Interac America: The In-person Interview
This seemed like a lot more work then I was expecting when it came to getting ready fro this interview but I was so excited that I think I just cruised through getting most of it done. At the end of the phone interview Martin said that he would be contacting my references and that I would be getting an email with everything I would need to have for the interview and things I would have to turn in to the company. We then said our goodbyes and that was that. So I got the email about 20 minutes later and at the time I was still at work so I waited until I got home to look at it.
I got home and opened up my laptop because I wanted to be able to see everything (I usually don’t use my computer that often).
So I am looking at everything I have to bring and thinking “Oh man, how am I going to get all of this done when I work from 8 to 6:30? I won’t have any time,” and then just as I am thinking this I get another email from the woman that was in charge of all of the legal documents with all the paperwork I was going to need to either send into the main branch or take with me to the interview.
There was a document that was about 15 or so pages and it detailed all the official paperwork I had to send off. I was under the standard candidate checklist (there is a checklist for recent/future graduates) so I had to get two ID Photos (at very specific measurements, it was the most difficult part to get), a copy of my passport, my resume (made to a specific format), a copy of my diploma, my transcripts, sign the criminal background consent form in the packet, a criminal background check, and a copy of my TESOL (Teaching English as a Second or Other Language) certification.
The Official Documents
Right before I had gotten off the phone with Martin he had stressed to me how important it was that I get my photos done professionally because I had to have my head size be 22-28 millimeters (mm (super specific)).
So I went into Walmart the next day because the photo center was closed by the time I decided to go and went up to the woman behind the counter. I asked her if she could do the measurements and when I tell you I spent at least 45 minutes in there with her trying to get the picture to the perfect size. She would print out one and measure it and it would be like 32 mm and then the next would be 36 mm. She finally figured it out after numerous tries and all I could do was thank her for her time and stick all the change I had (I don’t usually carry cash) in the little tip jar off to the side.
Getting my Passport copied was easy I just handed it to my mom and asked her to copy it while she was at work because she had those resources. (By the way, I did mine in black in white but if you can do it in color that is preferred.)
The resume part of the requirements was not difficult but it did take a little time. I had to remember all the way back to the beginning of my schooling because they want to know if you have fully completed 12 years of education in English. I was texting my mom left and right trying to get when I started school and what preschool did I go to. They give you a basic format that they want you to follow and you just have to fill it out exactly like that.
The copy of the diploma also simple, and I put in for my transcripts that night know it would only take a day or two but I wasn’t sure if I would get them in time for me to leave for Orlando (I didn’t, I sent them in after the interview)
I just signed the background form that they gave me and used their recommended website to get my background check done (it only took a few minutes and it was $19.99). I actually didn’t know that I had to have this for the interview, I thought I only had to have the consent form. I ended up sending all of the documents to the main office myself because I wanted to send everything at one time.
Once again, the copy of my certification was simple.
The Other Necessary Documents
There were four print outs for the presentation and seminar parts of the interview.
Martin had told me to watch the videos for how to do the video portion of the interview and he even said that “plagiarism” was encouraged so that it didn’t make it difficult for the others who were going to be looking at it (mostly because the videos are made for the Japanese companies to give them a sort of demo of what we will be like).
The first set of print outs was a guideline for the ALT Video. We had to complete 4 tasks in less than 6 minutes and the woman interviewing us said it really had to be 5 minutes, but they wanted us to go just a bit over that so they said 6 minutes. So task 1 was to give a self-introduction (自己紹介：じこしょかい：jikoshokai) for about 1 minute. Task 2 was for us to read a small paragraph to show our dictation and projection, that was about 30 seconds. Task 3 was to do an activity for a class of third year elementary school students and task 4 was to do an activity for a group of students that were assumed to be older.
The second set of print outs was just the ALT dress Standards, and boy is it detailed. The next one was financial information and examples of previous ALTs monthly budgets. There was also a set of pre-interview questions that they had us fill out (which I figured out when I printed them were almost the exact same question Martin asked in the phone interview). The last print out was about getting you International Driver’s Permit.
Getting to Orlando
Traveling for this interview was kind of a pain in the butt. Mostly because I was broke and I had to get to Orlando which was about a 9 hour bus ride for me. I use the bus so often that I even know all the tricks to getting my own seats and how to make sitting with another person comfortable.
There I was spending $158 that I really did not have to go to an interview that I was not even sure that I was going to get into. I was so nervous and the night before I got into an argument with my mom about going to the interview at all because she didn’t really think that I should go. After a long bus ride I finally make it to Orlando and I have to get an Uber (it’s a sort of taxi service) to get to my uncle’s house, where I was staying, because he was out of town.
We had to bring things for the interview that weren’t so hard to travel with on the bus because I put them up and out of the way. I had a large poster for the demo lesson, a folder with all my paperwork that I currently had on me, my small suitcase, and a purse. In hindsight, I probably should have left some of that at home.
