Top interview tips for musicians
Read some essential tips from ICMP's Hub team on how musicians can ace a job interview...
Interviews for musicians can be daunting but preparation can help make sure your nerves won’t get the better of you.
Here are some tried and tested tips for interviews for musicians to help you perform as best as possible on the day:
Types of interview
Most interviews are conducted in-person at the company’s office and you will meet with one or a few interviewers to discuss your suitability for the role for as long as two hours. Some interviews will involve you delivering a prepared presentation or completing a small test and you will be told in advance about these if so.
Skype and phone interviews are increasingly being used to filter applicants. You should always prepare for these and conduct yourself as if you are interviewing in person.
TIP: Always dress formally for a Skype interview and find a quiet room where you won’t be interrupted with good internet.
Typical interview questions
These questions fit into one of two categories: they are either focused on your personal characteristics or on your competencies (ie. skills). All answers need to be relevant and show how you match the role you are applying for.
Tell me about yourself?
Interviewers don’t want your life story - they want a brief overview of you as an applicant. Use your personal profile to give a short introduction to your skills and experience."
Keep it to around two minutes - if they want more information, they will ask.
Why are you interested in the role?
This is where you can demonstrate that you have done your research and how you think your skills and experience could be valuable to the company and the challenges they might face in the future. Be enthusiastic!
Why should we hire you?
Clarify how you meet all of the requirements of the role using examples of when you’ve demonstrated the specific skills they are asking for.
What are your strengths/weaknesses?
Whatever you are best at, make sure you provide examples of when you have used your skills and match these to the job you’re applying for. When it comes to weaknesses, what employers are actually looking for is the action that you have taken when you have identified an area you need to develop in rather than what you’re not so good at - eg. you started in the role and realised you needed to develop your presentation skills so you proactively identified opportunities to lead presentations.
Describe a situation when...
Questions like these are called competency questions. You will be asked to talk about specific situations in which you have used the skills they are looking for - whether that be problem solving, working in a team, completing tasks to tight deadlines etc. It is best to remember a few key situations which are as similar as possible to the kinds of challenges you would face in the role.
The STAR technique is a helpful tool for remembering and structuring answers to these questions. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result.
Situation = the context of your story
Task = what was required from you in response to the situation
Action = what you actually did to deal with the situation
Result = the success and positive impact which came as a result of the action you took
Questions to ask the employer
Prepare questions for employers but don’t ask about salary at your first interview. Employers want to see your enthusiasm. Possible questions could be:
What do you enjoy most about your role/working at this company
What are the short-term goals for the successful applicant?
Remember that interviews are also a chance for you to get a feel of whether a company is right for you.
Make sure you don’t ask any questions about something that has already been explained in the interview. If you forget to ask any questions there and then, you can always include them in your follow up/thank you email.
INTERVIEW PREPARATION CHECKLIST
Before the interview
Practise your answers well enough so that you know the structure of your response. Answers should sound natural - remember that interviews are a conversation about how well you match the role and the interviewers are potentially future co-workers. They want to recruit someone they can work with so be friendly as well as professional!
Make sure you have researched where the interview is taking place and how to get there. You may want to make a practice journey before the day of the interview to familiarise yourself with the location and how to get there.
During the interview
Don’t talk too much - make sure your answers are structured and have a beginning, middle and an end. The STAR technique is a good way to focus your answers and make sure they are relevant."
Your body language at an interview is important. Research indicates most interviews are decided in the first few minutes so practice a strong professional handshake, smile and use confident body language.
Although many modern workplaces don’t require you to wear a full suit and tie to the office, you should always dress more formally for an interview - no jeans and no trainers.
After the interview
Always send an email the day after the interview to thank your interviewers for meeting with you. Typically, you will be told when to expect a reply about whether you have been successful at the interview but if not, clarify this in the thank you email. After this, don’t chase the company for a response until a week after that deadline has passed - waiting can be frustrating but constant emails and phone calls to an employer can be very annoying for them and show impatience (rather than passion).
If you aren’t successful, try to remain positive. Ask politely if there is any feedback you can get from the interview which can help you improve for next time and remember that the hiring process depends on more than just the interview itself - so a negative response doesn’t always mean you are bad at interviewing!
Remember: Whatever the outcome, every interview you do is great practice for future interviews!
Read Oli's previous blog article on how to get a job in the music industry.
Connect with The Hub
If you're an ICMP student or graduate then please keep in touch and let us know what you're up to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, don't forget that our careers and industry liaison team at The Hub continue to be available to you after graduation, providing advice and connections to help further your career.
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