Ballroom Dance > Studio interview questions

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by nimmity, May 18, 2010.

  1. nimmity

    nimmity New Member

    I'm applying to become an instructor and will be having interviews at a number of studios over the next month (both independent and franchise)
    Does any one have suggestions of what sort of questions I'll be asked?
    Should I be careful what questions I ask them?
    Any general advice?

    I'm really excited (although a little nervous!)
  2. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    To nimmity

    nimmity, best wishes and good luck in this new and worthy pursuit of yours!

    - Ray :)
  3. jump'n'jive

    jump'n'jive Well-Known Member

    you should be asking tons and tons of questions. feel free to pm me with some specific questions or concearns you might have.
  4. suburbaknght

    suburbaknght Well-Known Member

    Questions They'll Ask

    - What is your dance background?
    - Why do you want to teach dance?
    - What do you think is the most important trait for an instructor to have?
    - How would you teach a [style you know] basic step?
    - What would you say to someone considering starting lessons?
    - Other general interview questions.

    What You Should Ask Them

    - What type of training is provided and how often?
    - How long does training continue before new instructors are given students?
    - How is ongoing training conducted?
    - How much does training focus on dancing, teaching, and sales?
    - Does the studio include training from outside coaches?
    - How do we gain access to the studio to practice?
    - Does the studio provide materials (equipment, syllabi, etc.) for study?
    - Does the studio require instructors to be certified?
    - What is the age range of your students?
    - What are your students' goals?
    - What other duties beyond teaching will I have?
    - What compensation is provided? What benefits?
    - Are teachers studio employees or do they rent floor space?
    - How will this affect my professional/amateur status?
    - How are students assigned to teachers?
    - Are teachers paid hourly or by the lesson? Are they paid for studio parties and showcases?
    - What is the studio's policy on socializing with students outside the studio?
    - How many lessons are conducted simultaneously? How is music and space allocated?
    - What advantages do you offer that other studios I'm applying to can't match?
  5. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    Policy on missing days for your own competing. Even if you don't have a partner now, if you have any thought of competing in future, make sure you know this, as lots of studios have their socials on fridays, which is also when you'd likely be out for competitions.
  6. TangoRocks

    TangoRocks Member

    I overheard a fragment of a new instructor candidate - franchise studio phone conversation, and the franchise studio wanted to know about the persons "customer service" experience in any field (specifically mentioned it did not have to be dance related) It sounded kind of weird that they didn't ask about his dance experience but then again franchises usually claim they can train just about anybody to be a dance teacher if they have the right attitude, so...

    Good luck with your interviews and I second the above, ask lots and lots of questions yourself! :)
  7. nimmity

    nimmity New Member

    You guys are great!

    Believe me I have millions of questions. I just don't want to shoot myself in the foot by asking them about sick pay for a junior instructor and get laughed at!
    As I'm not american the visa means I can't be paid from any other source. I will need a much bigger guarantee than most beginner teachers get.
    Is it ok to play studios off each other ?
    "Well, ******* is offering ______, can you do that?"
    Is it ok to go for an interview, get offered the job (hopefully) and then say that I'm also going to ______ the next day so I don't want to give them an answer there and then?
  8. Generally speaking I think you should not say that you're going to interview with someone else the next day, I would say something like "I will need some time to think about the offer" and agree on a decision date by when you will let them know. This kind of job hunting/offer negotiation stuff is covered quite extensively on the internets so you may want to do some google searches on how to deal w/ negotiating pre and post offers, getting written contracts, etc.
    Which visa would you be on?
  9. LindyKeya

    LindyKeya Member

    Over the course of multiple interviews at different studios (including chains and independents) in different states, I have consistently been amazed at the interview process.
    In my experience, the interviews have been very low-key, and involved predominantly "getting to know you" type of questions, as opposed to what I've always considered standard interview types of questions from my day job. One interview was particularly crazy, with some short (2 minutes?) chatter about how I'd handle childrens'/youth classes, and otherwise just small talk about why I was relocating to this place, etc.

    Only 1 followed the general outline in #4 above (and it turned out to be the least viable job, for what that's worth).

    (And in all cases I was offered the position.)
  10. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    1) Do NOT play one studio against the other. You will only get yourself the reputation of a trouble maker and someone who likes to stir the pot. The community is too small for that.

    2) There is no formal interview generally. They will want to know you as a person before they care about your formal training or college education. Frankly most could care less what your formal training is... as you will have to conform to THEIR methods for teaching and dancing anyway. They care far more that you are nice, articulate, clean, and willing and your potential as a teacher.

    3) Wear something that you would teach in, but maybe a tiny bit nicer, and still comfortable to move in in case they want to see you "mock" a lesson. Bring your shoes (CLEAN).

    4) Asking about personal day pay and insurance is a must. Understanding EXACTLY how you will get paid is very important.

    Your guarantee should not matter. If you are a good teacher you will pass it soon anyway. It is NOT something you should rely on or think you are going to survive on. If you have to live off a guarantee you are not doing a good job and they would let you go anyway. A lot of studios only offer it for the first two months. After that they expect you to be producing income FOR THEM rather than them carrying you.

