What I Look for in a Job Candidate

Posted by Mara Walker On November - 18 - 2011
Mara Walker

Mara Walker

We all know finding a job is no easy task these days. To help, we just completed the second in a series of webinars about how to get a job in the arts today.

It featured four brilliant colleagues and myself:  Tara Aesquivel from Emerging Arts Leaders/Los Angeles; Stephanie Evans Hanson from Americans for the Arts; Marialaura Leslie from the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts; and Jennifer Cover Payne from the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington.

Last week’s webinar focused on the interview process from the perspectives of both the interviewer and the interviewee, and included a lot of valuable tips. Our previous webinar talked about getting noticed through a cover letter and resume that clearly explain why you are the right person for the job.

I have the privilege of interviewing all of our finalists for positions at Americans for the Arts and regardless of the level of the position or whether the job is operational or programmatic in nature, here’s what I look for in an interview:

1) Personality: Come into the interview relaxed, interested, and prepared. Be genuinely enthusiastic about the organization and the job and let it show. The interviewer wants to know that you are a good fit and if you seem uncomfortable or disengaged during the meeting, then they will assume that’s the real you.

2) Experience: Be ready to demonstrate and discuss the work you have done that makes you right for this job at this time. Your experience can be as a professional, intern, or volunteer and can be arts and non-arts driven, but it should clearly show why you have what it takes to be the best candidate for the job.

3) Knowledge: Make sure you have done your research and have practiced your role playing so that you are ready to demonstrate your knowledge of the organization and the tasks needed to accomplish the job you are applying for. Be sure to visit the organization’s website and be prepared to ask questions about the work and culture of the company.

Tara and Marialaura did a great job of talking about what an interviewee should look for in an interview.

They both noted that it is important to know and talk about what you are looking for in an organization as well. Consider such as important aspects of the organization as shared values and priorities, corporate culture, technology, physical surroundings, and professional opportunities. I said they were brilliant.

Many arts organizations across the country are actively hiring so do your research and don’t give up. After you have done your homework, participated in the interview to the best of your ability, and written that thank you note feel confident that the right job will come. It takes time, patience, and confidence.

Good luck, we are all cheering for you!

(Note: If you are a professional member of Americans for the Arts, click here to access a free archive of this webinar.)

One Response to “What I Look for in a Job Candidate”

  1. Great summary of the webinar! Solid advice for those currently searching and a nice refresher for those not actively looking right now.

Leave a Reply

ARTSblog holds week-long Blog Salons, a series of posts by guest bloggers, that focus on an overarching theme within a core area of Americans for the Arts' work. Here are links to the most recent Salons:

Arts Education

Early Arts Education

Common Core Standards

Quality, Engagement & Partnerships

Emerging Leaders

Taking Communities to the Next Level

New Methods & Models

Public Art

Best Practices

Evaluation

Arts Marketing

Audience Engagement

Winning Audiences

Powered by Community

Animating Democracy

Arts & the Military

Scaling Up Programs & Projects

Social Impact & Evaluation

Humor & Social Change

Private Sector Initatives

Arts & Business Partnerships

Business Models in the Arts

Local Arts Agencies

Cultural Districts

Economic Development

Trends, Collaborations & Audiences

Art in Rural Communities

Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.