In preparation for last week’s job interview, I read articles about the social benefits of writing residencies in prisons, re-read my application and re-read the brief they sent me. There was a wealth of information on the Writers In Prisons Network website and the interview pack they sent me contained sample questions as well as a detailed run-down of how the day would go. On the morning of the interview, I had a friend mock-interview me.
Unfortunately I did not get the job.
I did get feedback though, which is better than nothing. They emphasised that I had done very well to get as far as I did (final shortlist of six candidates). However, while my written application covered all elements of the brief, in the interview I ‘undersold’ myself and failed to give a comprehensive overview of my plans for the residency.
The main thing I’ve taken away from the feedback is that the written application secures the interview, but it is the interview itself which secures the job; don’t be shy about repeating information from your written application and modesty will get you nowhere. Also, actively bring up topics rather than waiting for them to be covered.
In retrospect I prepared correctly for the general questions, but not in enough depth for the specific ones. In the future I’ll write myself a paragraph about each element of the job descriptions and memorise them to the best of my abilities. I’ll also take up various offers for practise interviews from more experienced friends and colleagues, rather than relying on a ‘I’m sure I’ll be fine on the day’ approach.
Now it’s back to the drawing (writing) board and trying to keep my motivation and morale up considering the whole recession thing.