Interview Tips for Finding a Museum Job
So now what?
Going on a job interview can be a scary thing. Here are some things to remember as you prepare for that museum job interview.
1. Bring a portfolio of your work. Include anything relevant you’ve done in coursework and internship/volunteer experience. When I went on my first job interview, I included a material culture paper that I had gotten an A on, as well as a journal article I had written at an internship. I included pictures of exhibitions I had helped with in graduate school and at various internships.
2. Do NOT bad mouth a previous employer. If you are looking for a second or third museum job, resist the urge to tell the interviewer why you hate your current boss or how badly run your previous museum was. Instead, focus on phrases like, “I am looking for a new challenge,” or “I am looking to relocate to your area” when asked why you are leaving your job. Trust me. I have blown a few interviews because I didn’t know when to shut up.
3. Research the museum ahead of time. Find out about their past, current, and future exhibit plans. Learn about their collection (both size and scope), annual visitation, school programs, and the size of the staff. Prepare some questions ahead of time, such as:
How does this position interact with other staff members?
What is the budget for this department?
How does the museum market itself to attract new visitors and school field trips?
4. Dress appropriately. You should present yourself as a professional, but add something unique that shows off your personal style. For men, distinguish yourself with an interesting tie or lapel pin. Women can wear a brightly colored scarf, a nice brooch, or some jewelry that stands out. Know about the kind of place you are interviewing. A trendy art gallery will tolerate more “out of the box” attire than, say, a more traditional historical society or house museum.
5. Save the salary discussion for after you’re offered the job. That’s just my opinion, but it is really up to you whether you talk salary in an interview or not. If you simply must know what the salary range is for the position, go ahead and ask at the interview. But be careful that you don’t sound too eager to hear about money. A nice segue might be to ask about benefits included with the job, such as health care and retirement plans.
6. Always follow up with a thank you note. Keep it short and sweet. Thank the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you. Tell him/her that you look forward to speaking with them again about the position. View the thank you note as one last chance to keep your name on the top of the list!
Check out this book for a great overview of the museum field:
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Content copyright © 2019 by Kim Kenney. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Kim Kenney. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Kim Kenney for details.