a job interview versus a martial arts grading

This is something I’ve been pondering for a while now, and it’s something that first came to my mind about a year ago, when I was preparing for a promotion interview.  I’ve only had a few interviews in the course of my career, but I’ve also had 8 aikido gradings as well, and I was struck by an interesting difference between the two sorts of events.

An interview is a bottleneck situation.  Several people are competing for a single job.  The panel that is interviewing takes the documentary evidence of curriculum vitae, perhaps with other statements depending on the job, perhaps with a presentation, and after talking to each of the candidates, makes a decision.

An aikido grading is a very different sort of situation.  In an aikido grading, it is possible that everyone who is grading passes, and it is possible that everyone who is grading fails the grading.  Most times, it falls somewhere in between.  In a grading situation, people have spent significant time and effort in their preparation, and again the grading panel makes their decision.

The significant difference between the two is the purpose.  An interview is to choose one from many and often, many or all of the candidates will be suitable for the job.  A grading on the other hand is to judge individuals against a set of criteria, not against one another. Even so, I suspect there are conditions in which one candidate in a grading performs so well (or so poorly) as to shade the performance of the others.

The reason that all of this came to mind is that while I was preparing for my promotion interview, I came to the realization that this promotion interview was a grading, rather than an interview as described above.  There were a number of us who were going through the promotion interview process, but there was no limit on how many could be promoted.  Rather, like a grading, we were individually and independently being judged against a set of criteria.

And this then led me to something else.  Why put myself through the grading process, either the promotion interview process or the aikido grading process.   After all, the process of preparation for these gradings is somewhat stressful.

It may be different for others, but for me, there was one common reason that linked the promotion interview and the aikido gradings.  For me, it is helpful to know, it is helpful to have the feedback, that in the eyes of my senior and more experienced colleagues, both at the University and in aikido, I am doing what is expected.  And as I become one of those more experienced colleagues to others, I will bear this distinction in mind.


~ by Jim Anderson on 30 March 2016.

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