Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Little Reassurance

Once upon a time, many, many years ago, I was asked to be a mystery guest on a radio talk show. My persona was "Mr. Know-It-All," which some may imagine was not much of a stretch for me. However, knowing my limitations, I decided to focus on familiar quotations. I also decided to cheat.

We started the program by reading and discussing some of my and the host's favorite quotations. Then we invited call-ins. The host would engage and stall the callers while I frantically searched for their quotations in the index of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations (a major reference work in the pre-Internet age). Then I could cite the author and the lines of the quote that might have escaped the caller's memory.

Unfortunately, the MFC will not permit candidates to bring a library with them for their interviews. And a library is certainly what one acquires during a seminary education.

My last post may have put the fear of God in those preparing for the MFC interview. Reading the competencies and sample questions, you might imagine that you'd have to have an encyclopedic memory and the talents of a mentalist to be successful.

However, you should know the following:

  • MFC questions are drawn from what's in your package. If you write that you have an extensive knowledge of Buddhism, then you are likely to be asked questions about Buddhism. These questions about Buddhism may seem quite obcure to someone who says that they have extensive knowledge of Islam (and vice versa).
  • "I don't know" is a perfectly acceptable answer. While it is probably not appropriate for every question, it's not a fatal response to one or two questions. It's usually useful to follow it with your strategy for acquiring the information.
  • The MFC appears to be more interested in how you answer questions that in what you answer. Trying to b.s. the Committee is believed to be the worst possible strategy.

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