So you have an interview, now what?
Welcome back, readers, to the next episode of ‘when life gets changed for the better’. In our first instalment your friendly newly qualified instructor and author had decided to give up his normal life as a teacher to teach diving full time. In the last instalment we talked about putting our cover letter and CV together and how to get in touch with the dive industry.
Well gosh, golly and darn wouldn’t you just know that with a good CV and cover letter even an inexperienced instructor like me can get dive shops interested. I have actually had two interviews (and job offers) in only a few weeks of looking. Now, getting to the critical “yeah, I’ll give you five minutes to impress me” is probably the hardest thing.
We have to make sure we don’t throw it all away by being a wet blanket on the day. Here’s my advice:
Be confident or “I’m way too good at this to possibly let you down!”
Make sure you know what the heck you’re talking about and aren’t going to be caught out by simple questions. Answering I don’t know is totally OK unless the question is something like “so, what makes you special?”
Definitely think about the sorts of things you’re going to be asked, and prepare a really good answer ahead of time. If they don’t ask you, bring it up at the end of the interview.
I don’t want you to have sleepless nights days later, wishing you’d answered that differently. I want you to have sleepless nights before the interview making sure that doesn’t darn well happen! It all about Doing it right.
Oh, and rehearse until you can do it in your sleep. Sounding nervous makes you seem uncertain.
Do your research
Or “What else can I do for you besides teach/guide like every other applicant?”
Read everything you can about the shop that’s considering you. Read their website, check out customer reviews and visit the shop if you can and get to know people. I try and find at least a few things I can sincerely compliment them on doing well, and a few things that they might need help with.
“I see on the internet that some customers have mentioned this thing as a negative, I just happen to have a few ideas about how to turn that around, and can help you to spread the word about it”.
What? You seem like you know my business and actually might be able to help me improve it? No way!
Find out about the place
Or “yes, I really do want to live in the middle of nowhere/big city/5* resort hotel”
I was actually surprised that both of the businesses who ultimately wanted me were pretty worried that I wouldn’t want to live there.
What, leave drizzly England with its traffic congestion and rush-about lifestyle to live on a tropical island? I didn’t realise that’s what I was doing!
It would have been especially helpful if I had been to either place before, but I was at least able to show I knew a bit about what I was going in for having read the travel guide to wherever it is.
Or “I’m super-fantastically-amazingly-awesomely excited to teach/guide for you and this would be just incredibly-massively-mega-great!!! :D”
When I was researching what dive shops are actually looking for in a dive instructor the thing that kept coming up was enthusiasm. It turns out that schools have instructors there who can help you work on your dive skills, customer service, sales, local knowledge and suntan.
What they can’t do is make you have a great attitude toward your job, the customers and your team.
Have you ever worked with someone who gripes and moans all day about having to shift tanks, or get up early, clean gear or do paperwork? Well they don’t want to either. Just don’t overdo it.
I was told by both potential employers that it was obvious enthusiasm that ultimately got me the job offer over a number of other, much more qualified applicants.
You need to ask them
The last thing I want to talk about is the questions I asked them. Now you’ll have to come up with some of your own relevant to your situation, but you’re quite welcome to use mine.
The idea is that you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you, and if you ask questions they might just go from buyer (what can you do for me) to seller (how can I convince you to want this).
In the past I have actually convinced an employer or two they wanted me, and then made them sell themselves to me to the point where I actually closed them “allright, I’ll take it” and got the job!
If you are lucky like me to have more than one offer on the table this can really make the difference for you, if not at least it might stop you from making a decision that turns out to be totally not what you thought or wanted.
Here’s what I asked:
What is the expected working hours/days? Does this change in high season? When is high season?
If you have never been working in the diving industry you could benefit from reading: Behind the Diving Industry.
How long is the period of employment? Would you expect to renew my work visa at the end of this term if you are satisfied with my performance?
How busy is your dive shop. How many students in a class/guided trip can I expect? How many certifications do most instructors get each month in shoulder season? How many staff do you have? How many people stay on for more than one season?
Tell me about your customers (backpackers, families, resort guests, tech divers?) what sort of classes/trips are most in demand. What sort of mix of Discover scuba, open water courses, and further classes should I expect?
How much will you pay me? Is there commission on sales? How does this relate to cost of living in the area?
What can you do to help me develop professionally (shop management experience, trip planning, specialty courses, train me to next certification level)?
Any other perks?
Is there ever any free beer/water/food/accommodation? Do you do any staff dive trips, teambuilding activities, or offer any other activities through your business that I can take part in for free/cheap (jungle tours, jet ski rental etc..)?
I hope that this will in some way help a few of you prepare for your big day. I can’t have thought of everything so, as always, I would like to invite our readers to contribute other questions, comments, tips and tricks.