Hello, and welcome to the school. I’m Z, one of the governors…

It is one of the perquisites of the post of school governor that one is asked to sit on interviewing panels. I do enjoy this. It is particularly interesting when one is interviewing support staff, such as Learning Support/Teaching Assistants, Librarians or Clerical staff, because one has quite a deal of scope.

This was the situation today. It is a temporary post, for maternity cover. I interviewed the person who currently holds the job, a year or two ago and liked her immensely. Her enthusiasm and aptitude shone through in a strong field. I spoke to her today, to congratulate her on the impending birth of her baby and, as we chatted, I realised I knew her via her husband, who comes into the shop periodically. Al delivers a £15 fruit box to them each week. It is one of those surnames that is neither common nor uncommon and I’d not connected.

We interviewed four people, all of whom were interesting and really pleasant people. Again, a strong field, but it came down to two. I was inclined towards one, because of the enthusiasm she had shown … I’m a sucker for genuine enthusiasm, I think it is inspirational, particularly for children*, and she will be dealing with teenagers. She started nervously but, when questioned (and I don’t believe in aggressive** interviewing, I think you can get more out of people by asking for their strengths; their weaknesses come through unconsciously), she blossomed. The other two on the panel had been slightly more drawn towards another candidate but, being reasonable people, agreed with me in the end.

Heh heh, no, it was not I who convinced them, but a careful evaluation of strengths, weaknesses and the need for someone who could slot into a temporary position at once. In fact, I would have been happy with the other person too, but she would have needed some training and support in the short term.

I was in the shop all morning and finished at 1.30. I feel a bit bereft. I reluctantly handed over to Al and went back at 5 o’clock to help him pack up.

*and me, who has never entirely grown up

**probing, perhaps, a gentle but thorough probe is always a good idea and can be a pleasure

7 comments on “Hello, and welcome to the school. I’m Z, one of the governors…

  1. jen

    naughty Z. i imagine you can get most to go along with you. and the peachy part is, you stand on the side of good so it works out for all concerned.

  2. Z

    If I went by first impressions, I’d have gone for the lady with the fabulous shoes. She was tall, blonde and slender, a year older than me and had the confidence to wear red 4 inch stiletto heels.

    I’ve only ever once made a bad mistake, and that was the whole committee jointly – two of us, me and one other, had faint doubts which we decided were unimportant. It caused huge problems and taught me a great deal.

    I did, once, persuade a panel to go with the person I wanted rather than another whom they thought suitable but I had doubts about. I explained the doubts and they trusted my instincts – the person appointed is great, but of course I’ve no idea if the other person would have been.

  3. PI

    My late partner and I once had to interview a possible third partner as we both had family committments. As soon as we saw J walking up the garden path we knew she was the one. Fortunately such haphazard instinctive feelings proved right and we had years of happy collaboration. What did she look like? A young robin.

  4. The Boy

    Interviewing is an art. I normally quite enjoy it and have had far more successful hires than failures. Boy though I’ve made some stonking bad decisions. The worst one was, like your comment above, where I convinced myself to ignore some faint doubts.

  5. Z

    Instinct is really important, especially if it’s someone you will be working with closely. I have sometimes been happy, we having narrowed our choice down to two, to leave the final decision to the person who will be working with the person appointed.


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