International College Program Series: Interviews

I’m going to cover some tips for your interview if you’re applying for the Disney International Program, or College Program. My experience was with a personal interview for the program.

As I understand it, for the domestic College Program you sign up online and then there’s a phone interview afterwards. For the most part, with the international program, the recruiters travel to a city, do a presentation and then interview the applicants after. My interview was in Dunedin, New Zealand.

For that year, because of the Christchurch earthquake, there was no presentation at Canterbury Uni, so everyone from Christchurch traveled to Dunedin for their interview, making it more packed than usual.

Jeni Masden is the recruiter for Australia/New Zealand. She started by presenting about the program and talking about what you do, what your pay rate is and the types of roles you may get.

She does emphasise that this is not a job you save in. I cannot stress that enough. I will get paid around USD$6,000 this year, which is technically below the poverty line. However, your housing has fairly decent rent, and if you use the CP busses, your transport to work, Walmart and the Mall is free.

So keep that in mind and don’t be like many people who spend a whole lot of money sorting visas and everything to get here and then leave, disgusted with the “pittance” we’re paid. The most expensive two-week holiday ever.

My interview was the next day at 10.00am at Otago University. Because I went to a tourism college, we all wore our uniform suits to the presentation (we all looked like either flight attendants or travel agents) and then again to the interview the next day. I’m not sure if they normally do the interviews the same day or not, so it’s probably best you dress up for both just in case.

For the interview I wore a flower in my hair. Nothing over the top, but noticeable. I wanted my interviewer to be able to look at my resume after I left and remember something about me, because they had a lot of people to see.

It’s handy if you have an “about me” spiel ready to go. I have one for every job interview I go to, because the first question nine times out of ten is “so, [INSERT NAME HERE], tell me about yourself.” They’re not actually interested. They just want to see how you’ll respond “off the cuff”. So have a practiced speech around 20 seconds about you. It can be where you grew up, what you studied and what your hobbies are, which gives them your personal and educational or professional background and then a little insight as to who you are. For example, mine is something like…

I was born in Sydney, Australia and my family moved to Queenstown, New Zealand when I was sixteen. I studied Japanese at Otago University and Tourism at Sir George Seymour College. I enjoy travel, writing and art and discovering new things.

So have a practice at home. Get friends to ask you at random times “tell me about yourself” until you can remember a few points without it sounding like a recording. For the application form, I ticked every box available for jobs. I really didn’t care what role I did for a year; I just wanted to go.

If you’re enthusiastic about one role in particular, tell them! My recruiter seemed keen on me doing lifeguarding. Which, let me tell you, you do not want your child’s life in my hands. Ever. But I told him that it would be a new challenge for me and I loved challenges. As it turns out, I got Merch and Vacation Planning, which was great.

Just be yourself at the interview. This is probably one of the only interviews where you can’t be too bubbly, so if that’s you, don’t tone it down! Disney is all about the pixie dust and magic for everyone, so the more pixie dust you throw around, the more fun you’ll have!

Take a copy of your CV. They probably already have one that you gave them yesterday, but it’s always good to have a backup.

After the interview, you’ll have to wait a while to get a reply. I remember mine being at least a month before I heard anything. I’m not sure if they contact you to say you didn’t get in or not, but pretty much everyone gets their emails at the same time.

Once you get that acceptance email, start your paperwork! And remember to reply to their email accepting their offer! Your journey has started!

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