The Job Interview – Do’s and Don’ts

Like many people in education I’ve been through a few interviews — for myself it’s probably somewhere north of 30.  It sounds like a lot and I suppose that it is a lot.  However, sometimes there were multiple interviews for the same job — positions like Science Department Head where I needed to interview in several different schools, or in the case of my current position as Superintendent I had 4 rounds of interviews.

And if I look from the other side of the interview table when I worked in Human Resources, district leadership and school administration I’m sure that I must have interviewed at least 300-400 people.

interview dog

Be Yourself  — It’s the Person You Already Know the Best

So, all being said, I’ve been in a ton of interviews.  I can’t even accurately estimate the number of resumes that I’ve read  — it must be over 2000.

And over my past 30 years in education I’ve noticed a few things that I think can make a big difference when someone is applying for a job.  I thought that you might be interested in hearing some of them.

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Opportunity or Catastrophe

It was my first year as Superintendent here in Saanich and I was extremely excited for my new beginning. Our senior team consisted of myself, two Assistant Superintendents and the Secretary-Treasurer (CFO). It was a really good team and one that I knew I could learn a lot from — it was an exciting time.

Within a few months I learned that both Assistant Superintendents would be moving on — one to a new job and the other to retirement. It was going to be a significant loss of institutional knowledge to the school district, including myself.

Was this an opportunity or a catastrophe?


The Japanese art of kintsugi teaches that broken objects are not something to hide but to celebrate by enhancing them with gold

It actually depends on your mindset. The ‘sky is falling’ crowd would find all sorts of reasons to despair. The optimist would look at it as an opportunity to find new ways of moving forward. I chose the latter.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There was certainly a small sense of ‘oh-oh’ at the beginning, but more because I hadn’t yet worked out a plan. I found the news actually quite motivating. Yes, there would be a significant shift in the team and a big loss of institutional knowledge, but it also gave me the opportunity to consider how else we might be able to support our schools, teachers and students in a better way.

Life is All About the Grey … But Does That Apply to Character?

As I get older I see more grey.  Ya, ya, ya … the hair jokes .. I get it.  Nice!

What I’m talking about are my observations that we don’t live in a binary world of ‘Yes or No’ , ‘Black or White’.  We just don’t typically live in “All or Nothing” scenarios.  Our world is a series of sliding position points along a continuum.   It isn’t static, measured once and labeled.  It is a complex, multi-dimensional, constantly evolving space.

Need proof?  OK.  Some examples that are right off the top of my head include:

  • musical ability.jpg

    Practice MAY make perfect

    Musical ability

  • Physical aptitude in sports
  • Cooking prowess
  • Home repair abilities
  • Computer use
  • Essay writing

The point being, we have some ability or knowledge in lots of areas — some are just more developed than others.  And in many cases increased practice results in improvement.

So our world is a patchwork of grey!  Different shades of ‘greyness’ which indicate our varying abilities.

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