Jen's JET Interview of Doom!
Okay, it wasn’t really doom. Here’s the scoop!
In preface, I applied to the JET program last November and just had my interview on Friday, February 20th at 9:05am. JET is a teaching abroad program run by the Japanese government and if I was accepted Sean and I would leave for Japan on August 2nd and be there for at least a year. The interview was at the Consulate of Japan’s office in Detroit in the Renaissance Center.
It is a great relief to have the interview out of the way, except now that it’s out of the way my fate lies in the hands of others. I thought my interview went very well and was actually very easy, no trick questions or odd requests. Some JET interviewees have nerve wracking interviews in which they are asked very difficult questions which they then have to defend or are asked to sing or perform or come up with a lesson on the spot … none of which occurred in my interview. My only fear coming out of it is that I’m not going to look any different than all the other interviewees since they asked me such basic questions. But anyway, here’s the story:
I got to the Renaissance Center about an hour and a half before my actual interview because my grandparents convinced me traffic would be a nightmare, which it was not. So I parked easily and figured out exactly where I needed to be way ahead of time. (I even got my parking validated!) My mom went with me just in case we had trouble parking and she needed to just drop me off, but everything went very smoothly. Poor Sean was very sick so couldn’t go with me. The morning of I wasn’t very nervous, even with all the wait time. My mom and I got a coffee and looked around the Ren-Cen until it was time for me to go through the security check point and up to the Consulate’s office. I went up about 30min early and got to watch a video about JET and chat with the other two interviewees waiting with me. They were both from Kalamazoo, so that was cool, and we laughed at the video together because it was mostly an advertisement for the program and we clearly didn’t need anymore convincing to go to Japan!
The girl I was waiting with was called first and shortly after a very quiet Japanese man named Miki came to get me. He brought me to his office where another girl, a former JET was waiting. It was just the two of them interviewing me and it was oddly relaxed because we were all sitting in these comically over stuffed leather chairs! I was sitting facing these huge panoramic windows with a gorgeous view of the Detroit skyline, and it was a bit distracting, but the sun definitely cheered me up. Miki asked me to introduce myself and tell them why I wanted to be a JET, and that was easy peasy. For the rest of the interview the girl, Jessie, asked me most of the questions. In the actual moment it didn’t seem like they asked me a lot and it went by so fast, but once I got out of there I realized my interview lasted a little over half an hour! Much longer than I was expecting … I was asked things like:
What are your biggest concerns about moving to Japan?
What would you do to motivate uninterested students?
What special talents would you bring to your schools?
What would you do in your free time?
What is your biggest flaw?
What three words would your friends use to describe you?
If your JTE asked you to recommend an American book that exemplifies American culture, what would you suggest? (I said something by Mark Twain, I think)
How would you feel if you were asked to sing at a school assembly?
What would you do if your JTE asked you a complex grammar question you didn’t know the answer to?
What would you say if you were asked why English speakers pronounce the word “a” both ay and uh? (That was tricky!)
What the biggest change you expecting? (This question from Miki, I had no idea what he was asking, so I talked about how excited I was to experience a country so different from my own and all the changes it would cause in my life.)
What would you say if a student told you they thought America was dangerous?
What stereotypes about American culture would you try to dispel?
What would you bring with you to dispel homesickness?
Give us an example of an activity you would do in the classroom.
What do you think the role of an ALT is?
Did you have a placement request? (Yes, Shizuoka.)
There were lots more but I can’t remember everything. After that they asked if I had any questions so I asked how the students and teachers deal with a new JET coming in the middle of the school year and what the chances were of getting to meet my predecessor. I already knew the answers I would probably get but wanted to ask something. Since mine was the first interview of the day I got to pick up a bunch of free stuff, like a few copies of the JET Journal and other pamphlets. I felt bad when they made me take everything because there were only a few copies and they clearly wouldn’t last for the next round of interviews. When I walked back out into the waiting area there were tons of interviewees waiting, at least ten or so. That naturally made me nervous, since they’re all essentially my competition! But I felt confident answering all the questions and didn’t leave hitting myself for saying something ridiculous or getting flustered, so I don’t have any regrets!
I’ll hear the final results sometime at the end of March/beginning of April. At that time they’ll basically tell me if I’m on the short list, meaning I got in and am just waiting for placement, if I’m on the alternate list, meaning I could go if other people drop out or there is more room, or if I’ve been declined and then it’s game over. I expect all of you to be praying for me or at least doing something supportive, I need good vibes!