Welcome to the first ring of Hell

I’m going to send in a couple of job applications for biology teaching positions at community colleges. With some 200 credit hours of college education, I’ve been exposed to enough teachers to know that I teach better than some of them. I’ve had a course in college teaching, over a decade of teaching continuing education (designing my own courses, content, handouts & my own photography), and have been tutoring biology for several years.

But of course I’ve not actually applied for such a job before. So here I am re-doing my teaching philosophy, checking over my resume, chewing over application letter drafts and whatnot.

Like everyone, I’m really nervous about the prospect of interviews. Unlike a lot of people, I have particular difficulties with interviews, such as the prosopagnosia. This means not recognising people from one day to the next, at least not until I’ve been around them a while. I hate it when people drag you around a building and introduce you to a gazillion people. I can barely mentally file away some vague identification characteristics for one interviewer, and even then I never know which details will prove to be the useful ones for recognising them in the future. Yes, I know … I spend an hour talking with someone, and then (aside from the name on the business card) I truly can’t remember who the hell they were the next day. It’s awful.

During the actual interview process, I’m running mental circles around the auditory processing difficulties, fidgety-scatterbrained ADHD issues, unconsciously suppressing little motor tics (I shouldn’t have to theoretically, but it’s ingrained habit under such situations), concentrating on trying to make “enough” eye contact (whatever the hell that is), concentrating on speaking clearly and avoiding stuttering, ignoring the tinnitus and joint aches (and hoping against migraine). And being nervous is bad enough without those damn menopausal hot flashes!

Of course all that detracts from the amount of energy available for composing brilliant answers. So my usual interview plan is to anticipate interview questions and then prepare and practice answers. I spend days ruminating over and practicing my short “scripts” while in the car. Fortunately, I can never remember my answers verbatim, so they don’t come off as sounding “canned”.

Unfortunately, for all I have a large vocabulary and am a well-practiced writer, I’m less able to produce clear, concise answers to unexpected questions. It’s not that I can’t think of what to say, but rather that all the details of things come to mind at once, and I can’t prioritise and sequence them easily, nor compose paragraphs and then remember them all the way through.

So … anyone out there have specific tips for teaching interviews? (I’m good on basic interview stuff like professional wardrobe.) But this is a new kind of interview situation, and I don’t know what sorts of questions are likely to be asked, nor what sorts of unspoken conventions are typical for such a process, or what committees look for.

7 Comments

  1. Moe said,

    3 August 2013 at 3:09

    the main problem I face always is that I’m so tired of explaining my CAPD for everyone I have to deal with. being with CAPD in really like a living hell

  2. Bug Girl said,

    2 December 2007 at 0:04

    The main thing that people fail at in these interviews is talking endlessly about their research. If you focus on students and your love of teaching, you should be fine!

    Job hunting is like dating–you don’t want to seem desperate. Interested, sure.

  3. 1 December 2007 at 16:30

    Here;s the thing m’ goodhearted folks, your ideas are brilliant! That’s what imagination does! It takes you places. But…..imagination is a heck of a lot different from reality. This idea was imagination. Let me just say it..it won’t work! Chow.

  4. 30 November 2007 at 17:14

    Chaoticidealism has a wonderful hint, and I’ve used it often myself. Because I am a woman of a certain age and generously propotrioned, I’ve often walked into an interview and noticed “the look” –the one that says, “you sounded younger and thinner on the phone.” I get this more often from women younger than I am than men of any age, but I digress. Scan the desk top, clothing, jewelry of the interviewer for a hint of character and taste. Prepare some open-ended questions to ask at the right time, linking something you did to an interest, place or school, so the interviewer gets into a conversation with you, not just an interview.

    The biggest tip I ever realized was understanding that being needy and wanting a job desperately somehow transmits itself to the interviewer. On the way to the job interview, I tell myself that it is as important that the job meet my standards as that I meet theirs. I always have some questions ready that indicate that I’m also interviewing them. If the job doesn’t match your values, you will never thrive. There is something in that confidence that wins jobs.
    –Q
    Certified Creativity Coach

  5. julie3344 said,

    30 November 2007 at 16:01

    Practice certainly makes perfect. I’m job hunting as well and my college offers mock interviews, but you can also ask a friend or family member to ask “interview” you and help you feel more comfortable in this sort of setting. If you could become as comfortable with your interviewer as you would with a good friend (and still remain polite and professional), your performance would well exceed your expectations. Good luck.

  6. 30 November 2007 at 7:53

    The one thing that has helped me in interviews was advice I read in a book on job interviews, and which appreantly works: Trying to find something that’s the same between me and the interviewer, and pointing it out. I think it makes the interviewer feel more positively toward you. At one interview, a woman had a picture of her family and their two dogs; and I recognized their breed and asked about them–it turned out we were both animal lovers. At another interview, it turned out we had both gone to the same local college. I got both jobs (one, a temp assignment, and one my current, new job). Maybe it’s that most people like people who are like themselves because they are least threatening, most familiar. It could help overcome that Aspie “foreignness” that I seem to radiate; maybe they saw me as “a quirky girl who loves dogs, just like me” rather than “somebody I don’t understand”.


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