wingblossom: (fandom (digimon 02))
[personal profile] wingblossom
Okay. I've been stalling on this for months, but at some point I figured I should go ahead and talk about my JET interview.

Or in other words, mention everything I've been telling my friends for weeks and weeks, rather than relegate everything to the back of my head while I read JET forum posts. Which, let's be honest, is actually a very tempting option! The results of the interview I had in February are coming out sometime this week (anywhere from the first until the tenth), and as much as I'm trying to convince myself that I don't care about what happens, in all honesty, I am a little nervous.

Really. :D

Part of this may be due to the fact that the application process is so very long. The online app was up in early October, my written app had to reach the Washington consulate by November 24th, I received word that I scored an interview in early January, and my aforementioned interview was on February 16th. That's a month-and-a-half gap. And from what I've found by looking up information online, candidates in the U.S. seem to be the only ones who receive no hint as to what their chances are before the results come out.

So as of right now, I'm going to stop imagining each and every little thing I could have done wrong during the application process, and c&p some post-interview thoughts I had while talking to everyone instead.

First things first? The interview wasn't nearly as intimidating as I'd been led to believe it was. From all the information posted up on personal websites and such, I had the impression that it would be like -- well, you know the Imperial Army's method of interrogation in Star Wars? Think of that: I pictured it as cold, sterile, and designed to induce as much discomfort as possible. Instead, my interview was like a breath of fresh air; from the time when I walked into the building to the time I left, everyone was as hospitable as possible.

It was snowing heavily that day, and I didn't want to risk the possibility of being a minute late to the interview, so when I got to 34th Street and Park Avenue, I ducked into Pret a Manger, the first cafe I found. Then I bought lunch, and sat there until 2:30 trying not to be really anxious. For more than two hours straight. I also looked over possible questions and listened to my iPod as a means of distraction.

When I reached the consulate, where all the New York interviews were held at, I was still half-an-hour ahead of schedule. I checked myself in at the front desk, and spoke to a woman nearby who marked my name off on the list of applicants and then told me what floor to go up to. Once I got there, I was greeted by someone else (later, I found out that she was a recent...grad? alumni? of the JET program herself) who showed me the coat rack, checked to make sure I had the prerequisite forms of ID, and then brought me over to a waiting area set-up like a typical office, with groups of people split up into different areas by cubicle sections.

The group that I ended up with had this guy who was placed in Kagoshima as an ALT last year; clustered around him, a bunch of other interviewees asking him questions. Most of them were, predictably, about the interviews and how they were judged/scored/ranked/possibly graded down to a fraction of a number to determine acceptances and failures. *g* He seemed genuinely open to chatting with all of us, so I ended up bombarding him with questions myself, mainly about his experience in Japan and his initial set-up in terms of work and lodging. One thing I remember is his comment on the place he was given in Kagoshima, which was apparently drafty to the point of ridiculousness. Example? In the winter, he would wake up to see frost on his own face in the morning. However, he also said that the Board of Education subsidized his rent, and that despite the drawbacks, he still enjoyed the JET program a great deal.

He also mentioned that he went to the base school he was placed at within his first week in Kagoshima, and that work started not too long after that. I don't recall what else I asked him -- as time passed, more and more of the applicants in our group were brought over to the Interview Room. The clerk at the front door would wave us over, and we'd be greeted by one of the interviewers, who we shook hands with and introduced ourselves to. At 3:30, I went through the same process. Waved over, introduced to an amiable obaa-san sort of lady (who did end up being one of my interviewers), and then brought down a long hallway to a room in the back where the other two interviewers were. DUN DUN DUN.


I was grinning throughout the whole thing. At first, because I was so nervous, but then because I got caught up in the actual questions and was genuinely enthusiastic to respond and hear what the interviewers had to say. Out of my three interviewers, two were quite friendly. The other interviewer was fairly standoffish, which seems just par for the course: online, all info points to the interview being a Good Cop, Bad Cop kind of routine. Also, the youngest of my interviewers drew attention to the fact that I had graduated from LaGuardia right off the bat! This surprised me a bit, since I thought that anything connected to my high school records would be ignored in favor of college.

Interestingly, they didn't throw any of the really tricky questions (that I had spent days prepping for) my way. Most of the queries had to do with adaptability and my interest in teaching. They didn't ask many questions about specific areas of interest pertaining to Japan; instead, they focused on general questions that were fairly open-ended. For example, one of the interviewers asked me why Sendai was my first choice for a placement request, and another interviewer asked me about any difficulties I thought I might face while living in Japan. Another question revolved around teaching Japanese schoolchildren about typically "American" constructs, and there was a point where I had to give a short teaching demonstration on a holiday, so I chose Thanksgiving.

I think I presented myself well! I refuse to go into depth about the answers I gave, though, unless anyone's really curious. XD

Overall, the interview pretty much flew by. I felt prepared for everything that was asked of me, and on the whole, it was a heck of a lot less like the inquisition I had expected. Even though no-one asked me about the governor of New York or the four main islands of Japan or its political parties or Noh theater or yes, even Tokugawa history like I thought they would. It was a pretty exciting day. *g* After I was done with the interview, I said bye to the person who checked me in and the guy in the waiting area, and then made my way back to the train station. I was still smiling all the way there.

And now, all I have to do is keep my fingers crossed a few more days! No matter what happens, I think I can deal with it.
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wingblossom: (Default)
let's go exploring

November 2011


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