    And whether you are American or not won't matter to them. An American kid with no dance experience is just as valuable to them if not more.... because they can train the kid to teach and dance exactly as they want. A dancer that comes into a studio with ballroom background already presents a problem in that it usually ends up in a hassle to get the dancer to give up certain values and concepts in their dancing to fit in with the studio. I can't tell you how many immigrant teachers I have known over the years that fight constantly with the owners because they want to do things "their way because they "know better" because they have been "dancing since they were 10". That attitude is deadly and creates a hostile work environment. Not to metion that as an amateur dancer with no teaching experience there is a fair amount of shock when it finally sinks in that you were hired to teach and sell... instead of as a dancer. Hiring some young eager hopeful off the street is often an easier route for studios. Don't try to hardball.
  11. nimmity

    nimmity New Member

    From my understanding it is far more important that I "fit" the studio environment that I get the "best" pay. Lets face it I'll be spending all my time there and I'd rather be happy than rich (and who goes into this for the money!)

    I'm of the opinion that they are giving me an opportunity rather than me doing them a favour so I'm not in a position to haggle. (not the case in my current job)

    The lack of official interview is a little unnerving but almost nicer as there is nothing to stress about. Either they like me over all our conversations and think I'd be good or they don't. There's no one day when I have to be perfect or its all over.

    All the studios I've spoken to so far have asked why I'm not staying at my current studio. It is particularly strange to be looking elsewhere? I just told them that there was no space for a new teacher and I'd find it hard not to be allowed to see my friends.

    Only one asked me about sales experience.

    Another spent most of the time asking me about my degree as he thought it sounded impressive, barely anything about dancing at all!
  12. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    Exactly it is not about the pay but about creating a great environment for everyone to grow in. From a great environment you have the opportunity to thrive, find your individuality and niche and really develop into a great teacher. Then you will find your dancing is enhanced and money will start coming in because you have a total package. Laying a fertile groundwork is first... money is later.
  13. Merrylegs

    Merrylegs Well-Known Member

    So, did you get the job? Which one did you choose?
  14. nimmity

    nimmity New Member

    I'm going to visit one studio this evening and another next week. There is another that is talking to the people in charge of the money about paying for my visa, but as thats further (5hrs) away its harder for me to go and visit.

    Tonight I'm going around 7 to dance with one of their teachers, joining in their group class at 8 and their party at 9.
    I'm a little nervous as its not like anything I've ever done. Even worrying about what to wear. Lets face it I look like a high school teacher not a dancer!
    I'm hoping I don't have to dance perfectly just well enough so they can see some potential.
    If they like me I guess they'll ask me back to talk about things further but I think today is just getting to know people. Its an independent rather than FADS so I'll be interested to see the differences.
  15. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    They are going to watch how you interact with the students.

    Notice the staff as they are setting up for the party... bringing out chips and drinks. If you are free go help them. Watch the snacks during the party, fill the water pitcher when it is low. Find some old lady having trouble buckleing her shoe... go help her.

    At the party let the songs begin, let most everyone get a partner, then scout out the leftover people waiting and ask them to dance. Every once in a while sit and chat with someone at their table.

    Don't act like you have to be babysat or taken care of. Act like you are taking care of the students. Be sure to mingle well.

    Before the very end of the party notice the trash and empty cups laying around. Start collecting them and cleaning up.
  16. nimmity

    nimmity New Member

    Thanks for the suggestions.

    How smart should I dress?
    Should I take something else to change into for the party so I'm not horrible and sweaty?!

    If they ask if I'm looking at other studios should I be totally honest " I'm going to _________ on saturday" or vague "I'm looking at all my options"?

    Any more advice?
  17. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    Be honest, but don't play them against each other. If they are in the same community, they already know their weaknesses and strengths among themselves. Adding to that tension serves no one. Just be honest. "I am looking into Studio X and Y as well." that is enough to let them know.

    They are not going to dance you so hard that you will be "horrible and sweaty". But if you feel like bringing a change of clothes by all means knock yourself out. And if this is the route you go i would show up in my nice clothes and bring my practice clothes to change into for the dancing portion of the interview. And then return to my nice clothes for class and party.

    One question... Is this studio a "button down and tie for the men, and skirts and hose of the ladies"? Or do they wear cargo pants and jeans to teach in... or somewhere in between? When I go to a studio I am unfamiliar with I wear clean tailored black pants and a very nice blouse. From there I get a sense of how formal or casual they are. Although when I coach I always dress up a notch, never down. And since you are interviewing I would suggest dressing up one notch also.

    Good luck!
  18. nimmity

    nimmity New Member

    It was a long but fun night!

    Almost as soon as I walked in the lead instructor danced with me (not even changing shoes!) They were pretty impressed, he even tried a few lifts with me!
    The hustle group class was busy and fun. Then there was a 2 hr party with 3 demos and a wedding couple. It was a bit different from my FADS parties but it was good.
    At the end the manager said they'd love to have me (and that I'd passed within the first half hour of being there!) and we'd have to talk more soon.
    I didn't get a chance to ask lots of hard questions about training etc so I'll have to do that another day.
    Its nice to know that they want me, now I just have to find out if I want them!
  19. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    To nimmity...

    nimmity, very cool! :rocker:
  20. nimmity

    nimmity New Member

    So the studio I visited offered me the job but when I asked about training they said I could start teaching tomorrow. I could get certified but it was not required.
    This terrifies me. How can I teach something I don't know? I follow very well and know my steps but I don't know what the guy is doing!
    Surely this is worse than being a franchise 6week wonder.
    I don't really know how to say "I'd love to teach for you, but you'll have to show me how first!"
    Noo2Dans likes this.

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