Inside Information: What Might You Be Asked in an Interview?

November 14, 2011

Interviews are way to showcase your personality and skills. Before any interview, it’s important to take some time to think about yourself and how you handle responsibilities (both on and off the job). Prepare yourself to answer questions in a clear, concise, and confident way.

Here’s an insider’s look at what camp directors consider when they are preparing for your interview: what questions they might ask, and what they are looking for in your responses.

Answering Unexpected Questions

In Stephen Maguire’s November/December 2010 Camping Magazine article, “Recruiting, Interviewing, and Hiring to Ensure the Best of the Best,” he offers these two “must-ask,” non-typical questions. It's important to have a good idea of who you are, what you like, and what you know in order to answer unexpected questions.

How would you respond to the following?

  1. Always start with this question: "So, what do you think of kids?" I know it seems super simple, but you can begin to eliminate people immediately with this one simple question. If they don't come up with answers like: "Kids are awesome. They do something different every day. I love being a role model for them. They're funny," and so on, you know you have your answer. I have legitimately interviewed candidates and gotten responses to this question like: "They're OK," or, "I hadn't really thought about it before." Really? You hadn't really thought about it? You want to work with kids and spend eight weeks in the woods with them and you "haven't really thought about it"? Simple question; big results.
  2. Always finish with this question: "If you could build a house out of totally edible products, what you build it out of and why?" Great question. What are you asking this for? I've found it to be a great test of creativity and reflective thought. I've also found it to be a great test of flexibility. I've had some candidates who can't come up with an answer. They are simply stumped. And one time I had a gentleman who I hired on the spot, when in less than five seconds he blurted out, "Bamboo." I'm thinking to myself: "Bamboo? What the heck?" So I asked: "Why Bamboo?" His response: "It's an edible product, although not very tasty to humans, and it's incredibly strong." He was interviewing for my camp wilderness adventure leader position. Hired!

Think about Past Experiences

Bob Ditter shares his expert advice on interviewing in the September/October 2011 article, “Truth and Consequences: Interviewing Skills for Camp Professionals.” Ditter explains that “the best predictor of future performance is past performance.”

With that in mind, think about your responses to the following:

  1. Tell me about a time when you put the needs of another or others ahead of your own. Probing Questions: What was the situation? What was the relationship between you and the person/people? How did you handle the situation? What did you learn? How did it go?
  2. Tell me about a time when you took a stand for (or stood up for) something you believed in, but that was an unpopular position. Probing Questions: What was the stand you took? What was the principle or who was the person you stood up for? What did you do and say? What resistance or negative feedback did you encounter and how did you handle it? What was the outcome? Looking back on it, what is your thought about what you did or didn't do? What did you learn about yourself from this situation?
  3. Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a friend or an employer or an authority of some kind (teacher, parent, coach). Probing Questions: What was the conflict? Who was involved? What did you do? What was the outcome? What did you learn from the situation?
  4. Tell me about a project in school or something you've had to do around the house / some job you've had / volunteer position where it took much more effort than you originally thought it would. Probing Questions: What was the situation? How did you deal with it? What things did you actually do or say that helped you through? What was the outcome?

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