There is nothing more stressful than going for a job interview. Recently I had such an experience as I interviewed with a local school district. It was one of those screening interviews, the kind that evaluates whether or not you are prepared enough to teach in their district. Because I am a Special Ed major looking for an internship for this coming school year, I was more than thrilled to have this opportunity, until the reality of the situation dawned on me. This was my first “real job” interview. What should I do to prepare? What questions will be asked? …and of course, What should I wear?
I prepared by reviewing possible interview questions with my husband. He asked me things like, “What sets you apart from other teacher candidates?” and “Why do you want to be a teacher?” I even went to the district website and snooped around for possible interview questions. I found some; I reviewed those as well. The day of the interview arrived. I put on a professional “teacher” outfit and headed out. I arrived in plenty of time. I looked the part. I had prepared. Everything was going great.
After introductions and some personal info questions, the interviewer started into the “real” questions. She explained that because I was interested in an internship, the interview would proceed as if I was a teacher, not a student, applying for a position in their district. I felt good about that, I had prepared after all, and she posed the first question. All I heard was confusing list of legal jargon as she asked me something about parental rights and due process. Stunned, I sat there trying to make sense of what she was asking. Suddenly, I was keenly aware that this was NOT the interview I had prepared for, and that made me laugh. I laughed right out loud. The interviewer looked puzzled, so I explained, “I prepared for this interview. I even went to your website and found sample interview questions but…” Before I could finish, she laughed and chimed right in, “But this wasn’t one of them.”
“Yes, exactly,” I said smiling.
So, I took a second to switch mental gears and then proceeded to answer the question. One after another I answered questions about the nuts and bolts of Special Ed – legal issues, teaching strategies, assessments, collaboration, behavior management, data collection, IEPs. We talked for over an hour. Although I felt like I was in an oral exit exam for my major, with each additional question the answers kept coming to my mind. It was so exhilarating! All that information really was in my mind AND I could retrieve it AND have an intelligent conversation about it. What a validating feeling!
Swelling with pride and joy in my accomplishment, I returned home reflecting on the questions I had been asked. As I reviewed them, it occurred to me that I had been asked several questions from each of the classes in my major, including classes I haven’t taken yet. At that moment I felt so humbled and so grateful for this preparation…and so gratified in my studies. I was prepared, truly prepared, and that was the best feeling in the world.
How has your education at BYU prepared you for your future?
Stephanie Johnson is majoring in Special Education at the McKay School. She has two sons and a daughter.