treat anyone like I was treated. So, my disquiet began on the day and yet the post was, I thought, so perfectly suited to me; burying reservations was easy at the time.

I will try never to leave a candidate alone at lunchtime. I will try never to send them to spend time in a Department where no one is available to talk to them. I will try never to make them complete a task which has not been explained and did not appear in the programme of the day sent in advance. I will try never to yawn in front of a candidate in a formal interview without some kind of apology and/or acknowledgement of my tiredness.

Most importantly, however, I will endeavour to create a situation in which a candidate is enabled to perform to the very best of their ability. Just as in the classroom I am a teacher, in the interview process I will remember that I am an educator first and foremost, a role which means I have a responsibility to create opportunities for good. So, if I ask a question which does not elicit the response I am looking for, I will ask for further clarification or examples; I will not just make notes and then spout them back at the candidate as 'feedback', as the reason I did not appoint them. We focus so much on the importance of questioning, of encouraging deeper learning and response by asking different, layered questions which allow people to delve into their thinking and articulate their ideas with increasing success. If we can do that for the students in our classrooms, why can't we do that for the adults in front of us, whether in meetings, observation feedbacks or interviews?

Yes, I am bruised and yes, I am frustrated. Had I written this on Friday, it would have come scented with the aroma of sour grapes and bile. Today, however, I realise that the route I had thought so right would, in fact, have been horribly wrong. I may not be in the right place right now, but I need to take my time to decide on the next step, rather than rushing towards the light of an oncoming train...