Cue ecstatic (and relieved) dancing in my room.
There are no interviews in my province, so I had to fly to Halifax, Nova Scotia, for mine. I flew up early Wednesday morning and spent the day walking around the city. I had never really been to Halifax before; I found it to be beautiful, but cold! Brr. My interview was Thursday, so after a lovely sleep-in and a trip to a museum to take my mind off the nerves, it was off to St. Mary’s University!
The interview was both similar and completely different than what I had expected in browsing the JET forums. The person at the registration desk/waiting room was not an ex-JET, but was a senior student at SMU who was studying Japanese and was involved in the International Activities program at the school. She was incredibly friendly and made me feel so much more relaxed. It was a great way to spend the 45 minutes before my interview!
Finally, it was my turn. There was no opportunity to shake any of the interviewers hands, nor did they introduce themselves to me; I was merely asked to sit down in the chair in front of them, then the interview began! I know one of the interviewers was the coordinator of JET Montreal, and that the other lady, who was Japanese, was part of International Activities at SMU. There was also a male interviewer, but I do not know if he was an ex-JET or just part of the JET Programme.
Each of the interviewers each took turns asking me a series of questions. The first one was about current affairs/news makers in Japan. Luckily I had prepared for this one by reading the Japan Times online for the past few weeks – score one for me! As the interview progressed, I found that the interviewers never asked me direct questions about my application, Statement of Purpose, or specifically about any of my background; instead, they posed questions that were quite general and expected me to use examples in my answers. Perhaps the hardest question of the interview was right after my “role play” when they asked me to defend the hiring of a JET ALT over a private ALT to a BOE who was considering hiring the private ALT instead – yikes. Of course, having just completed the role play where my interviewers acted the roles of over-eager, bored, and sleeping Japanese junior high ichinensei while I tried to teach English onomatopoeia… Let’s say my brain wasn’t working to its fullest potential.
The Japanese portion of the interview was not anything I had prepared for. I had indicated Introductory Japanese on my application, but I was asked to read a paragraph that included some kanji without furigana. I stumbled through it because the vocabulary was not familiar and the sentence structures were beyond my comprehension. The Japanese interviewer then asked me a question about the paragraph, and grasping on a key word, I attempted to answer it to the best of my ability. Thankfully, before the Japanese section of the interview began, the lead interviewer told me that the JET Interview was officially over but they wanted to gauge my Japanese ability. Hopefully that means that I didn’t lose marks for my poor comprehension skills! If only they had asked me “Kinou, nani o shimashita ka?” or “Donna tabemono ga suki desu ka?” :P
I believe I was in the room for longer than the 30 minutes – my interview was scheduled for 2:30pm but it was a few minutes late starting, and I don’t think I got out until after 3:15pm. My answers were probably longer than they should have been, but they asked a lot of questions! Overall, it was a great experience. The interviewers were quite lovely and the girl at the registration desk was a blast to talk to. Regardless of whether I get the job or not, I will not regret my decision to fly to Halifax – the shopping was totally worth it. ;)
Unfortunately, the Montreal/Atlantic interview results won’t be released until the week of April 15th – over two months away. Now the real waiting game begins!