INTERVIEW TALE #1
by Life in Limbo
No, I am not kidding.
My gift for hyperbole aside, I recently had a job interview that took up six hours of my day.
This particular interview resulted from my experience at a recent Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) "Job Fair," and, unlike past interviews I have received, it was at a school that is a reasonable commute from my home and for a position that I, theoretically, would enjoy and find a good fit.
I arrived about fifteen minutes before the scheduled time and was told to wait for the principal. After about half an hour, I was ushered into the office with the principal, the parent coordinator, and a faculty member. We proceeded to have a pleasant conversation and I felt that there was a chance that this could be a workable position – the principal seemed to be experienced and pragmatic (not one of those Leadership Academy sociopaths), and the faculty member and parent coordinator were pleasant, candid, and definitely people I could get along with.
I was feeling like maybe there was something here and agreed when I was asked to wait a bit to interview with someone from the Children First Network (CFN)--so much for principal’s autonomy. I was placed in an empty office and made myself comfortable with my book.
I waited in this office for about an hour, after which the principal came in and told me that the CFN person was on his way. Another ten minutes passed and I was told to come back in two hours as the CFN person was going to lunch. So much for the grocery shopping and pool outing I had planned for the afternoon.
Upon my return, I waited another 20 minutes for the arrival of the CFN Human Resources Director of Talent (one of the new administrative positions recently created).
This guy was an ignorant jerk. One of his first questions was, "Why have you been at a new school every year?" When I mentioned that this is what happens when you are an ATR teacher, he said, "Oh is that how it works? You go somewhere new every year? Why is that?" I had to explain to this guy what an ATR teacher is, and how the ATR pool works, even though I came to the interview by way of a "job fair" that was STRICTLY FOR ATRs. You’d think he’d have some kind of idea of how candidates were being selected for interviews.
His next line of questioning focused on why the other two schools I was sent to hadn't picked me up. They didn’t have any vacancies in my area, I answered. His response? "Well, I have to wonder why they didn’t at least ask for you back." I explained that to ask me back would require placing me in a non-existent position, and he responded, "Well, I know that if you are as good as you look on paper that a principal can find a way to keep you."
"So why were you U-rated and made an ATR?" he asked. I explained that I was never U-rated at any time and that I became an ATR teacher when the Reading department (four of us) at my school was eliminated, due to the fact that the Reading students all PASSED the ELA. He still persisted with, "I have to wonder why you haven’t been called back to your old school or either of the other two." I told him that he was asking me questions I could not answer, but that he was free to call the schools and ask the principals directly.
He then commended me on my "honesty" and "candor" in being "forthcoming" about my ATR status and not lying or trying to hide my "situation." (As if somehow being an ATR means you did something WRONG.) Finally, he wrapped up with the following: "I have to say I have some concerns. After two years as an ATR, it bothers me that no one has picked you up and makes me think that there MUST be something wrong with you that you haven’t mentioned. It just seems like you are past your ‘sell-by’ date." I was escorted out shortly after by the principal, who had been noticeably quiet throughout my interrogation by the "Talent Coach," with the promise that I "will be hearing from" her. I am not holding my breath.
Let’s keep in mind that this “Talent Coach” makes at least $81,000/yr and is NOT required to have any teaching experience--the job description specifies HR experience, not teaching or even administration. The fact that he had no clue what ATR status means, how ATRs are assigned, or how one becomes an ATR is pathetic. On top of that, with all the talk about principal autonomy in hiring, I find it curious that his presence completely SHUT DOWN the principal and, apparently, overturned her decision regarding the position I was interviewing for.
This charade lasted about six hours–most of it spent waiting–showing that the DOE has no regard for our time, regardless of the fact that I was there on my own time and of my own volition. These people had no qualms about hijacking my entire day, and did not even bother to ask if I had any other responsibilities or commitments later in the day. Apparently, if you are an ATR, you are to make yourself available to administration as they see fit, on their terms, and be prepared to stay until they no longer find you entertaining.