Yesterday I went on my very first job interview in Korea. I must say that I vastly prefer the process over here. It felt a lot more like I was interviewing the school than the other way around.
Taking a step back, I previously wrote about my plans to continue living in Korea next year. I wanted to move to Bucheon or Anyang (satellite cities of Seoul not far from my current location), live with or near Lacy, and begin my contract in April so I'd have time to travel.
Joyce at Korvia Consulting did another phenomenal job finding me a placement meeting all of my conditions (which was not an easy task).
I received word that an elementary school in Anyang wanted to have an interview with me and replied that I could meet with them any day after school or on Saturday. The school decided that they wanted me to come earlier on a week day and informed Korvia that they would call my principal to request that I leave school early on the day of the interview. This was a little awkward for me, as I had turned down an offer to work a second year at my school, but apparently not a big deal in Korea. Imagine that... leaving work early to interview for another job - and not lying about it.
I arrived at Anyang Station and was greeted by a tiny woman in her thirties. Grace Park approached me with a large smile on her lovely face and led me on the very short walk to the school ( First + school is near the subway). After entering and slipping into our indoor shoes we went to meet the principal. Apparently Grace knows the former principal at my school and we both agreed he is the nicest man. She assured me that the principal at this school was very similar and she was right. The principal's character and sense of humor were immediately evident despite the fact that he didn't speak any English (Second + principal and coteacher are both wonderful).
We chatted about life in Korea over coffee and they expressed some concern over the fact that I would be leaving the country between contracts. They told me if they hired me and I did not return to Korea for some reason, their students would suffer for it. To be honest I hadn't even thought of this and all I could offer was my word, but when I assured them of my intent to return they immediately told me that they liked and trusted me ( Third + the school is willing to give me the benefit of the doubt and is relaxed).
There is an element of pageantry in the school interview process and I got the feeling that all they had really wanted was to get a look at me. They had my resume and recommendations already, but looks are very important in Korea, particularly when it comes to English Programs. Once I got the impression that I had passed this test (oh yes, they will tell you right to your face first thing) I pretty much knew it was in the bag.
Grace showed me the English classrooms, which were smaller than the one cavernous room I occupy now. She had seen my school and seemed very worried that I would be unhappy with the classrooms. They seemed lovely to me. Not only were they brimming with artwork and English storybooks, they wouldn't supply students with enough room to run around and hit each other like they do in my present classroom. I told her I thought the school was wonderful and would love to work with her and she told me that she and the principal liked me very much and she was sure they would hire me.
Then she walked me back to the station, took my hand and suggested we get dinner together over the winter break. I told her I would love to and she hugged me goodbye. Really, it was more of a love story than an interview. Ahhh Korea.
Today I accepted their job offer and will be signing a contract shortly. My start date is April 14th which gives me 5-6 weeks to travel Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos before beginning fresh in my new year in Seoul.