Thursday, October 30, 2014

That One Time CES Didn't Hire Us Because I was "Different"

This is also a cross-post over at Modern Mormon Men, a great group blog

Once upon a time I was a newlywed - a newlywed with a husband trying to be a Seminary teacher.  Back in the Ricks College days that had an East Idaho Pre-Seminary (OPT) training program.  So I took Rel 370, Intro to Teaching, in Fall 2001 along with my husband.  I forget all the details back in the day, but we progressed through the program to where he was teaching seminary part time at Madison, Sugar City, and Mud Lake High Schools.  We were in our final semester where you are up for hire and it's pretty intense and down to the wire.  I remember this last semester there are a few things they do to screen applicants:
  1. Lots of in class evaluations by OPT area supervisor
  2. Spouse survey
  3. Meeting with CES hierarchy, if you pass middle mgt interview I think there may have been a GA interview at the end right before hire
We had a few things going against us
  1. The OPT area supervisor didn't like my husband.  My husband didn't like him.  They both thought that the other had a too high opinion of themselves and constantly tried to take each other down a notch.  In retrospect it was entertaining.  
  2. I don't like being manipulated and I have a strong personality.  
The CES middle manager came to interview us as a couple and leave the survey for me to take.  I remember him liking us and being friendly.  I remember sitting down to read and fill out the spouse survey.  It was a few pages long, multiple choice, and it was a joke.  It was filled with loaded questions, in which it was obvious there was only one right answer that you could choose.  And, really, I was offended.  What kind of automaton did they think I was?  I had a brain and could use it.  There was so little complexity it was laughable.  I remember overthinking it wondering if it's a test - would the wife just fill in the correct blanks and follow with no questions?  Or Did they want to see an exercise of originality and someone who was comfortable being a little different?  It was so obvious which answer they wanted, is this reverse psychology somehow?  Welp, I refused to auto-fill the answers and probably snarkily made sure mine was honest but offbeat.

A few weeks later we got a phone call from the CES middle manager about some concerns he had that he'd like to talk to us in person about.  I remember sitting in our front room at Aspen (Ghetto) Village as he delivered the  news: we passed all the middle manager screenings except the spouse survey.  They were enough anomolies there to be extremely concerning that I wouldn't be a good fit in CES.  He said if Darik passed the rest of the hiring process they would relook at me again, but for us to know this was enough of a red flag to put his hire in jeopardy.

You would have had to know me back then, I would have been a founding member of Mormon Women Stand.  No questions, no rule breaking, no R rated movies.  Straight shooters we were - straighter than most (like 99%).  We were a bit baffled.

In the end it didn't matter as much since the area OPT trainer basically told my husband to hit the road and drop out before the end because there was no way in heck he'd ever hire him.  Darik always wondered if he was good enough or if it was just a personal problem with the hiring overlord.  When he taught seminary in Las Vegas he was disappointed to have the CES area guy observe and tell him he couldn't fathom why CES passed on him, as he was one of the best he'd observed.

And in the end?  I'm glad.  It reminds me of something my friend told me when I was applying for a job on campus at BYUI and I tried to cover my social media tracks:

"If someplace doesn't want you for who you are, and what your strengths and what you can bring to their organization - it's their loss.  Don't change who you are for people who don't want you there in the first place."

Wise words, and good riddance. :)


  1. I would desperately love to see that survey and the answers they found questionable! It's been a humorless week and I could use a good chuckle.

    My daughter "likes" your Facebook page, however, so I have not failed entirely. ;)

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