My schedule for this journey was pretty simple. I left home on a Friday, got to Orlando Friday night, went to the interview Saturday (that lasted all day), and came back home on Sunday. I did not want to spend too much time out anywhere. We had a break in school with my job and I wanted to relax as much as possible before I had to go back to work.
Friday was pretty simple. I left home on the bus at about 9:50 AM (the bus left late because of a disgruntled customer) and got to Orlando around 8 PM. I requested an Uber and it came about 3 minutes later. I rode for about 30 minutes before we got to my uncle’s apartment. I slept on the couch and got up at 6 AM to get ready for the interview at 8:30.
I requested an Uber at 7:40 because it was going to take 30 minutes to get to the hotel that I have to go to for the interview. Once I got there the whole seminar/interview process went on for about 8 hours with an hour for lunch plus however long it was until your personal interview. After that I headed back to the apartment (one of the girls was a local and offered to drive me) and got up the next morning at 4 AM and requested another Uber at about 4:30. I waited at the bus station for about an hour and a half, and then it was back home. I got home at around 2:30 – 3:00 that after noon.
So the seminar was the first part to the whole day. Melody, our interviewer, talked to us about living over in Japan and what life was going to be like over there. She went through the financial packet that we were supposed to look over and explained it a bit more in depth (mostly there were things that weren’t in the little packet that she said but it wasn’t much different). Then we went over how to dress when we were going to work and she even told us this story. At one of her schools the staff thought she was lazy, because the students were all working and she sat down to wait for one of them to ask for help. She said that she always stayed standing after that.
She told us about driving over in Japan and talked more about getting a driver’s license and an international driver’s permit. Then we went over manners and how we were supposed to act and dress outside of work. She gave us another story about an ALT who was having trouble getting a cell phone and he had kicked the counter at the store. Being the only foreigner (外国人：がいこくじん：gaikokujin) people in town noticed and there just happened to be two students who were also at that store, they would say that he was a violent teacher (先生：せんせい：sensei). She then emphasized that even out of school we were still teachers and we could not just act anyway, at least not in the town that we were living in.
The Grammar Test
The grammar test was fairly short, about 15 minutes.
First was a section on sentence structure and all you had to do was add a comma or capitalize a word. Then there was the spelling portion, you just have to look and see what words are spelled wrong and fix them. I think that I definitely messed up on that part because there was like one word that I had never seen, so I didn’t know if it was spelled correctly or not. The last part was a long paragraph that really just looked like one long run on sentence and you had to add punctuation. It was fairly simple and if you are good at grammar then it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to get.
The Demo Lesson
The demo lesson went pretty well if I must say so myself. I got up there and introduced myself in Japanese and English. I mentioned that I worked at a middle school currently. I had my degree in psychology with a minor in child welfare.
After that I went right into the second task which was reading the paragraph that I had printed out for myself. I think that I read just fine for that part.
Next I did the lesson for the third grade class and I ended up singing head, shoulders, knees and toes in Japanese (completely an original idea) and then going through it slower in English and then one more time in English a little faster. By this time I was a little shaky and nervous
I only had the last activity to do and I had chosen to use the directions activity that was shown to us in the packet. Right as I was about to finish Melody sort of signaled to me that it wasn’t long enough and I should keep going so what I did was I repeated myself once more and then I was like ok what else should I do (in my head) and at the last second I decided to go over the vocabulary one more time (a tip that I will give anyone if they say that your video is too short).
The Cultural Test
After the demo lesson was the cultural test. Melody explained that it was sort of a test to see how you would adapt to living in a different country. She also said that it was sort of like a replacement test for the personality test that they used to give, it was a sort of like a mix of a bunch of little questions to determine how you would do in a different environment. That also was 15 minutes and after we had finished that we went for lunch.
After lunch we had to wait until it was our turn to do the one on one interview. Melody basically went over a few things again and asked a few more personal questions. The she asked if I had any questions and asked me if I wanted to turn in my packet with all my legal documents in to her or if I wanted to wait and send them off at one time. I sent them off myself the following week.
This is just sort of a heads up. They will contact your references so make SURE that you put down people who know you and know how you work. They will also want people who can be reached quickly and are reliable enough to respond. Please let your references know that they will be in contact with them literally minutes after you have passed the phone interview. You have to have at least two references reply, I asked 3 just in case one didn’t reply and I was glad I did because I did only get two replies.
And The Result Is…
I GOT IN!!!! As of now I am waiting to hear from them in May with more information but I received my email just a few days ago. I will be keeping you guys up to date on how everything is going but for now I am saving up all the money I can. I even have an interview for a new job next week that will be full-time. I am looking forward to what lies ahead of me and I can’t wait to take you guys on the journey with me. Pretty soon I will be making the blog posts in Japan!!