If you've made it this far in the Disney College Program application process, congratulations! Now comes the real challenge though: your Phone Interview. Of course, it's always important to note that the DCP lingo refers to this portion of the process as a PI, so don't get freaked out thinking that Disney is about to send a Private Investigator to shadow you for a few weeks. It's just a phone interview, and it's not unlike a phone interview for any other position with any other company.
Only it's Disney and you really, really, really want this job.
Once you've finished your Web Based Interview, you'll be directed to a system to schedule your PI if you passed. You're able to schedule your interview for any day during the next few weeks after your WBI, and the ability to choose when you'll receive that phone call is a blessing. Some schedule their interview for the next day and it goes fine, I scheduled mine for almost a full two weeks after I completed my WBI since I was running a major on-campus event the week in between my two interviews and wanted to give my full focus to the event while still allowing for time to prepare for my PI. Really, it's up to you, but I suggest allowing yourself at least three days to prepare for your interview.
I'll give you pretty much the same advice you can find elsewhere, largely because it's the same advice I'd give anyone going into any kind of interview, whether it's a phone interview or for Disney or not, and it's a system of three P's: Prepare, Practice, Present. Stick with me though, because this is about to be a long post.
Prepare is pretty obvious, especially since I mentioned a few weeks ago that your research isn't over. A quick Google search will enlighten you to what kinds of questions your recruiter might ask you during your interview. I made a list of every question I could find, put them in a word document, and answered them all. That way I had at least thought through pretty much every possible question they could ask me, although I narrowed it down to a set of about 14 questions with bullet pointed answers sitting in front of me during the interview itself.
To give you an idea, here are some of the questions I recall my recruiter asking me:
"Why do you want to work with Disney?"
"Why do you want to participate in the program?"
"Do you think it would be a big adjustment to move this far from home?"
"What qualities would make you suited for PhotoPass Photography?" (My top ranked role)
"Tell me about a time you had a disagreement with a roommate."
I won't list my written answers here, because I fully believe in individual answers. In other words, my answers are best suited for me and my experience, and your answers are best suited for you and your experiences. Those little differences will set you apart from other applicants, and you should utilize those qualities rather than using a carbon copy of mine! Be yourself, be honest, and be thoughtful.
Practicing is just as important as preparing though. Once you have your cheat sheet narrowed down, speak through your answers a few times. I like to say them out loud as I write to find what feels most natural in order and phrase, and then I set it aside until the next day, when I ran through it a couple of times by myself. Eventually, I handed my cheat sheet to my roommate to sort of "quiz" me and mix up the questions just enough so it wasn't precisely what I had written on the page. Practicing with someone else, whether it be a significant other, a friend, a roommate, or a stranger in the hallway, can vastly improve your nerves when it comes to the actual PI, and as they say, practice makes perfect!
Present refers to presenting yourself in a professional and "Disney-esque" manner. Disney is very obviously looking for a specific sort of person to employ in their parks, and while you should, to a point, tailor your answers to what they want to hear, if you're not being honest they will see through your lies. It's crucial that you're professional and honest at this point in the interview process. Whether it's about your experience or a tattoo, telling the truth can prevent you from ending up in a role or situation you hate, so if there's a role you really have no interest in, don't say you're interested if you're not, but if there's something you really want to do, mention that! Be enthusiastic and stay positive and polite! Present yourself in a way that would make Walt Disney proud.
And just as a bonus, here are just a few extra tips to help your Phone Interview go smoothly:
- Schedule your phone interview at a time that's good for you. Your PI will be scheduled for a half hour period, but they can call anywhere up to 15 minutes before the scheduled time or 15 minutes after the scheduled start time, so block off an hour, and remember that they're working in Eastern Standard Time, so triple check your time block.
- Dress like you would for a real interview, or at least in a manner that makes you confident. I wore a pair of dark-wash jeans (my favorite pair) with a cute blouse and my favorite black blazer and I actually wore my Knights on Broadway heels for extra confidence. Yes, even though I was just sitting in my apartment, I wore my show heels. In addition, I did my hair and makeup that morning to give myself the confidence I needed.
- Situated yourself in a location that's quiet and has good signal. They won't continue the interview if you're actively driving, so keep that in mind, but I know some drive their car to a local park or a remote part of a parking lot and park there for their interview. I did mine in my apartment, and my roommate was kind enough to step out for the morning so I could have the place to myself.
- Spread out your notes in front of you, have a couple of questions to ask your recruiter prepared (I used the standard "Have you participated in the Disney College Program?" and "Is it too early to request a location?"), and keep a pencil or pen nearby to write down the name of your recruiter! Be sure to thank them by name at the end of the interview (Thank you Nancy)!!!
- Some people set up a camera and film themselves. I did this because I'm so used to sitting in front of a camera and the setup and recording light reminded me to smile and present the same bubbly personality I try to have on camera. If you don't feel comfortable on camera, don't film yourself. It's as simple as that, but it's certainly something to think about!
- The call will come through on a blocked number. ANSWER IT. If you don't answer the first time they will likely call again, but it's better if you answer the first time.
- Remember it's a conversation with your recruiter, not just an interview. They're asking questions to get a feel of who you are as a person, but I ended up having an entire conversation with my recruiter on the history of the Disney College Program that lasted significantly longer than my answers to any of the other questions. It's a real person on the other end of the line, and having a real conversation with them can reflect positively, since you'll be having real conversations with guests in the parks if you're accepted. Don't force it, of course, but if it feels natural to ask a question here or there or discuss something further, go for it!
- S.M.I.L.E. I can't stress this enough, and it's something that everyone discussing the Phone Interview will say, but it's honestly the most important part about the phone interview. Disney is looking for positive, happy students to participate in their programs, because the Disney Parks are positive, happy places. They will be able to tell on the other end of the line if you're smiling, so do it as much as you can or is comfortable. As I just said, the camera was my reminder to smile, but for you it might be a giant sign on your wall that has SMILE written out in giant letters, but whatever it is, don't forget to show those teeth!
All in all, when it comes to the Phone Interview, just remember the Three P's: Prepare, Practice, Present, and to smile, and you'll already be more than ready for this giant step toward the Disney College Program.
Have a magical day!