Interviews Are Like a Game Show.

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It’s getting closer to that special time of the school year.

No, not summer (because that is beyond special… and there are days when I feel it will never get here).

It’s almost Interview Season.

Teachers retire, quit, or move on to bigger and better things.It's Gene Rayburn from the Match Game.

This also means I will have a dull headache for the next 6 months.  It’s the exact same feeling I get when I eat too much sugar.

Openings to fill.  Resumes to sort through by the hundreds (please stop telling me there’s a teacher shortage).  And reference checks to be made.

Work, work, work.

Which isn’t a bad thing.  Actually it’s job security.

Even so, Interview Season = Dull Headache just Cookies in the Lounge = Dull Headache.

I enjoy meeting new teachers during interviews.

They are so young.  So enthusiastic.  So upbeat and positive.  So desperate for a job that pays them actual money.

There’s just so many of them.

After about interview #47, I start to show my age.

I get confused and disoriented.

There comes a time when I can’t remember if I’ve asked a question or even for the candidate’s name.

Who am I kidding?  At a certain point I can’t remember my own name (sadly this happens way before interview #47).

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind interviewing (see:  job security).  I just wish I had a special huge red button to push the second I know it’s not going to work out.

Sort of a “Thanks for playing our game… now GET OUT!” button.

This isn’t true.  Or nice.

What I need is a giant lever to pull.

If this sounds unduly harsh, it’s because it is.

In my defense, interviews are like first dates.  You know within 2 minutes if it’s a match.

I don’t want to embarrass the person interviewing, I just want to pull the lever and have them fall into a giant abyss (just to prove I’m not mean, I want the abyss to be deep enough that I don’t hear their crying and screaming as they fight for a final breathe… because there’s no need to make things worse).

Think about it.  Within 120 seconds you know if you want to hire this person, but yet you feel like it’s only fair to spend at least 30 minutes interviewing them.

Actually, now that I think about it this may be worse than pulling the lever.

Maybe, interviews should be shorter.

Maybe, it’s a disservice to drag them out when they aren’t going well.

Maybe, I would be doing everyone a favor by pulling the lever.

Or maybe not.

Interviews remind me of a game show.

Think about it.  A school gets 100 resumes.

We pick out 5 to play the game.

They are then brought up on stage (the interview) and asked a series of secret questions.

No one knows the correct answer, so the candidates do their best to guess what the school/interviewer wants to hear.

At the end of the game a winner is chosen and the losers (not really “losers”) have no idea why they didn’t win.

It’s a game show without the lovely parting gifts.

People are so excited to get chosen to play the game and so disappointed when they don’t win.

No job.  No car.  No boat.  No vacation package.

It’s a game show without any of the good parts.

And of course, I don’t have a lovely sidekick, a bad suit, big hair, or a long microphone.

Alex, I would like “Student Discipline” for $100.

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18 Responses to “Interviews Are Like a Game Show.”


  1. Karen Marcus
    on Feb 15th, 2010
    @ 10:23 am

    AMEN, Brother!

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @Karen Marcus, This should be the standard comment for all of my blogs. :)


  2. Tina
    on Feb 15th, 2010
    @ 10:38 am

    Since you brought up the subject…I blew an interview this past school year. I interviewed for an Vice-Principal position. Any suggestions for future interviews.


  3. Barbara McCormick
    on Feb 15th, 2010
    @ 11:19 am

    You have stated an interesting comparison to the interview process that I witness upon my visits to local universities. I have overheard the HR leaders firing questions, marking check lists and moving down the assembly line. I take a different approach to the interview process creating questions that are directly linked to the school I serve. I don’t find packaged questions to be the answer in finding the best candidate. Because I am not necessarily interviewing to hire at the moment I rather enjoy the process. I also find satisfaction in helping our young graduates improve their interview skills. I guess it is all in what lenses you look through.


