Sunday, November 18, 2007


Contemporary interviewing techniques

Big day on Friday: an interview for an ALT position covering various schools in the Playagawa area (props: VMM).

I arrived twenty minutes early, went for some convenience store coffee and made it back with the impression that the uniform Circle K employees are rocking may even be more horrible than that of their Daily Yamazaki counterparts.

First of all, I got chucked into a room with a few question sheets: one grammar/spelling quiz, a sheet of questions on Japanese culture and a self-evaluation psychology quiz (which came with a bibliography of which self-help books you can send off for once you've pigeon-holed yourself.)

This latter was a bit of a joke. By answering a series of closed questions, I was supposed to identify myself as either a Thinker or a Feeler. Sample question:

Do you prefer writers who:

a. Say what they think

b. Use symbolism and metaphor

WTF? I thought. How anyone can be expected to draw up a psychological profile based on this kind of non-data is entirely beyond me. How about changing the question to:

Do you prefer writers who:

a. Are mediocre to the last degree, but at least provide children with some decent, sterile morality, eg. Enid Blyton

b. Are absolute geniuses, but prefer sodomy to more biblically-acceptable forms of sexual intercourse, eg. Christopher Marlowe

It was once I got to the unexpectedly tricky marking scheme that the penny dropped: the whole purpose of the exercise was to test how thorough I was at marking test results. Suitably impressed with my insight, I double checked my marking and was rewarded when I found that I had recorded one of my answers incorrectly.


Non-threatening interviewer (hereafter NTI) finally comes in to see if I've finished my mountain of paperwork.

NTI: How did you go? The psychology test is pretty time-consuming isn't it?

DAN: Yes... was that by any chance to test how thorough I was at marking?

NTI: Oh no, we prefer our teachers to be the "Feeler" type: they're generally better with children.

DAN: Oh.

Silently laments the fact that his test score identifies him as a hard-nosed rationalist roundheaad. I knew that bloody test couldn't be trusted.


Fortunately, my demonstration lesson went off without a hitch and I did ok on the Japanese roleplay. If the worst comes to the worst, I've got another interview Wednesday morning. Fingers crossed!


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