Don’t sell yourself short; an interview is your time to shine!
by Jody Anderson Duquette & Greg Gerber
While scouring the help wanted ads, you found the ideal Workamping job for you. So, you create an awesome resume, submit it to the employer and cross your fingers. A short time later, you get the call you’ve been waiting for – the company wants to interview you for the job.
This is a critical step in the application process. Your resume gets you noticed by an employer, but the interview seals the deal.
Employers are looking for qualified candidates and, on paper, anyone can appear to be qualified. But, they are also looking beyond job skills to identify someone with the right attitude who would be a good fit for their business. That’s where the interview plays such a pivotal role in landing a great job.
Interviews serve two major roles. First, you need to sell yourself as the best candidate for the position. Then, you need to get information about the Workamping opportunity so you can decide whether the job is right for you or not.
Businesses rely on Workampers, especially mom-and-pop operations, to help run the company. A bad hiring decision can have a negative impact on any business. Remember, Workampers are typically on the front lines serving the employer’s customers – those people who give the company money for products and services – so the firm is fully dependent upon quality Workampers.
The job has to be a win-win for you, too. As a Workamper, you may be traveling hundreds of miles at a significant cost just to get to the job. You’re giving up your time to get to the location, and making a commitment to give up even more time over the course of the next few months.
Since your time is valuable, too, you need to make sure you’re not wasting time and money on a job that isn’t a good fit.
Workamper News has been in the business of connecting great Workampers with wonderful jobs for almost four decades. Over the years, we have discovered one essential truth. If people have a negative Workamping experience, it can often be traced back to not having an interview or not asking the right questions.
The Interview Process
Because employers can be hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away from potential Workampers, most interviews today take place online in some type of web chat, such as Zoom, Skype or Facetime.
That type of visual conversation allows employers to see your face, view your expressions, and evaluate the tone of your voice as well as your level of enthusiasm.
“Before the interview, make sure your equipment works, the software is downloaded and everything is configured properly,” Steve Anderson, who hired hundreds of Workampers before taking over Workamper News himself from 2005-2019, said.
“Anticipate some questions you’ll be asked, then rehearse your presentation and potential answers. Remember, your happiness is at stake and, hopefully, you’ll be making some wonderful memories,” he added. “It’s very important to be real. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not just to get a job.”
Some interviews may take place in-person, such as when a Workamper is traveling through an area, or the employer is recruiting at special events, like big RV shows.
When interviews take place online or over the phone, it is essential that you understand not just the time it is scheduled, but the time zone, too. Be on time and, if possible, be available a few minutes early.
It’s also a good idea to check with the employer a day or two before the interview to confirm the date and time. Employers often wear many hats, so they may not have time to remind you of the appointment.
To ensure the interview goes well, and certainly before accepting a job offer, make sure you do some research about the employer.
Do a quick Google search of the company’s name and look for recent news. Peruse the firm’s website, especially the About page and review any information about the company’s history. Look for information about the facility and services it may provide.
Also check social media sites, like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. It’s a good idea to read some reviews left by customers. That will give you a basic understanding of the business and what it does. Customer reviews can help you understand what they expect from the company, too.
Don’t forget to read reviews on employers submitted by former Workampers on workamper.com.
Taking time to research the company shows you are interested in the firm and its products or services. Recent social media posts and news stories are great conversation starters during an interview.
Try to research as much as you can before the interview so you can use that time to zero in on specific questions. Things like the weather and activities in the area are generally easy to find online. If you’re applying to a campground, the firm probably has a pet policy posted on its website.
Check out even small details, such as the route to get there. One Workamper discovered upon arrival that a ferry was required to reach the employer’s site and his RV was too large to fit on the ferry.
As you research the company, prepare a list of questions to ask, especially as they pertain to make-or-break items, like shifts, days off, compensation, and whether an RV site is included. You are looking to prove it’s the right job for you, as well as reasons to remove the job from consideration.
“The more you know about an employer, the better you look, especially when asking detailed questions about the company,” Steve explained. “Good questions put you a wrung or two above other candidates. Employers will be hiring you to help them run their business, so you want to give them as many reasons as possible to prove you’re the right person for the job.”
Here are some things you can do during the interview to ensure you make the best impression:
- Find a quiet area to sit that is free of loud music, crowds, television noise and barking dogs.