  4. Kristen Ward
    on Feb 15th, 2010
    @ 12:06 pm

    I have to agree, It can be very nerve wracking for principals to be doing the interview process, as well as, for future prospective teachers being interviewed. Your blog and this post has opened my eyes into the reality of being a principal and the process it takes to hire. Although, after reading this especially where you stated ” . Within 120 seconds you know if you want to hire this person, but yet you feel like it’s only fair to spend at least 30 minutes interviewing them. Maybe, interviews should be shorter. Maybe, it’s a disservice to drag them out when they aren’t going well.” I feel that as a teacher looking for a position within a school that if the interviewer knows the interviewee is a bad match they shouldn’t spend the time. During interviews, when I have spent 30-45 minutes enduring the process only to be hopeful that I am the “winner” and with no such luck I didnt recieve a phone call or even a letter letting me know that another “winner” has been chosen. I feel that it would be a disservice as you say to the interviewee to drag it out if and when you reach the point you know it isnt going to be a match. I have been on interviews that have lasted 60 minutes and now only to wonder if they knew i wasnt a match for them within the first two minutes and if thats the case not only did they waste my time but valuable time they could be using to work on district projects and building a better school community.
    I definitely appreciate this blog, as well as, the insight you have shared with me. I just wish there was some easier way for the interview process to work in which no one wastes their time and more teachers like myself can find positions within districts. As for the teacher shortages, we hear this all the time except many schools (like my former school) are laying off teachers due to budget cuts and really I think there are more teachers looking for jobs than districts have enough positions to fill. Plainfield, IL is laying off at least 100+ teachers at the end of this school year, in addition to, the already layed off teachers at the end of the last school year. If you take all those teachers, plus the teachers already layed off, not to mention the students who will be graduating in May with teaching certificates and you throw them all into one big pile that is definitely many resumes to sort through and they just keep building up year after year!


  5. Tammy
    on Feb 15th, 2010
    @ 1:13 pm

    As a pre-teacher (or teacher in training) this terrifies me. I only hope that I can make a good impression within those first few seconds! As for the teacher shortage, I wouldn’t know, I just keep hearing about the school cuts. Only a few short months till student teaching!


  6. mcorbett76
    on Feb 15th, 2010
    @ 2:31 pm

    I was told when I interviewed for my current position that the principal had over 1,000 resumes for the 3 jobs he was hiring for this year. I wasn’t intimidated by that because while there is no shortage of teachers, there is a shortage of good teachers. Some people don’t understand the difference. I know I am a good, solid teacher with a few years of experience, who will become in time a great teacher, because I do not settle for being good. I will learn from everyone I meet, including my students, about ways to become a better teacher. I think being open to becoming better is more important than anything else in a teacher. I currently work with a few teachers who feel they know it all because they went through an education degree. That makes me laugh! My degree was useful, but not nearly as useful as my first year of teaching was! Every year I teach, I work to improve every aspect of what I do.

    My suggestion on improving the interview process, based on an interview I attended with my husband (he was being interviewed for a music teacher’s position at a K-12 school of around 600 students). The first interview consisted of five interviewees and a panel of interviewers from all over the school, including a non-teaching staff member (I believe it was the cafeteria manager). This interview lasted about 30 minutes. By the end of it, the panel was in agreement about who should be invited back for a one-on-one interview. Rather than taking 30 minutes for each interviewee, this school knocked out 150 minutes of individual interviews in 30 minutes. Efficiency! My husband was then phoned and asked to return later the same day for a one-on-one interview with the principal. I’m not sure how many others were brought back for this level of the process, however, from the time of his first panel interview to him being offered the job, about 8 hours passed. This worked well for us because we were living about 5 hours away at the time. The day after the interview, we hunted down an apartment and signed a contract. Since then, I’ve never had as efficient an interview experience.

    Btw, I never feel that an interview opportunity is wasted. I learn more about myself and about the process by going through it, even if I’m not interested or they are not interested in hiring me. If I can get the interview turned around and be in charge of asking the questions, rather than the other way around, I feel I’ve done my job. :D

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @mcorbett76, You are so right… every opportunity to interview is a chance to improve your skills.

