I went on a job interview last month and, while I was super excited about the prospect, as soon as the interview began, I realized it wasn’t the job for me.
At first, I was super disappointed. I thought that, even in the rare case that I was offered the job, I’d have to accept it. Why should I turn down a perfectly good leadership position? Then I remembered: because it’s not the job for me.
It’s hard being patient when you want something so badly. But I’m here to tell you that you need to wait. Over my teaching career, I’ve taught in two different schools, with four different principals, two different grade levels, and four different teams. And while I absolutely love teaching and working with students, that’s not always enough. Not every school, not every grade level, and not every team is the right fit for you.
Even if you’re not in education and you came across this post by accident, you should remember that not every business is run the same way. Not every boss has a personality or philosophy that matches yours. Not every job is for you.
Please realize that this doesn’t mean that those people are bad or that they’re doing anything wrong. They’re not. People, by nature, are different. It’s a fact of life and, for the most part, diversity is a beautiful, beautiful thing.
But when beliefs and philosophies clash in the workplace, when two parties are working towards two different causes… it can be disastrous. Not only for the effectiveness of the organization but for the well-being of the people involved. In this case, it’s okay to “not for me” or “not right now.” You have to know yourself well in order to find the perfect job for you.
In this post, I’d like to share four ways to know from an interview if the job is not for you. Hopefully, this will help you from accepting a job where you’ll be miserable and find something that fits with your purpose or personal mission in life.
1. Be very clear about what you believe about education (or whatever field you’re interviewing in) and share that during the interview.
In education, what you believe about how students learn is vitally important to how you’re going to do your job. Your philosophy of education isn’t just something you’re supposed to think about during your undergraduate or graduate education program, but rather should permeate every part of how you interact with students and colleagues.
Even if your interviewer doesn’t come right out and ask, be prepared to find ways to share your philosophy. It’s probable that they’ll pose a question like, “Tell us a little about yourself and why you think you’re a good fit for this position.” The people who are interviewing you need to know what you believe, not just about education, but about the world in general so they don’t hire you for a job that’s in contrast to your belief system. This will save you a multitude of headaches down the road.
2. Pay attention to the body language of those who interview you.
You can gauge the personality of the people who are interviewing you by paying attention to their body language before, during, and after the interview. You can learn a lot about people by how they act. For example, if you walk into an interview and smile at someone with zero smiles back, that should be a red flag. Interviewers who are distracted by a phone or computer, fail to make eye contact during the interview, make you wait long periods of time without reason, or cut you off mid-sentence are also reasons to reconsider accepting a job. Also, pay attention to whether or not they seem disorganized or flustered. You can tell the first time you meet someone if they are kind, respectful, and responsible people. Think about who you’d like to work for and consider that before you accept any job.
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3. Ask questions before, during, and after the interview.
Interviews can be very intimidating, especially if you’re a new teacher. When you arrive for an interview, be polite and engage the office staff in conversation. Ask them if they enjoy the school and the area. If you’re not Interviewing at a school, ask them if they enjoy the company. Be careful not ask about the interviewers or the position you’re interviewing for specifically. You don’t want to seem like you’re fishing for information, only engaging in small talk.
Just like paying attention to body language, you can get more information about the vision and mission of the school or company and the position you would be filling by asking questions. You will usually be given the opportunity to ask any additional questions you may have at the end of the interview. Take that opportunity to find out more about the school or company. Some questions you might ask are:
- What role do you see this position playing within the school?
- What are some expectations for this position?
- What do you believe are the next steps for the school or company in fulfilling your vision and mission?
- What qualities are you looking for?