“It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.” James Thurber
For every choral director/conductor there is a perfect choir and for every choir, there is a perfect director/conductor. There are times it just “feels right” and there are times it does not.
The past few weeks we’ve looked at the interview process from the position of those conducting the interviews. Let’s switch to the person being interviewed, with a Choral Ethics slant. In the first of our series, I asked choral organizations to think about their group needs and wants, both now and where they hope to be in the future. I am asking you now as a job seeker to do the same. We have to know what we want in order to get it. We don’t often think specifically what we want and need to be happy in a position.
What do you really want in a position? As you look at the classifieds, what drives you to apply to one position over another? As you participate in the interview process, what are your goals? Can you see yourself in that position for several years? Will this position be a step up for you or a step down? How close is the description to your Dream Job? There are no “right” answers to anything of these questions, just the right answer for YOU!
As the interview process progresses, do you like the people involved? Are you tolerating them or saying what you think they want you to say? You most likely will be working with a few of them if you gain the position, so be honest with your answers. It is not helpful to present yourself one way when in fact, you are someone different. How many times has someone contacted me about firing their director, saying they behaved one way in the interview and behaved totally different in the position? A LOT!
You will be asked questions in an interview and, in a good interview; you will be asked if you have any questions. If you don’t have any questions, or any potential question you might have had has already been answered, great! It is the best of situations and hopeful for the future if they are clear in their expectations. If you need several “out of the box” questions, I still have several from Lulu* for you as well as one of my own:
- Once or twice a year, schedule permitting, will I be able to accept requests for the choir to sing in a charity situation?
- What efforts would I be expected make to encourage diversity in the choir? In the audience?
- What is the choir’s policy for gender neutral performance attire?
- Will I have assistance with clerical work, such as filing of the music or formatting a program (or church bulletin) for the printer? What are the usual deadlines?
There are two interview behaviors I feel strongly about; interview attire and after interview contact.
I do believe in dressing for the position you hope to have. That does not mean wearing concert black and white but business wear! I was a member of a search committee for an organist. Our eventual pick wore a tee-shirt, shorts and sandals with bare feet to his interview. When it was time for the audition portion of the interview, he pulled out a pair of gym socks and put on his organ shoes while we watched. Eww. He played beautifully and his interview was great so we hired him. I asked him later why he wore shorts. He told me he thought he would be wearing a robe for the job so didn’t think it was a big deal. I told him to wear a shirt and tie for his next interview!
I think it’s a good idea to follow up with a thank you note, either by email or snail mail. And then, leave it alone. The organization interviewing you should tell you how long they anticipate making a decision and if they will contact you, one way or another. It’s fine to ask for that information if it is not volunteered. That way, you can move on with your life.