They might not be ready for you.

A long time ago, I was eager to find a job teaching closer to where I was commuting from and was excited for a job that seemed to be tailor-made for my work at the time.  It was for an educational technology lead at a school (or something similar), and it was work I was already doing.

I was excited to have received an interview and eagerly prepared for the day. 

Then it came, and I will tell you, it went better than I could have expected. I could tell from the feedback that the administrative team was authentically impressed. I felt that this was going to happen!

Then they called me and said that although my interview was excellent and I was considered the best interview they had conducted, they were not offering me the job.

 

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Of course, I was confused and asked for feedback on how I wasn’t getting the job if they felt I was the strongest interviewee.

I will never forget what they said: “Honestly, your ability in this area is beyond what our staff is doing now, and you will probably scare them.”

This felt like an “It’s not you, it’s me” moment for education interviews, and I never understood it, and honestly, it bothered me tremendously.

As we all know, when one door closes, others open, and I eventually found myself in a principal role.

Fast forward to when we were considering taking on an initiative that I thought would be a fantastic opportunity for our staff and students. I loved it and took staff to visit a school that had already implemented what we were considering.

Although we thought it was really beneficial to that school, we had a long conversation on our way back to our own school and how, at this time, it wasn’t a good fit for where we were.

It wasn’t the program; it was us.

Now, things started making sense.

There are two reasons I wanted to share this.

 


 

1. For those of you who might not have received a job or opportunity that you really wanted, it might not have been because you weren’t the top candidate, but you might not have been the right fit.  

Does that feel good to hear? Probably not, because I felt the same disappointment.

Here’s the deal: if you weren’t the best candidate, the solution is to work harder.

If you were the best candidate, the solution is the same.

Don’t dim your light because someone else isn’t ready for you. Keep going. And whatever you do, don’t become something you are not that doesn’t align with your belief system. You might get the job or opportunity you want, but the cost to yourself will never be worth it.

 

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2. The second reason I wanted to share this is for those who hire. The best person isn’t always the best fit for your organization or culture. 

When I was hired by my favorite leader ever, Kelly Wilkins, they posted a job for a “middle school teacher.” That was it. They wanted to open the pool for the best fit for their school, not a specific role, as they knew that would limit the candidate pool.

In the interviews, they looked at what the person could bring to the school and what they needed. They could move things around if they felt the person was a great fit.

Think of it this way: getting the best possible people for your organization is way more challenging than switching people around who are already there (but only if it suits their strengths and passions!). 

Luckily, I was the “fit” they found for the school, and I cannot tell you how much I learned from that experience. It was also a much better opportunity than the one I had lost the previous year.

 


 

The best person for the job and the best person for the culture are not always the same. Whether you are applying or hiring, I hope you keep that in mind. We want to set up the person being hired for success, as well as the people who are already there.

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