Thanks, but No Thanks

So! Anyone care to guess how MY day went??

I got called into the assistant principal’s office this morning after second period and was told that I wouldn’t be invited to the next round of interviews.

The entire experience was surreal and more than a little insulting, really. “It’s not YOU,” the guy told me, “we had a very deep pool of candidates.” A pool in which, apparently, I drowned.

His communication of my rejection felt a lot more like a bad teenaged break-up than anything I would expect in a professional setting. He kept stressing the fact that it wasn’t ME, that there were a lot of other, equally qualified and impressive individuals who were also passed up, and that he’d be happy to personally recommend me to any other schools I might want to apply to (though he didn’t say this, all I heard from that was “I don’t want you, but someone else might”). Seriously, people; I was in the office, being subjected to this stuff, for about ten minutes longer than I felt was necessary. I get that I’m not in the running for the job, can we stop pretending that you feel badly about it so I can get out of here before I lose it?

Aside from the whole feeling of “it’s not that we don’t like you, it’s that we don’t LIKE you, like you,” I’m feeling upset by a couple of things: 1) He didn’t offer me any information about what successful candidates did, said, or had that I didn’t. 2) He made a big deal about telling me that I had a lot of strong support from the panel (leading me to believe that he made an executive decision, in his ultimate wisdom, that kept me from the second round of interviews) and 3) neither he nor anyone else on the panel ever made any effort to come to see me actually TEACHING. I’m in the school every day – I teach classes by myself every day – I specifically invited both the assistant principal and the department head to come to watch me teach a class and no one availed themselves of the opportunity to see what kind of teacher I already am.

I’m sorry if I’m ranting; I’m still trying to get over the surprisingly painful sting of this day. I do have to say that several people, who were enthusiastic and supportive of my hope to be hired into the department, came to me to offer their continued support and encouragement over the course of the day. I am SO grateful to them, even if I was a little standoffish. It was difficult to accept such kindness and not lose my composure. Maybe by Monday I’ll have enough distance from this to thank them properly.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Thanks, but No Thanks

  1. Said it before, I’ll say it again, That Sucks Eggs. (Appropriate for Easter, huh?)

    Most places don’t give you that specific kind of feedback about why you weren’t bumped up or what other candidates exhibited that was desirable. I’ve always been counseled to specifically ask that question once I’ve gotten enough distance to do it. So, it’d be well within your purvue (purview? perview?) to ask those questions of the AP or members of the panel, in a nice out for coffee sort of way. You know, maybe next week or the week after.

    Why do people DO that thing where they explain the problem forever? They know you’re uncomfortable so that freaks them out so they keep talking when you just wish they’d put an end to it so you could go deal on your own? WHY OH WHY? My old boss used to do that, too, with every instruction and particularly with every reprimand, HOW IS THAT HELPFUL?!?!

  2. It’s not helpful. As a matter of fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s harmful, if not downright mean.

    I actually composed an email – very neutral and professional – that I sent to panel members asking for their advice about what I might do differently in the next interview:

    I’m interested in improving my interview skills and I’d very much appreciate knowing, from your perspective, what successful candidates for the position had, said, or did that I lacked.

    Thank you so much for your time and attention.

    It doesn’t, I think, come off as whiney, and they should be expecting me to ask anyway.

    Grrrrr. I’m trying not to think on it too much – see how well THAT’S going?!

    (p.s. – “perview”)

  3. I’m so sorry.

    One thing to keep in mind was mentioned in a comment on your site somewhere–there is a lot of politics involved in public education. That’s why there are unions. My wife was a teacher years ago. Lots of my friends are teachers. You know what the politics is all about. The AP’s clumsiness seems to be rooted in it. He may also be personally clumsy.

    What’s very clear is that you’ve impressed a lot of people there–including the AP. You have a lot to feel good about, and you will after a while. I agree with Kizz about finding out more when you think the time is right.

    I sense this is an early chapter in a long, interesting volume.

  4. I’ll say it, too: I’m sorry.

    As a teacher who takes all form of educational politic personally, and eschews it as he would a rabid dog (50 points to anyone except my wife who can tell me where that comes from), I can tell you that there is little in the world that gives me heartburn as much as having to sit there and listen to someone who, for often no other reason that he plays by the rules and kisses the asses, sits in the chair he does. I chafe at most forms of authority, just ‘cuz, but to have it thrown at me like poo from a monkey cage by someone for whom that analogy is entirely apropos raises my ire to epic heights. To have someone I respect tell me I wasn’t the best candidate for the job is one thing. To have Bobo the Administrator bull$&!# around the topic is a waste of my life.

    These occasions best make use of the word “Doofus!” as an epithet.

    Ask for feedback. Keep sending out your resume. Try not to take the rejection personally. I’m saying that, but I do–a lot. Hold to what you know: That you are good at what you do, that you have peeps in your corner and that you will, eventually, find a place to teach that respects you and values what you do. I’m working on that last of those.

  5. So, I sent out emails to the panel to ask how I might have improved my interview. I’m genuinely interested in whatever they have to say – I want to figure this process out so that, next time, I GET the job.

    Here’s the reply I got from the AP:

    You had a strong interview. I truly can not think of an area of
    improvement. The interview process is complex and with many variables.
    I was very honest in our post interview discussion and there are no concrete answers, it is a process.

    Okay. You know what? I’m an English teacher – I’m used to giving feedback that, while it may not always make the recipient feel good, is aimed at helping them think in different ways in order to improve their writing or discussion skills. This? I can’t do anything with this. This is a “you got an A+, but you still failed the course.”

    “We like you, we just don’t LIKE you, like you.”

  6. claudia

    I don’t think it sounds like a matter of “what you lacked” or that “they like you,but don’t LIKE you”.I know it can be difficult to set aside how personal this feels, but how about,with the information that you got last night,to be grateful you weren’t thrown under the bus as it were? There were times that I had to hire(or not) people and many times I couldn’t have given you a concrete answer as to just why someone FELT like they would work out better-for me. As you have already experienced,there are many different personalities out there,and you can’t please them all,just do your best.And it’s in those times, that our best just doesn’t cut,it that our greatest lessons are learned. I know,blah,blah,blah!

  7. OK, don’t read this comment if we haven’t made it to the objective part of the process yet.

    It’s not all about you.

    There’s one slot open (right?) and let’s say that 10 people interview. If 8 people get a grade of A+ in their interview 7 of them are still not going to get the position. And the reason that one A+ person gets the job over another isn’t always tangible or recordable or even understandable.

    This is probably the drop dead worst part of any sort of interview process for us Caps. We like systems where you do the work, you learn the lesson, you do as you’re asked and then are rewarded accordingly. Job interviews and auditions and dating suck because they don’t work like that.

    Sorry. Wish I could change it.

  8. I’m closer to the objective part of the process than I was, and I accept your comment, Kizz, in exactly the Capricorn way it was intended. Thank you, my precious, precious friend.

    There are three positions available. I think I’m harping on this because I didn’t just not get the job – I didn’t make it to the second round of interviews. I don’t get a chance to interview with the person who gets to make the actual hiring decisions. I don’t get to see the Wizard; I’ve been turned back at the gate. I guess I’m still a little pissed off at the arbitrariness of the gatekeeper.

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