Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hello, I'd like to apply for the position of "idiot" - thank you.

I'm just going to come out and say it: my interviewing skills are awesome. If I have a chance at an interview, I will get the job. This is not conceit on my part, just confidence in my abilities, which include talking about myself.

I may have to adjust that opinion, though.

Yesterday I received a call from one of the schools I had given my CV - the India International School of Kuwait - requesting an interview. Of course, I said; awesome, I thought. I head down there today, dressed in my special occasion Ugandan dress and with game face. At reception I am given a simple form to fill out and am instructed to write an essay, 150 words or less, on the role of a teacher in a child's life.


Luckily, I had recently watched a Star Trek episode with relevant quotes from Spock, so I wrote about giving knowledge with discipline, along with the typical mentoring ideas and encouraging a child's mind to grow.

I was grasping.

I was also one of four others being interviewed (that day) and, while not trying to make assumptions based upon racial profiling, but I am pretty sure I was the only non-Indian there. No matter.

After waiting for an hour in the un-air-conditioned school building (I didn't cross my legs because of the sweat that would build up between them; attractive) where I was the sole target of the flies buzzing around, I was brought into a room before a panel of 5 administrators or teachers or something. No worries: I have interviewed with panels before and they only allow me to talk about myself even more. Except today I sat down and my brain went on a smoke break. And all 5 began speaking at once.

"Tell us about yourself."
"Why are you here?"
"You only have a visitor's visa; it's very difficult to get a job with that."

Me - "Oh no! I just have to leave the country and come back to get a work visa.
Or that's what I've been told."

"Where are your strengths?"
"What subjects would you like to teach?"
"You studied what, American history?"

I began my elevator speech, warming up a little to segue into reasons for being here, but they were having none of that. "No, German and African. I would like to teach either English or math. I arrived three weeks ag-"

"You can teach maths?"
"Pick any subject, then go to that blackboard and explain it to us."

Quick thinking, quick thinking. I actually hate teaching English - a positive attribute for someone who might be getting a job doing just that - and had no idea what to do for history, so math it was. "Uhh, ok. I, um, I'll choose basic algebra, because I find it easy to explain."

So I did a simple substitution problem: x +5 = 13. It is easy, so explaining it wouldn't take long anyway, but as I was finished in less than 40 seconds, I figure I was probably talking faster than a category 5 hurricane.

And then more questions:
"What is the purpose of algebra?"
"What are the different types of math?"
"How does algebra help with geometry?"

Me - "What is the purpose of algebra? Ahhh, that takes me back. Well . . . as you go to higher maths, such as geometry and calculus, all the formulas in those are based on algebra equations." (The intelligent response would be: Algebra is the foundation of all higher maths; algebraic equations.)

"Have you ever been to India? What do you know about India?"

For some reason all I could of were the tensions between India and Pakistan, so I repeated to myself, Don't mention Pakistan, don't mention Pakistan. "Uh, no. I, um, know you just had elections . . . India is a very popula . . ."

"What area would you visit?"

"Mmm . . . Mumbai? I have a friend who went and she spoke very highly of it."

"All right, if you are selected for the next round of interviews we will call."

As I stumbled into the hallway my brain decided to return and gave me this bashing:

Why did you spend so much time talking about history and then go explain math? Why not focus more on your math skills? You know more about India than that: what about India's role in East Africa? Punjab massacre, colonization, and on and on. Nice job on the role of algebra. "Hello, I want to teach this subject but I'm not really sure of its purpose." Dummy.

I think that job is a "no". Oh well, I still know how to balance my checkbook.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, I feel the same way about interviews (I rock) but we all have ones where we remember to bring everything but our brains.