Wednesday, July 23, 2014

interview aftermath

Dongguk University Selfie:  waiting for my interviewIn a word: brief.

The interview was brief. It took place at Dongguk University's Main Building, on the fifth floor. As per usual, there was no elevator up to that floor, so I was a sweaty mess from walking up. Luckily, I had arrived two hours early (took a taxi from the train station), so there was plenty of time for me to cool down and change out of my sweatpants and into my slacks, long-sleeve shirt, and tie.

The concierge on the ground floor was the one who took me up to the fifth floor. He used his key to put me in a very plush-looking waiting room, and he was kind enough to turn on the air conditioning for me. For a solid hour, I was alone on the fifth floor, just reading my material and waiting.

Two female assistants and a male assistant finally showed up and began to set up both the interview room and the gigantic conference room where we foreign teachers were actually supposed to wait (the concierge had put me in the wrong waiting room, it turned out). I moved over to the conference room, which was lavishly furnished: there was art on the walls; an enormous conference table in the shape of a rectangular "C" dominated the room; the chairs at the table were huge and surprisingly heavy. I sat and waited, and close to 2:30PM, other candidates started to trickle in.

I met several interesting people while we waited to be called in turn: the young, buttoned-down New Zealander from Dunedin; the friendly Komerican lady from Chicago; her cheerful, ponytailed coworker from Toronto; the quiet lady from Florida; and the distinguished older gentleman from California. They all struck me as good, smart, competent people; I'd guess we all have a roughly equal chance of getting a job. There were eight candidates in all, and Dongguk was advertising for two positions, so I'd say there's a 25% chance that I might be working at Dongguk come September. Not great odds, but not terrible, either.

The gent from Toronto went first. His interview took a full fifteen minutes. He came out and told us that the interview committee was nice and not the type to grill you. We had been asked, as part of the initial application, to write up a one-page lesson plan for academic writing; Mr. Toronto said he was never asked about his lesson plan. The lady from Chicago went next and also took about fifteen minutes; she and Mr. Toronto knew each other from a previous job, so when she came back out, she and Mr. Toronto exchanged phone numbers while I got called in for my interview.

As I said: brief. I don't think I was in there for even ten minutes. Is this a good thing? A bad thing? I'm not sure. There were several moments of raucous laughter, which I took as a good sign, even though the interviewers seemed to be laughing at their own jokes. The group was entirely men—perhaps three expats and four Koreans.  The whole thing is something of a blur, but what follows is what I remember of the group's questions and my answers.

I was asked to confirm that I had been teaching at DCU; I said yes. I was asked about what kinds of courses I had been teaching; I talked about speaking, conversation, and pronunciation—the latter course having been designed by me. I was asked whether I had much experience teaching writing, so I talked about the work I had done two jobs ago, at YB, where I had taught so much writing.

Unlike Mr. Toronto, I was asked about my lesson plan—specifically, what I would teach after having taught brainstorming and outlining. I was asked what my students would say about me; I said they would say I'm strict but passionate and also humorous. I was asked about effective teaching strategies, so I talked about my round-robin method with my intermediates. This led to a question about what flaws I perceived in that method, so I spent some time going over a flaw or two. I was asked about effective ways to motivate students; I talked about the importance of humor, of being organized, and of teaching energetically, even as I acknowledged that not all my students were inspired to the same degree. I was asked whether I'd had any classroom-management issues; I replied that no discipline problem in Korea has ever compared to my two years' experience as a high-school teacher in America.

Finally, one Korean gentleman asked me whether I'd be willing to be videoed for video lectures that get marketed to the online community. I said yes without any hesitation; I'm theatrical by nature, so acting foolish in front of a camera is not a problem for me.  After that, I was allowed to ask whatever questions I had, so I made some practical queries about work hours, vacation, and the possibility of teaching extra courses.

Within ten minutes, we were done. I was shocked at how quickly the time went by, and the fact that my interview ended so quickly makes me very paranoid about my chances. Well... There's nothing I can do at this point. I've auditioned, and I'll know tomorrow whether I've got the gig. Here's hoping I get a thumbs-up.

On my way out, one of the assistants, slim and cute, thanked me for coming. In Korean, I confessed to her my fears that a short interview didn't bode well. By way of reassurance, she countered that that wasn't necessarily true, and she added that she hoped to see me again soon. "Me, too," I replied. At least one woman at Dongguk University is rooting for me.

So. We'll see. If I don't get a call or email tomorrow, I can safely assume I didn't make the cut. If I were a betting man, I'd bet against me at this point. But hope springs eternal. Tomorrow, all will be revealed, Buddha willing.



John said...

Best of luck Kevin. Gee us kiwis get around don't we. I'm essentially a Dunedin boy too. (Actually about an hour up the road)

Kevin Kim said...

Thanks, John. Long live Dunedin!