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When you apply for anything, you know and accept that the first step is to get through the shortlisting process and receive that email informing you that you have an interview! It is usually about then that the nerves kick in and you realise that a lot rests on those thirty minutes of talking about yourself and how you do your job. The interview I had this week however, I didn’t even need to apply for! I guess I was almost head hunted! What was it about? Well that is the topic of this week’s waffle…

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I’m often the person in a session who volunteers to be the guinea pig and the same applies to when people ask for help within university. I’m always keen to support and help others and the interview which I attended was one of those opportunities where I could help a colleague and, maybe, also some learners. Within the faculty where I work, there is another department which is focused on, among other things, education. Within this programme there is a module titled students as learners and, it was in this module, that I was asked to be the subject of an interview. The two interviewers completed their task very professionally and put me at ease, encouraging me to answer the questions in depth as well as starting the interview with questions which relaxed me and ‘lightened’ the mood considerably. Who would have thought there was so much controversy between iPhones and Android! Although I wasn’t actually applying for a job, I did prepare for the interview and, as well as being enjoyable, I learnt so much about myself within the process.

  • Being able to prepare – With most job interviews you do not have the luxury to know the exact questions which you will be asked. You can probably know the general topics, but the actual wording of the questions is unknown. With this week’s interview I was allowed to see the exact questions before the session which allowed me to consider how I was going to answer, as well as to make some brief notes to support me within the session. This might be perceived as a false situation, but it allowed me to clarify my responses before hand so that the interview I felt, ran more smoothly. As a waffler, the notes also allowed me to keep my answers focused and to the point – two very important skills for answering interview questions! The preparation also allowed me to think about my response before actually starting the interview.

  • Benefitted my thinking – The third years within the Primary Education degree are currently writing an assignment about their philosophy of education. Although I do not work on this module, I have had several informal discussions with the students about their philosophies and how they aspire to implement these within the classroom. Having these conversations not only allow them to further consider their own philosophies, but they also allow me to examine my own. As I prepared for the interview, I found that the questions also encouraged me to do this, while having the questions in advance allowing me to have the time to do it. The questions, apart from one (sorry), were well worded and open which allowed me to develop my own personal response to each. As I prepared my answers, the questions challenged my own thinking about the topic, encouraging me to have the internal discussion with myself to clarify my views and opinions. One which I found particularly enlightening was one which related to how I learn. I’ve been learning for some time now, but it was only through thinking about my answer to the question that I realised that I was a very independent learner who prefers the time to think and consider points. I like to move at my own speed and not be restricted by the speed of learning of others. Blogging (or in my case waffling) also encourages me to consider my views/thoughts on a range of topics, although the questions/topics are more self regulated. It would be interesting to have a topic a month which was given to me, or to the blogging sphere, for me to waffle about. This would be very challenging and would definitely impact on my own philosophies. The Opinion Minion section of my live show attempts to replicate this, although the topics are again chosen by myself which might actually limit the reflection.

  • Working on a non-vocational module – As I meet learners and tutors from other faculties I am always interested to know what the students do after they complete their degrees. As you might be aware, I work in Initial Teacher Education, so the next step after leaving university for the students, is generally identified at the beginning of the programme. This means that throughout the degree, the content, assessment and learning is often focused on achieving this final aim. My views about attitudes towards learning within a university are well known, and I find it very interesting discussing with learners on what I interpret as a non-vocational course. Although learners might know what they want to do after the degree or what it will lead to, the actual job/career is not actually defined by the degree. An example of this would be my own degree. I completed a BSc(Hons) in…wait for it…you would never guess..Environmental Studies and Social Biology – there you go! (time for Google?). Throughout the degree I knew I wanted to be a primary school teacher, but the actual course content did not lead specifically to this. Looking back on the course, I attended sessions to learn about the subject, with my intrinsic motivation arising from actually wanting to learn about the subject rather than wanting everything to relate to my chosen profession. It was while completing the interview and reflecting afterwards that I started to realise how appealing working on a non-vocational programme is to my own philosophy of learning and teaching.

  • Every opportunity in life has the possibility of providing new ideas and directions. Although the perception that I was ‘head hunted’ for the interview is probably incorrect, I am very pleased that I was asked and completed the process. Initially my reason for doing the interview was to help a colleague and maybe provide starting points for the learners to reflect and engage with, in order to challenge and increase the depth of their own thinking. Unbeknown to me, the process actually impacted, influenced and challenged my own philosophies of education and learning as well as possibly, my own future within higher education.

    I look forward to hearing your comments and ideas, please add them in the comments below or send them to me via Twitter(@iwilsonysj), Facebook, Google+ or email.

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    Have fun and I’ll catch you later

    1 Comment

    Helen · November 24, 2015 at 8:50 am

    As the colleague who runs the module, I’d like to take the opportunity – on his waffly good blog – to offer belated thanks to Ian who not only helped me out but provided a great opportunity for my students to design an interview and gain some qualitative data that focuses on teaching and learning. Due to last week’s Reading Week, it was not until yesterday’s session that I gave my group the opportunity to reflect on the interview process. The questions had been designed, discussed and refined as a group (yes, one closed question slipped through the quality control net but that’s OK as it gives my students something
    to discuss in their assignments). One point that came up in our discussion was whether Ian should have been given the questions ahead of the interview. Some felt that the responses might have been more authentic if he hadn’t been thinking time prior to the interview itself. They questioned whether there is a
    possibility that responses might be too manufactured rather than what comes to mind in the moment when a question is asked. The group acknowledged that responses might have been more brief without preparation time – and possibly more waffly – however, they wondered whether they might have been more genuine. I asked the group whether they would like to see questions beforehand if they had been the one interviewed and they didn’t respond in a way that suggested that they would benefit from this. When I asked them whether they would like to see questions for a job interview prior to the interview, most agreed very
    strongly. So, does the nature and purpose of the interview determine this? I reminded the group that many of them are ‘Reflectors’ as determined by a learning styles questionnaire by Honey and Mumford (a useful process to start discussion but needs to be critiqued) which means that many of the group need time to
    reflect on their thinking before responding. I made the decision to give Ian the questions not because I didn’t think he could think (and waffle) on his feet but rather that for the purposes of this interview (which leads into an assignment) more thought-out responses would be more useful and no less genuine. So thanks again to a willing colleague for being interviewed. I found the discussion that Ian and I had after the interview very useful and gave me the opportunity to reflect on my teaching too. I haven’t forgotten that I still owe you a coffee!

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