    Something about “Practice Makes Perfect.”


  7. Daisy
    on Feb 15th, 2010
    @ 8:04 pm

    We’re looking at layoffs. Any new hires will be in specialty areas. I certainly hope they can get hired sooner rather than later; getting that job at the last minute in August is a challenge.


  8. Laura
    on Feb 16th, 2010
    @ 12:00 pm

    On the up side, at least the person who is wrong for the job gets to work on their interviewing skills… I have even had one professor who recommended that we start interviewing with schools a month or two before we get our degree, and that we should try to do at least one or two interviews at schools that we really aren’t that interested in before moving on to interviews that matter more to us. This way we can be comfortable with the process and have a chance to totally blow it before we get to one that we really want to ace.

    Just in case, I’ve picked up one of those “Easy” buttons from Staples; when I interview I’ll lay in on the desk in front of the administrator and inform them that at any time they may slam the button if they feel I’m not what they are looking for and I will promise leave with no hard feelings, but appreciation for saving us both time and aggrevation.


  9. Angie
    on Feb 16th, 2010
    @ 12:08 pm

    Pixar has no formal interviewing process or questions. Each potential employee spends time with 20-30 different people in the organization to see if all agree that he/she is the “right fit.” I kinda like that.

    BTW – the best thing about this post is the Match Game picture. I will have the theme song in my head all day, not to mention Charles Nelson Reilly. Thanks.


  10. Charlie A. Roy
    on Feb 16th, 2010
    @ 2:48 pm

    The joys of interviews. I actually enjoy the process. It usually takes me about ten to fifteen minutes to realize whether they are a fit or not. It saddens me in one of the above comments that there is no need for follow up either way. We always make it a point to send a polite ding letter to the candidates we don’t hire so they know the position is closed. One way or the other some type of follow up should be required.


  11. Kim A
    on Feb 16th, 2010
    @ 2:57 pm

    I’m a student of Professor Post. I would like to know where the teacher shortage is. Many times it’s ‘who you know’ just to get an interview.


  12. sharon
    on Feb 17th, 2010
    @ 2:37 pm

    I have to admit, the shortage of good teachers seems hard to prove. The best proof I know of, is go out and try to find a teaching job. You can be the best choice but age and experience can prove to be a heavy cross. Yes, I agree that after an interview, it would show class to let all involved know if a choice was made for the position. Its not what you know but who you know that may get you the job.


  13. Diane
    on Feb 17th, 2010
    @ 8:09 pm

    Love the “Easy” button idea.

    I just got my degree-great timing. I’m thinking of getting a job at a tutoring place just to keep busy. We’ll see.


  14. ZeroTX
    on Feb 17th, 2010
    @ 8:40 pm

    As a mid-level administrator (read: AP), I found the many long interviews that didn’t go anywhere to be annoying. Why doesn’t public education do what EVERY private entity does? All initial interviews are by PHONE. Why waste someone’s time, gas, dry cleaning and time off their current job if a 10 minute phone call could rule out the need to do so?….

    That’s something you should ponder… Rather than call in the top 5, how about phone interview the top 15 and then call in the top 3? Win-win.


  15. Frau M.
    on Feb 20th, 2010
    @ 2:16 pm

    What is it that makes a person stay and complete the interview when you and the interviewer both know you’re not the potential candidate for the job? I know anyone who has interviewed more than once could feel the exact point when the interview went south. The interviewer wants to push the trapdoor button and you want to say, “Clearly I’m not the one, but thanks for your time.”


  16. Karen
    on Mar 1st, 2010
    @ 9:25 pm

    So since I am playing this game what advice or suggestins do you have for the game contestant that will allow them to move on to the next level of the game or actually win the prize. What are some things that peak your interest in a person both on paper and in person. I greatly appreciate your thoughts. Thanks

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