In every interview there are two questions that are always asked or come up in some form. What adjectives best describes you and what is your leadership style? These questions are meant to give an employer or potential teammates an idea of who you are and discover your ambitions as a candidate. While these questions are important, there are other equally crucial questions that lean into the empathy of a person and their interaction with other people. For example, what are your views on equity, social justice and inclusion? How do you achieve all three? What are your views for the future of this organization and what have you heard about us? After all the questions have been asked and you jump back in your car think about this:
“When all the questions have been answered and you are in your car driving home. Did the real you show up?”
If you were hired, can you live with the person who they expected and execute their expectations? What are your expectations of yourself?
Throughout my time on earth with 36 years of experience, I have interviewed for positions a total of twenty times. Out of those twenty times, I have not been moved forward or accepted due to a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons, I can’t help. Politics, bias, etc. Each time I sat down with potential employers, I went in polished looking like a shiny half-dollar. With each conversation and meeting with human resources officials and school teams, I have created a solid foundation as to who I am, what type of leader I will be and the vision I have for teaching and learning.
When given the question in interviews to describe myself in a certain number of adjectives, I typically say:
I use these adjectives because this is truly who I am. I like to think deeply and ask questions. In administrative meetings, we dive deep into deciding the best course of action. I focus on leaning into the “why” behind our thoughts and the “who” will be impacted and “what” will be the benefit of such change. This is exactly who I am and clearly describes my personality. Whenever my teachers are leading development or my sponsors are executing activities for students, they know I am devoted to their efforts and will assist on any way I can. When I became a High School Assistant Principal, I was tasked with leading the office of Student Activities. Basically, I called myself the “head cheerleader” and I mean it! I felt it was my chief role and responsibility to motivate, engage and empower my students to elevate their school by using their interests and school spirit. Without saying, my energy always flowed with maximum pressure into everything I did.
“…focus on leaning into the “why” behind our thoughts and the “who” will be impacted and “what” will be the benefit of such change.”
In finding who you are, there we discover our purpose and catch our breakthrough. Once we discover and truly understand our purpose, marvelous things will happen. Ideas come alive and conversations are rich with depth and veracity. To get there one might experience adversity, failure, discomfort, and disappointment with starting and stopping. Each emotion I have experienced and felt. Being passed over, given no warning, explanation, feedback or “heads up”. For a period of my life I acquired deep doubt in my self worth and abilities. Thus, finding myself struggling to remain confident in myself and my purpose in education. To this day, I am a work in progress. My whole life, I have played the game “safe” because I lived with doubt and fear of making the wrong decisions. Doubting my decision making abilities and being fearful of letting people down. My go-to strategy was to be “safe”. How could I make gains and be strategic enough to execute my passions? Some may view this as a personality flaw or self-imposed barrier to my authentic self or who I truly am. At this point in my life, I have become most comfortable processing, thinking critically, asking questions and collaborating without fear of rejection.
Stay tuned for Part 2. In the next post, I uncover a part of my life that shaped me into being a better leader, father and mentor.