Sunday, February 17, 2013

JET: The Interview.

Okay, so with my application and statement of purpose, I made it to the interview round. A little research has suggested that statistically, this isn't the hard part - it seems as though a pretty high perfectage of applicants get interviews. Luckily I didn't know that at the time, so I went into my interview thinking I was pretty much in, which probably helped my confidence!

I went to my local embassy, and handed in my application voucher (this should have been sent with your interview notification, either by email or post), my police check, and a total of four recent passport-sized photos to reception. There was a table and chairs set up for me to wait at, and a tv had been set up with a video about JET playing. That was pretty nice to watch, because it distracted me from the nerves that had been slowly growing in me for the last hour! When I arrived, there was only one guy waiting. Over about ten minutes, two more girls joined us, and we started chatting a bit about what job we had applied for, what experience we had, if we had chosen April or August departure, and so on. It was another great way to get rid of some nerves, and who knows, I could be meeting some of those people again in a few months!

After a while, a woman came and asked the guy to follow her into an interview room. At that point I thought I would have to wait another twenty minutes before I was interviewed, but the woman came back for me straight away! They must have had two interview rooms going at once, which I hadn't expected. As an aside, if you can, I suggest spending some time at your local embassy to familiarise yourself with the surroundings beforehand. I had been to a few different functions there before, so I was feeling good about finding my way around and recognising different rooms.

I was in a huge room for my interview, but it had a divider in the middle so we only used about the half the room which made sense. There was a long table in front of me, with the three interviewers; two Pakeha (New Zealand European) woman, and one Japanese man. They introduced themselves, and I sat down at a desk in front of them. The only thing on the desk was an upside-down piece of paper. Everyone was very friendly as soon as I came in, they waited for me to get comfortable, and then started asking questions. Here are the questions I remember being asked:

- Please introduce yourself, tell us a little about your life, your education and your hobbies.
- Why do you think you would make a good ALT?
- What do you think an ALT does?
- Please turn over the sheet of paper on the desk. There are five sentences. Could you please read over them, and correct any mistakes you see - if you can, could you please also explain why they are incorrect.
The sentences had quite basic mistakes, four were grammatical mistakes and one was a punctuation mistake (incorrect use of apostrophe). There was no sentence which didn't have a mistake, and I explained the problem with about three of them.
- You have experience teaching primary students - would you prefer to teach primary students? How would you feel about teaching older students?
- You have never lived away from home; how do you think you will handle living so far away?
- Imagine you are placed in a very isolated community, with little to no other JETs around; how would you handle this?
- Imagine you become friends with a number of JETs in your area, and you often visit each other's places. When visiting your other friends, you realise they all have comparatively large apartments, and pay much less rent than you. How would you feel/what would your response be? (This was definitely a question I was not prepared for, and found surprising!)
- What clubs do you think you would like to join at your school?
- How would you explain the difference between the words "slender" and "skinny" to someone with a low level of English? (Note: This is a very common question, although the vocabulary can differ. Other examples I heard of include "special cf. unique" and "huge cf. large." I totally fumbled my answer to this one, but in the end I think I made a valid point.)
- What would your approach be if you were faced with a very shy class?
- How would you introduce colours to a class for the first time?
- If you were asked to present some information on New Zealand to something such as a rotary club in Japan, what three aspects of New Zealand would you focus on?
- Your application says you cannot drive, is this correct?
- Your application says you are allergic to animals...? (I completely misunderstood this question at first! I had written that I don't eat meat apart from fish (which I've heard is unusual/difficult in Japan), so I assumed they were asking about this, and I explained I'm not allergic, I just prefer to not to eat it. Then I said "OH!" and realised he was talking about where I had mentioned an allergy to animal fur. I laughed and explained I had misunderstood and that yes, I am allergic to all animals. He said "so as long as you don't have a cat, you will survive?" hahaha, so I said yes and that it's really sad for me, because I love animals. They all had a laugh at that and said maybe I'll grow out of it one day. I hope so!)

Whew! There would have been more questions I've forgotten and these are definitely not in the order they were asked, but these were the kind of "big" questions. Overall, I'm quite happy with how the interview went. I was very nervous for the first couple of questions, but they were so friendly I was able to relax and make some jokes whilst also answering the questions to the best of my ability. My preparation certainly paid off, and there were few questions I was unprepared for. I'm quite optomistic, but I do now have two months to completely overanalyse my answers and think about where I went wrong, haha! Anyway, all I can say now is good luck to my fellow kiwi applicants. I'll update as soon as I hear from the embassy.

- Annabelle.


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I've been a high school English language teacher on the JET Programme since August 2013. Read about my experiences, advice on being accepted into the JET Programme, and travel tips around Japan on my blog:


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