Recently, I saw a school district job posting that included one essay question with its application packet. It was a very interesting question to me because it was so plain and simple; yet, one’s answer might be incredibly complex. Take a look:
Why do you believe that you are a good match for our district?
I’ve seen this question before in other places and I’m sure that there are a number of status quo answers that the hiring official is looking for. Some applicants might write about how good they are, how much they know, how much experience they have, or how they love the school district’s mission statement.
But, what if we just tell it like it is? What if we respectfully write something that doesn’t embellish, make promises, or rattle off reasons why we are a good match for something we don’t know much about?
Sure, honesty might not get you the job, black ball you from future opportunities, or come across as rude and obnoxious. But, what if, just what if, we were truly genuine and wrote a response, something like this?:
I do not know if I am a good match for your school district until I meet the hiring official, hiring committee, and school board. I might not be your cup of tea and we won't know this until we shake hands and introduce ourselves to one another, talk about the issues that your school would like to see reform in, and then go from there. I may be able to help your program flourish, but I also may not be the one for you regarding what you specifically need. What I do know is that I love kids, working with adult learners, and respect every person that I meet. I have learned an awful lot about leadership and have a deep humility because of my experiences and values. I mean no disrespect by writing this paragraph, but I just really cannot answer this question until we meet and chat with one another. Thank you so very much for your time and consideration. I hope we can meet to discuss this job opportunity.
With sincere kindness,
Better yet, if we want to add value to our hiring process, we have to think (and rethink) what we ask our candidates to do when applying for a position. That means, asking better questions, understanding how to hire the best staff member (yes, there are principles that really do work), and pushing the envelope a little bit more to canvas for incredibly honest responses and dispositions from our applicants.
While this response to the question might not be your style, what would your thoughts be if someone wrote this on your job application?
Would you persecute or salute that candidate?