How NOT to Interview

“Honorable Ancestors, please let Mulan impress the Matchmaker.” – -Grandmother

With the idea of introducing real-world skills to Spanish class, I introduced the story of Mulan. Dressed as the character of the Matchmaker, I covered the bare minimum basics of Mulan’s story. I used various images from the Disney movie to illustrate as I spoke in Spanish.

Hay una chica. Ella se llama Mulan. No hay muchas oportunidades por las chicas en el año 450. Entonces, Mulan tiene una entrevista muy, muy importante.

Here I asked students what opportunities they thought women might have had in 450 A.D. They were truly surprised that marriage was the “best” outcome and also that men had multiple wives with only the first wife wielding any sort of influence.

Now that the importance of Mulan’s interview with the Matchmaker had been underscored, I showed the cartoon clip from the Disney movie. Students who were unsure about my costume now “got” it, and there was a lot of giggling about the tea room shenanigans.

Afterwards, I asked the class “¿Qué problemas tenía Mulan?” The class was surprised; they thought we were going to talk about the mean character of the Matchmaker. I then discussed three things Mulan did wrong.

  1. She cheated, writing notes on her arm instead of studying.
  2. She didn’t know the rules of the interview, demonstrated by speaking out when her name was called.
  3. She was so nervous during the interview that she wasn’t paying attention, as when she poured the tea directly onto the table.

I wrapped this up by saying that failing the interview changed Mulan’s destiny. However, unless my students were looking at growing up to save all of China, they would do well to practice interview skills.

Student desks were already arranged in twos, with each student facing opposite the other. I handed out one question card to each pair and explained the rules. The questions were adapted from actual ones used by the company Google in their hiring practices, translated to Spanish for our purpose. Students also received a scorecard, to be completed by their interviewer.

We calibrated what constituted a complete answer versus a poor one, and at last I cut them loose.

Wow!

100% total engagement, and students were both nervous and excited to question each other. Students moved from station to station so they never interviewed or questioned the same person twice. As a teacher, my heart was so proud to see all of them take this fun assignment so seriously!

Especially with a face like this.

2 thoughts on “How NOT to Interview

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