After a job interview, feelings like anxiety and uncertainty as to how you did are usually experienced. Normally you don’t have to wait too long before finding out if you’ve got the job. However, in the case of the JET Programme interview results, the waiting period, along with those feelings of apprehension, hang around for a bit longer. Having to wait around two months for the results can be mentally tough, especially if getting onto the programme has been a long-term goal and you have planned your year around the possibility of moving to Japan.
I can still remember how I felt immediately after my interview back in 2013.
Once I came out of the interview I was asked by other applicants (and even the security guard) in the waiting room as to how I thought I did. My answer was 50/50. This became the standard answer to everyone who asked as I couldn’t say how I really felt: 30 (pass) / 70 (fail). I suppose I didn’t want to get my hopes up, and for the most part the interview seemed to go quite well. But on the other hand I felt that, at times during the interview, I had given nonsensical and irrelevant answers that I believed would deduct the much needed points required to get short-listed.
I found myself re-evaluating every answer I gave. Maybe I could have answered the hypothetical scenario questions better? Maybe the way I unintentionally repeated myself (because of nerves) while answering lost me points? Or perhaps I didn’t elaborate enough on specific answers? Was I able to get through to the interviewers how much I really wanted to become an ALT on the JET Programme?
All these questions and more plagued my thoughts for at least 2 weeks after the interview, and then just like that I was okay. I realised that there was absolutely nothing more I could do to convince JET that I really wanted to teach in Japan. I had done my best and it was now out of my hands. Also, I realised that every interview is different and applicants are asked questions based on their own experiences and what they wrote in their application form and essay – so trying to compare my interview experience to others was a waste of time. Having accepted that, I was able to continue on with life and didn’t think (too much) about JET for the rest of January and February.
However, it was a different story when March rolled around.
Post-Interview Waiting and Making Plans
From all the research I had done prior to my interview, I knew that the results would be released any time from mid-March through to early-April, approximately 4 to 6 weeks after the interview.
The beginning of March was okay, but by the second week I was starting to feel anxious again and kept a constant eye on the JET forums for any signs of result notifications. Once again my mind started doubting my performance at the interview. I had been putting it off, but I knew that sooner or later I had to face reality and accept the fact that I might not be chosen and needed to start thinking about a plan B if I was not short-listed.
In fact, I hadn’t even thought about what I would do if I wasn’t short-listed. What was my plan if I was rejected or made an alternate? These questions I had never even considered until March.
If I was rejected, then I would have continued with my part-time job and try to gain more skills and knowledge about teaching and speaking/understanding Japanese, and then reapply come September. The fact that I had made it to the interview stage meant that the area where I lost points was probably during the interview, so reviewing questions, researching other people’s questions online, and doing mock-interviews with friends would be part of the plan.
I knew that there were alternative ways to teach in Japan, such as going through a private company or applying through other programmes like Interac, but I had set my heart on JET and had known about it three years prior to applying – it would take a lot of convincing for me to choose another path.
If I became an alternate (put on the waiting list), I probably would have gone the same route as being rejected as I had not heard of many South Africans being upgraded from alternate status – it didn’t seem like a common occurrence. Of course I would hold out some hope of being upgraded, but I think being an alternate is quite trying as you have to wait even longer to receive word of a potential upgrade (which can come as late as January the following year).
I would have been quite upset and disappointed with myself and my interview performance if I had been rejected or made an alternate, but I knew that JET was the right direction for me to head in, so no matter what the result I wasn’t going to give up that easily.
And neither should you if you are currently waiting for your interview result. If getting onto the JET Programme is your future goal, then definitely don’t lose hope if you are rejected or made an alternate – make plans now as to how you would use the rest of the year to build up and improve your application form, essay and interview.
If you would like to know more about the interview results and the significance of ‘short-listed’, ‘alternate’, and ‘rejected’, then have a look at this article I wrote last year.
In the meantime just try not to think too much about the imminent results… well, at least until mid-March. Best of luck to you all!