Do you ever feel like everyone else is getting the practicum, the internship or the job and you can’t seem to figure out why you’re struggling to land one yourself? You’ve had multiple people look over your applications and you don’t seem to have a problem getting interviews.
A lot of hospitals don’t have the time to give honest, straightforward feedback to everyone that they interview as that can be extremely time-consuming on their part. You may get a simple, “other applicants interviewed better.” Which leads you to wonder, “What exactly does ‘better’ look like?”
Authenticity and originality are two key components that you can bring to the table
If you feel that you need to put on a show or be someone that you’re really not, you’re setting yourself up for failure in the long run. While you may be impressive during the interview, if you can’t keep up the act or begin to show your true colors (while they may be totally fine and acceptable colors), the hospital specifically chose you because of what you brought to the table during your interview. Perhaps you had a personality that gelled just right with their team or you had the experience or knowledge that they were hoping for as a starting point for their student or new hire. Regardless, they’re expecting you to be that throughout your practicum, internship, or job.
Get to know your stages so well (especially for Erikson and Piaget) that it comes out as easily as your ABCs
If you’re not feeling as confident about your theories or theorists – make it a priority. It’s easy to want to put notes around your computer for Skype or Zoom interviews as quick “reminders” to yourself, but during an interview, it’s easy to get nervous. Sometimes you’ll end up reading everything you wrote word-for-word. An interviewer can immediately tell when you’ve turned your attention to a post-it note on your screen. Same goes for phone interviews; we can hear your papers rustling or your computer keys typing frantically.
Integrate those theories throughout your answers
Especially for practicums and internships – someone who can clearly and confidently integrate developmental theories and theorists throughout their answers (even when it’s not a theory-specific question) are leaps and bounds ahead of other applicants. This lets us know that you are eating, sleeping and breathing child life throughout your interactions with children.
“I knew it was important for this child to have opportunities for independence due to being in Erikson’s second stage of psychosocial development: Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt.”
It’s as simple as that. Let us know that YOU know what you’re talking about. This is easy to begin doing during your volunteer efforts. Keep a journal and after each shift, go home and journal about your patient interactions: 8-month-old, Piaget’s sensorimotor stage; because of this I brought him toys that light up, make noise and rattle as well as a mat so that the baby can explore on the ground as he’s learning the most through his surroundings.
Highlight your big moments with patients
Giving a patient’s family member a break while you play with the patient is not a “big” or “significant” moment in your volunteering. This is something that we expect for all of our volunteers. What have you done for a patient that is above and beyond? If this makes you scratch your head and shrug your shoulders, make that happen. During your next volunteer shift, make an effort to find a need for a patient or family. Is it someone’s birthday? Is it an upcoming holiday? Does a patient feel like they’re missing out on something that you can makeshift or duplicate for them here? Is there a patient that you repeatedly have interactions with due to their lengthy hospital stay that you can engage in a lengthy craft or project over the next month?
Have questions prepared for each hospital that you’re applying to
Never answer the question, “Do you have any questions for us?” With “no.” Biggest rookie mistake you can make. Just as much as we want to be excited about you, we want you to be excited about us! You have direct access during this interview to know anything and everything about the hospital, child life team, practicum or internship. Ask away! Respectfully keep your questions below five.
You are not alone!
Listen: loss of appetite, clammy hands, blotchy neck and chest, stuttering, and the inability to properly collect and state your thoughts are all common symptoms you may experience prior to and during an interview. You are not alone! However, there may be several students who are also interviewing with the same hospital who have already figured out the key to interviewing making your shortcomings even more noticeable. Take the time to practice these skills and you’ll be in tip-top shape for your interview!