Interviewing for an international teaching position can have both strange and comical moments. Although recruiting conferences can be serious business, there’s always room for the unexpected. In My Strangest Interview, teachers relate “memorable” interview experiences. Have something to add?
Interviewing with a school in Japan several years ago… I was single… after 45 minutes of intense questions the guy gets up to get a drink while I’m in the middle of an answer. I finish and as he walks back he says, “Do you like Asian women?” I have no idea what to say so I umm and ahh for a second and then say “I find them attractive.” He practically yells out, “Then you’re gonna love Japan!” He then tells me that although married he wished he had the opportunity to dabble.
I was interviewing for a job in the Philippines. The interviewer came late, smelling of cigarettes. We sit down for a talk. He asked a question and then leans in real dramatically for the answer. He did this over and over. Freaked me out. I also was grabbed by some men from Saudi Arabia at a job fair. They told me they had the perfect job for me: 5th grade Math and Science. But I teach History and English, I said. “You will be perfect”. Will I like the job? “No no, you will hate it, the kids are horrible”. Will I be able to meet many Saudis and have a social life? “No no, the Saudis hate foreigners. But there are many nurses in Riyadh. They are from the Philippines. We can hook you up.” Strangely enough, I didn’t take the job.
I was interviewing with a school in Bahrain. The guy told me to close my eyes, and I did. Then he asked me to keep my eyes closed and describe the pattern on his tie. I couldn’t. I hadn’t been looking at his tie. I opened my eyes and he insisted that I should have been able to describe his tie because I had looked down at it multiple times. Um, no I hadn’t. I had looked down a few times, as I was taking notes on things he said and checking my list of things I meant to ask him. If he didn’t notice my pen and notepad, why should I have noticed his tie?
After talking with a school for almost 2 months with no communication from the school despite my emailing them numerous times, I decided to email them and tell them that I was no longer interested in the job: Thank you, but I need to move on. I then get an email back asking me why I have changed my mind and why am I going back on my word? When I responded that I hadn’t changed my mind–I was never offered a job–he then told me, “Well, what if I offer you the job now?” I passed on the job offer, but it was pretty weird!
I think the strangest yet was when the head of school entered the ‘interview area’ of the hotel suite just after getting off of the toilette – the smell was rather ‘potent’ (I’m being tactful). In addition, he was hung over (apparently from his breath drifting across the interview table), so although I took the job (it was thankfully his last year at that particular school), I barely made it through the fumes of this first encounter.