I’m not great at interviewing when I’m at my best, and Saturday, I was at my worst. First of all, I’d worked myself into a tizzy, trying to imagine the questions they’d ask and what I’d answer and what their follow-up replies to my answers would be, and… Second of all, two days before the interview, I caught a nasty head cold. My sinuses ached and my whole brain felt as if it had been baked in phlegm pudding. Finally, I woke up on the morning of the interview and my nose was leaking like a faucet. I took some cold medicine that dried me up but left me feeling cloudy.
So there you go — nervous, sick AND medicated. My replies to their perfectly reasonable questions made me sound as if I’d never taught a day of EFL in my life. (Remember Elvis Presley at one of his final concerts, trying to sing “Are You Lonesome tonight?”?) I panicked when I couldn’t spit out an answer as fast as they asked the question, and my brain locked down, which led to a domino effect regarding the remainder of the questions. Oddly enough, there was a part of my brain that was watching and analyzing the ongoing fiasco and calmly humming “Turn Out The Lights, The Party’s Over.” My library dream suddenly got legs and walked away from me as fast as it could go.
I’d started reading Fearless Interviewing by Marky Stein before the interview, but had felt too muzzy to concentrate on it properly. In the days since my inglorious performance, I have finished the book. One of the most helpful points that the book makes is that interviewees should develop some strong “Q statements” about themselves. They should be able to cite specifically what they’ve done in the past, using numbers if appropriate, or specific examples.
Even though I’m opposed to writing in my books, I’ll make an exception for Fearless Interviewing, because Stein provides spaces for the reader to write down and refine and hone their Q statements as well as other questions that interviewers like to throw out. After I’ve licked my wounds, I plan to have a fearless interview next time out. The other kind just sucks too bad.