You made your application materials stand out. You received a phone call and scheduled an interview. You’ve worried about what to wear. You’ve arrived 10 minutes early and are being ushered into an office. Now what?
If I could give only one piece of advice to keep in mind during your interview, it’s this: Don’t be yourself. Be your best self.
Here’s what I mean: This isn’t the time to simply be yourself if your normal self runs late or doesn’t iron your clothing or mumbles. This is the time to be your best self- someone who is 10 minutes early, is dressed sharply, and is ready to speak clearly about yourself.
Fortunately, I’m not restricted to one piece of advice. So let me share a few other things to assist you in rocking your Wolf Trap intern interview.
It’s ok to be nervous. I don’t expect you to be an expert interviewee at this stage in your career. I am not going to make this process more difficult than it needs to be for either of us. Think of this as a guided conversation.
I am going to ask you the following questions, and there are no right or wrong answers. How did you learn about this internship? Tell me about your education, your classes, your extracurricular activities, your previous work or intern experience. Why do you want to work in this department? What are your strengths?
We are a performing arts organization, so these topics will be covered as well. Again, there are no wrong answers. What areas of the performing arts interest you the most? What was the last performance you saw? What are you listening to now?
Here’s where we get to the tricky questions. The ones where there is a right or wrong answer. Don’t worry. I’ll help you with some answers.
What is your major weakness?
What you want to say: “I’m a perfectionist.” “I don’t know how to say ‘No.’”
What you should say instead: “Spelling is my weakness. I’m incredibly thankful for spell check and I have my roommate proofread my papers.” “I forget names quickly, so I repeat them in conversation.”
You’re hoping to demonstrate that you’ll do anything and everything needed to get the job done. The truth is I need someone who can say no, and I’m not interested in a candidate who may waste time being a perfectionist. Be honest, share a weakness, and then tell me how you are making strides to improve it.
Have you looked at the Wolf Trap season yet?
What you want to say: the truth. “No, I haven’t had the chance to go online yet as I’ve been working hard to maintain my GPA and secure an internship for the summer.”
What you should say: the truth. “Yes, and I’m really excited about Riverdance and Steve Miller Band.”
I expect that you will have spent some time on the Wolf Trap website before you arrive for your interview. By this point, we will have announced more than half our season. You don’t need to memorize dates and times, but you should be familiar with our season. You should visit the website for any information about all of the departments to which you are applying. This demonstrates your interest in the organization.
What do you want to be doing in 5 years?
What you want to say: “I have no idea.” “I want to go to law school.” “I want to be the Artistic Director of a company that specializes in interpreting SpongeBob episodes through theater.”
What you should say: “I’m not exactly sure, but I know I want to explore a career in arts administration.”
As I’m looking for the person who is going to get the most out of working with me this summer, it’s the person who genuinely wants to be explore a career in arts administration. I know you might need an internship to graduate, and I know working at Wolf Trap seems like fun. However I can’t teach you how to be a lawyer; I can’t teach you how to be an Artistic Director at a theater company. But if you want to know how to run the operations of a programming department or work backstage in concert production, I am here for you.
Do you have any questions?
What you want to say: “I don’t think so. This interview has been very informative.”
What you should say: “Yes! Yes!”
Even if we have spent an entire hour in our interview, there is no way I could have covered the depth and breadth of the intern program. Again, this opportunity demonstrates your level of interest in this organization. So, what do you want to know? “What’s a day in the life of an intern like? When will you make a selection decision? What are you most looking for in a candidate? What do you like best about working at Wolf Trap?” There are no stupid questions, and you can’t possibly know everything, so this is your chance to ask!
From my side of the desk, there are two important things that happen during this interview. One, I determine whether you can fulfill the high expectations I have for an intern. Two, I decide whether we will get along working side by side during the intense summer period.
So, don’t be afraid to have a sense of humor. It’s ok to smile or laugh. In fact, in this department, it’s a requirement! Ask questions. Brag a little. Show me your passion. Be your best self.
Finally, send a thank you note, and keep your fingers crossed!
Reminder: The application deadline for the Wolf Trap Internship Program is March 1. Apply now!