Interview Tips - Advice from a Camp Director
Updated: Nov 22
When working in the summer camp industry you get to meet amazing people, people that are unique in their own way. I have been connecting with camp directors and hearing their insight about what they want in a staff member has been invaluable. I can’t wait to share this with you!
What are the basics you expect from an interview?
As a camp director, I expect all candidates to research the summer camp. If you are serious that this is where you want to spend your summer, definitely look at our website or socials as there is lots of information there to help guide you and maybe you have questions about what you have seen or read that you can ask later.
Don’t forget that this is an interview at the end of the day and first impressions matter. Make sure no matter if it’s in person or virtual put some care and attention into yourself. Have you brushed your hair, or changed out of your pyjamas? Does the background of your camera look like something you want a potential employer to see? All of these little details matter.
At the end of the interview when I ask “Do you have any questions for me?” and the candidate's first question is about days off. It puts a downer on the whole interview. I leave that interview thinking they are not coming to summer camp for this experience, they want more of a holiday. Top tip: save those questions until after you have been hired. Another thing to note is do not ask questions that can be easily found on the website, it makes you look unprepared and not interested.
When meeting a candidate for the first time, what makes them stand out?
Someone who is their authentic self will always stand out. Everyone when going into an interview fears not being good enough, but camp directors often hire purely on your authentic values rather than your skill set. Skills are something you can teach a person. What you stand for and what means most to a person can never be taught. We know that interviewing for a summer camp for the first time sounds risky to be yourself but trust us. Be yourself, be authentic, you will go a lot further than if you fake it or tell them what you think they want to hear.
Know and trust us going in that everyone has something to contribute to camp. Everyone doesn’t need to be the stereotypical loud, upbeat counsellor. There is a need for everyone to be seen and heard. If you are more of a quieter person, tell us why that would be a plus in a summer camp environment. Perhaps you could relate to a homesick camper easier, or you like the be organised so you could contribute to help plan schedules. This is what makes camp so special, you will find someone to who you can relate. Not everyone is cut from the same mould and this is something that is celebrated at camp, which makes summer camp a pretty unique workplace.
Another way that will make an individual stand out is their actual experiences. So the top tip from this camp director do not downplay your achievements or experiences. Be proud of what you have achieved, whether it was a project for school or not. Camp directors want to see how you talk about these experiences, they want to see your genuine reactions. How you talk about your experience will indicate if you enjoyed it or if you are giving not bothered vibes. All of this will make a difference in how the interview will go.
What is your favourite go-to as a camp director?
During an interview, my favourite question to ask all interviewees is; tell me about a time when…. It makes them do a little self-reflection and allows them to explain what they did, now with hindsight what should they have done etc. It allows me to see them problem-solve, reflect and see if I can see myself working with this person.
What is your best piece of advice for any interviewee?
Before the interview, write out your personal highlight reel, and jot down some notes about any adversities you have faced, any experiences you have had, and any skills you have. What happened during those experiences or how did you overcome those adversities? Have reviewed them earlier they will be at the forefront of your mind, so if a question like this arises you can answer more confidently and in more depth.
Any interviewee should reread your application again. When you first applied online could have been a long time ago until your first interview, so remind yourself of what you said. This application is what your interviewer will have in front of them. Therefore if you are asked a question about what you wrote on your application, you know what they are on about and you can answer more confidently.
COVID has made summer camps truly miss their international staff. Now more than ever camp directors and agencies are in demand for applicants. Make sure you stand out from the crowd and follow this amazing advice. You never know, this could give you the edge in your interview.