I was driving to a meeting in late September when I heard my phone beep. Because we have no cell service at home, I have a cheap TracPhone, and I only get its messages when I drive out of our local area. I couldn’t stop to check, but usually anyone trying to call the cell phone would also call the landline. However, when I checked after my meeting, two of the messages were from a standardized testing company that I had applied to 10 days earlier, requesting a contact. I was a bit annoyed that they had used the cell number, since I only gave it as a back-up contact, but I was happy to have a response of to the application.
After I bought myself a sandwich for lunch, I parked in a pleasant recreation area, and pulled out the phone. I got through to one of the callers, and, our conversation (aka phone interview) being satisfactory, we set up an interview for October when she would be coming to Vermont. (I made a mental apology for my earlier reaction to the cell phone use; in my application, I apparently mistyped one of the digits in my landline number. These callers were persevering with the back-up number, a good sign.) This was all a great appetizer for my lunch at the picnic table in the sunshine. The only cloud was the low hourly wage, but I am learning to adjust my expectations these days.
One morning last week, almost a month later, I dressed in professional clothing, feeling good to be out of jeans, and headed out armed with resume and recommendations. I arrived right on time, in the hotel lobby as instructed, expecting to be taken to a room. The interview was actually in the lobby, mushy music playing in the background. The interviewer apologized for the distraction, mentioning that as a former elementary teacher she herself could easily tune out background noise. As a former band teacher, I said I could do the same, and in fact, after we moved out of sight of the hotel check-in, I didn’t notice it again.
At this interview, I felt that my experience and skills were recognized and respected. The level of the discussion about potential assignments and what they required in practical and general terms was professional. I felt I was talking to an equal, and I appreciated that much of the interview centered on administrative and leadership possibilities and my qualifications in those areas.
It was amusing, then, to shift gears near the end of the interview, for a hands-on test, where I had to read a script out loud and copy names and numbers from a printed list into little boxes. Be careful to print clearly and do not go outside the lines! You may have a wonderful resume, but you still have to demonstrate the basic skills.
It’s very possible that I will be working for this organization in some capacity later this winter, although it will be weeks before that is confirmed, since it takes time to do the reference checks. I liked being in my professional sphere of comfort, and I liked the combination of personal respect and institutional integrity that was conveyed by the interviewer. This is the kind of short-term job that retired educators take on as a meaningful winter activity to bring in a little cash. For me, it’s part of my on-going exploration of life without a regular salary.