Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Job Interview

My friend, Chuck, at Secondary Roads posted a story about an interview he conducted with a prospective employee. Fun read, and it brought to mind an interview I had several years ago.

We had had a resignation from one of the elementary music teachers. As per standard procedure, the vacancy was first posted within the school system; then the notice of position available was posted at selected colleges and universities.

We had received several applications and resumes.  I had selected four applicants to invite to interviews. In fact, I had already seen two very well qualified applicants when I received a phone call from a young lady who lived in a remote part of the state, 120 or so miles from our school. She had just seen the post at the university of which she was a graduate, and would be delighted to bring her curriculum vitae with her when she came to interview. I told her that the application date had expired, and we were already well into the interview process. She, in her bright and well-educated manner, assured me that she knew for a certainty that she was just the person for the job, and I did not want to miss the opportunity of a lifetime. I relented, granted her an interview date.

Zelda (may I call her "Zelda"? writing "the young lady" repeatedly would get tedious) arrived exactly two minutes before the appointed time. Good. I like punctuality. I find "too early" to be almost as annoying as "late." My admin assistant ushered her into my office and made the introductions. Zelda, beaming smile in place, stepped forward, offering me her hand. Her handshake was firm, holding on neither too long nor too briefly. Good. I like her already.

As Zelda was seated in the guest chair, I observed that she was dressed professionally, a quite pleasant appearance with nothing out of place. Stylish, too. I'd tell you all about the Louis Vuitton accessories, the Manolos and so on, but I wouldn't recognize any of that if I saw it.

Note to self: Really need to cut to the chase; this is getting quite long, and the story hasn't even started.

As I glanced through her resume, I asked the leading questions, background, training, basis for choice of career. You know, carefully avoiding the questions one is "not allowed to ask." Zelda assured me that she loved children, had been very successful academically and was avidly looking forward to moving into our music program and sharing her expertise with our kids.

I asked Zelda what musical instruments she played. "Oh," she said, "I don't play." "But," I said, "you do play piano, don't you?" Well, no, she doesn't. I asked how, then, would you expect to teach music wherein not only accompaniment to singing is expected, but the basis for an understanding of musical concepts is to be taught? Oh, Zelda brightly assured me, I would use records.

Trust me, I wanted to ask, "Can you play a phonograph?" But I didn't. As suavely as I could and with the use of as little time as necessary, I got her out the door and on her way home. I did offer her a few words of kind professional advice, and I hope she took them to heart. I do hope, as well, that she has had a happy and productive life. Just not teaching music to elementary students.


Secondary Roads said...

Destined for a career in PR. That's public relations, not Puerto Rico. The piano is a natural for teaching music with the physical layout. An accordion is also useful with the chord buttons laid out according the the circle of fifths.

Anonymous said...

I worked in corporate personnel for 10 years (of course now it is called "human resources" I think I prefer the old name) and of my many interview stories the one I repeat most often concerns a person who an employment agency sent. The job description clearly stated that typing and dictation were primary skills. So they sent a young lady for the interview - couldn't type, didn't take shorthand - What? I apologized to the young lady, called the agency and raised hell. Their response? "We thought if you just met her, you would love her" My reply "Yeah, she's adorable, I'm gonna adopt her and I STILL NEED A SECRETARY" - Oy!

vanilla said...

Chuck--Yep, definitely headed to PR.

Grace--LOL! I love it.

Silver said...

Too funny, this one. But interesting story and a good read during my coffee break ;)

Enthusiasm without the right elements are not necessarily always a good thing, is it?


vanilla said...

Silver--Enthusiasm and self-confidence are desirable qualities; but a job-related skill set is pretty much mandatory in this instance. ;)

Vee said...

I like this little gal and have never even seen her. She needed a job and was persistent. She also deserves points for self-confidence and grooming. But she probably should have been applying for a sales position. Hey, she sold the interviewer on ignoring his own deadline and granting her an interview :) Had she had been hired for a HS music position, she could easily have kept the attention of the students in the guy's glee club. Young men would probably be too lost in their "thoughts" to recognize that the teacher has no music talent. Then she could have used the big bucks made in teaching to purchase Prada. Or maybe she should stick with sales!

vanilla said...

Vee--LOL. But, yes, definitely sales.