Well, the "first interview" is behind me. It is a mix of relief and disappointment that I see the event now, which is interesting.
After a fairly busy and a little stressful day, I decided to get myself ready 30 minutes before the scheduled time of 6:30pm (NZ Time) for the Skype interview. I figured that would give me time to disengage from my work day, freshen up and generally just "get ready". So when 6pm rolled around, I stopped the work I was doing (being self-employed means there is never really a finish to the work day, just a point where one stops "working" and does something else for a time...) and had a shave. Finding that after doing what I needed to do to "get ready" and "make myself presentable" I still had 10 minutes to spare, I decided, not being the sort of person who easily just sits around "doing nothing", to start getting my dinner ready: this meant washing my rice and putting it in the rice cooker. :) I do like the "easy meals". :-D
So, come 6:29pm, I am sitting in front of my computer, work-day "mess" squared away, Skype up and running, camera and sound checked, earphones plugged in and working, me expecting "the call". At 6:32pm, with no sign of the Chinese contact, I decided to type a "Hello, here I am" message to my contact. A few minutes later, I was advised that the person who was actually conducting the interview was not at work yet. No problem, I said, I can wait. Twenty minutes later, and I am beginning to think that I've been "stood up". But just at that point where I was thinking that I would ask for a re-schedule, the interviewer (and her boss) suddenly arrived and it was all go.
After an initial brief round of pleasantries, I was asked to "introduce myself". I must be getting very rusty at this sort of thing (what with it being more than 20 years since I last had to apply for a job), and I found myself immediately at a loss of where to start. Not being one who is usually shy to ask for help when at a loss, I enquired about what exactly they wanted me to say. Once I understood the gist of where they wanted my intro to go, I launched into a 5 or 6 minute intro to me, primarily focused on my work history (as that was what seemed both relevant and what the interviewer was looking for).
There were 2 people on the other end of the line: one being the interviewer, the other being "her boss". I wasn't clear on what actual roles these 2 people fulfill in the real world, but simply accepted I was being interviewed by 2 people, and just to "get on with it" as best I could. I was, however, very surprised when the interviewer said to me that she must now translate my intro to her boss: odd that the boss of an English School needed to have what I said translated. Even more startling, is that my 5-6 minute monologue was summed up by the interviewer in less than 30 seconds. That did not bode well.
Given that this interview and the initial contact was at the behest of the other party, the next 2 questions both surprised me and annoyed me a little. I was asked "Where are you living now?" and "Do you have any previous experience teaching Chinese children?". The reason I was both surprised and a little annoyed, is that the answer to both questions, along with a good summation of my work history that clearly shows I had somewhat minimal teaching experience (6 months), is fully available in my resume here on echinacities.com - the place where this teaching school initially found me and contacted me. Which means that either they didn't read the information, or they did and didn't make any notes, or they did and didn't understand much of what I wrote, or they did and the information was never passed onto the interviewer and her boss. Regardless, it left me thinking that there was a distinct lack of preparedness and co-ordination at "the other end" - not something I like in a prospective employer.
A final, almost "throw away" question also had me wondering. I was asked what salary I wanted. The job description I read clearly stated 10,000 RMB per month, which also seems about the average (if slightly lower end of average) for western people teaching English in China, and so I felt "odd" having to simply tell them that I was happy to accept the salary as offered by them in their own job description. In hindsight, I did think that perhaps they might have been "fishing" to see if I would accept a lower salary. In truth, I would have accepted as low as 8,000 RMB, if all the other benefits listed in the job description (like free accommodation) were proven to be true, right and accurate. But also, I think it is important to set the "tone" of expectation early: if I show myself too ready to "compromise", possibly the Chinese mind will adjust itself accordingly and always expect me to do this, which devalues me unnecessarily - I'm not THAT desperate to get the job. :)
The interview ended quite abruptly at that point: clearly the revelation of my current residence NOT being China, and that I had no teaching experience of Chinese children, ended any usefulness I had to the interviewer and her boss. Of course, there were the usual "thanks for your time" and "we'll let you know" blandishments, but it was clear to me that I was unsuitable and won't be hearing from them again.
I'm not sure exactly what I learned from this exercise. I don't know if the seeming lack of preparedness on the part of my potential employer is common in China (or indeed, anywhere else in the world these days), or whether I was just overlaying my own "attention to detail" that would compel me to research what information I had available on any individual should I need to interviewing them. Clearly, in a technical sense, the interview was a "waste of time", as it seemed somewhat obvious that my lack of current residence in China and having not taught Chinese children before were the "deal breakers" - 2 facts that would have been easily established by spending 10 minutes reading my resume.
So, while I feel disappointed and a little put-off by the experience, of course I will continue to seek further interviews, and of course I still want to come to China to live and work. Maybe with some "rumination", I will glean something useful from last night's experience that will help me in my next interview. Perhaps something as simple as an email to any prospective employer before an interview confirming that they've actually READ my resume would be a good idea... ;-)
Due to a few ingracious posters engaging their spiteful personalities in their comments, i have disabled further comments.
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