As a performing musician who teaches on the side, I've never had the dubious pleasure of having to deal with interviews and human resources. Actually, it would be not that much of a stretch to say that I've never held what most people would term a "real" job... at least, not a white-collar job that would be the normal outcome for a candidate interview process.
All of my work tends to be based upon direct tests of your skills. So, basically... can you play a musical instrument up to a high enough standard in an audition and then you are invited to a probation period to make sure you aren't a complete arsehole to colleagues. Likewise with teaching, you give lessons to a select few students in front of a panel who then assess your teaching skills and style.
So, late last year, it came as quite a surprise when one of the international schools in The Netherlands decided to use an video interview Human Resources tool to try and fill a Violin Teacher position at their school! Normally, you will have a short-list of applicants and recommendations who are then invited to give trial lessons...
... after all, you are selecting for teaching skill?
So, I approached this whole endeavour with a bit of barely concealed contempt. I would have better understood this as a "legitimate" process if you were screening for thousands of people with non-specialised skills... but when your list is about 5 people, and it is for a highly specialised type of skill... well, it is a bit weird. Actually, I'm not even sure it is a good way to screen for non-specialised jobs either!
So, seeing as it was the first time that I've ever had an interview... let along a recorded one, so I thought it was a good idea to try the practice question to see how it all worked. Well, you have 2 minutes to give an answer... which is horrible... I guess that is the way of the modern world... short, sweet and with little depth.
Seriously... what motivates me?
Well... I have to say that this question wouldn't be it... I'm not a one-dimensional person, and different things on different days motivate me to do different things. Mostly, I just like doing things because I enjoy doing them and I am curious. Or is it because I love making the world a better place, one little violin lesson at a time... or is it because kids are the future of the something something...
I'm motivated to teach violin because I think kids should learn to apply themselves to a task that takes effort to master... and not just get easy and quick gratification. They learn to persevere... and they develop solutions, and that perseverance is guided and inspired by the input from the teacher.
I enjoy playing music myself because it is an interesting and evolving puzzle and communication to interact with colleagues.. it is a chance to live on the edge and solve problems in real time in a performance, and to come together as greater than the sum of the parts. It is a chance to inspire and lead others, or to play critical roles in the team.
I can't remember what I had answered..
Really... is there an obsession about motivating? Normally, I would suggest that an electric cattle prod is probably a good motivator!
I find that in teaching, as in performance... if the teacher or leader can show the joy that they get from playing, then the student or the ensemble will be similarly inspired to rise to the occasion.
... but let us get to the heart of the problem. As a music teacher, you will be lucky to see a student once a week. Sure, there are rare students that you can inspire to be completely obsessed about practicing... but let's not kid ourselves, what most parents think is "practicing" is just rote playing and enforcing both good and bad habits... and due to the fact that most "practice" is unsupervised, it will likely be terrible habits that are enforced. Plus the idea that smashing your head against a wall multiple times is the best way to solve a problem...
... but in these schools, the kids are perfect angels and the parents are never at fault. If every child isn't a genius and prodigy in every aspect of their schooling... well, it MUST be the teachers!
So... I did the recorded interview... I could do it in my own time, but I had to walk downstairs after each of the questions... to purge myself of the despair that each question evoked. Really, is this the way that most of the world selects for the best talent? Sure, there are problems with the audition method... but this "interviewing" sort of thing is terrible... especially when the questions are so bland and formulaic.
In the end, you are choosing for people who can do interviews... not the skill-set that you are actually NEEDING!
So, there was another round of in-person interviews after this (I didn't pass the recorded round). A friend did that round... and that was eventually followed by the last round. So, 3 rounds for the entire process, during which there was no mention of VIOLIN or MUSIC TEACHING until the last round!
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