- Turn off the RV’s air conditioner or loud fans to reduce noise.
- Make sure your internet connection is working and strong enough to enable the call.
- Dress appropriately by avoiding T-shirts with brand logos, political statements or potentially controversial causes.
- Make sure the background is clear of clutter.
- Avoid sitting next to a window to ensure consistent lighting. You also don’t want an employer to be distracted by what’s taking place outside.
- Ensure where you are sitting is well lit from the front. You don’t want to appear as a silhouette like you belong in a witness-protection program.
- Try to schedule interviews during times you know you’re at your best. If you’re a morning person, seek an interview early in the day.
- Put a note on your outside door so someone doesn’t interrupt by knocking.
Make sure you have a copy of the help wanted ad and your resume available for you to reference. The employer may have questions about something you submitted, or you can draw his or her attention to something you sent. It’s also a good idea to have copies of emails or letters you sent or received.
Above all, have a way to take notes. Consider recording the conversation so you can refer back to it later. Often, Workampers are nervous or excited during an interview and may forget what was discussed. Just be sure to ask the employer before you start recording, and don’t share the recording with others, especially on social media.
“Dressing appropriately is essential! Even wearing pajama bottoms and a nice shirt can influence your demeanor,” Steve said. “Always dress for success and the outcome you want to have.”
“Never do the interview when you’re driving down the highway. Be sure to give the employer your undivided attention. You do not want to pause the interview so you can navigate an intersection or a construction zone,” he added.
Topics to Discuss
An interview is the ideal time to discuss details about the job, as well as any special needs you may have. Use the time to confirm things like job duties, work hours, compensation and whether overtime is available.
Don’t overlook other perks, too, like use of laundry facilities, discounts, bonuses, free electricity and good Wi-Fi connections. All those things add up when determining if the job is a good deal financially.
Be sure to address whether it is a volunteer position, or if you will be a W-2 employee or 1099 contractor. The answer can have tax consequences.
Address whether you have the same days off every week, or if you are expected to work split shifts in the morning as well as the evening.
Try to gauge the business climate. If you don’t like children, and it’s a family campground, the environment will be noisy. On the other hand, if you don’t want to be around a lot of more-senior people, then an over-55 community may not be the best fit.
Everyone has a different definition of what “remote” means. Ask about television signals and whether your cell phone provider provides good reception in the area. If you weren’t able to find out in your prior research, ask about the location of what you consider essential services, such as medical centers, restaurants, RV service centers and grocery stores.
Employers may have a different definition for a job duty, too. Does “maintenance” mean picking up trash and fixing picnic tables, or does it mean painting, using bulldozers to clear land, and fixing utility poles?
There are no silly questions! Is the job site on the flight path to an airport, next to a major highway, gun range or near train tracks? If you need 50-amp service, but only 30-amp is available, that could be a problem. Is there a sewer connection on site, or would you need to drive to a dump station, or will a honeywagon empty your tanks?
Be sure to talk about things you are unable or unwilling to do. Be upfront and honest, but don’t approach the employer with a list of conditions. Rather, work them into the discussion.
For example, if it sounds like lifting is involved, you might say your doctor doesn’t recommend lifting more than 20 pounds by yourself. If the employer describes indoor and outdoor duties, it would be appropriate to say you prefer working outside. Or, note you would rather work behind-the-scenes instead of in job which requires dealing with people.
If you do not want to clean toilets, be sure to say so. If you’re uncomfortable working around teenagers and international students, be honest. If you want to talk to the manager you’d be closely working with, then ask if that’s a possibility.
It’s easy to make assumptions and just as easy to get clarification, if you take the time to do it. If an employer is not open to providing details, it may be a red flag. Trust your instincts.
Your goal is to avoid surprises.
“If you are a brand new Workamper, it might not be a good idea to take a job where you are the only Workamper on staff,” Steve said. “A mom-and-pop operation with five Workampers may need you to wear multiple hats, whereas a larger company employing 100 people may allow you to consistently do specific tasks.”
If the duties seem daunting, then ask if there are knowledgeable people who could show you how to do the tasks mentioned. Doing so tells the employer you are interested the job and happy to help, but you will need some assistance, especially at first.
Don’t oversell yourself or your capabilities. If the employer is looking for someone with technical skills, but you can barely turn on a computer, don’t express confidence in your ability to fix printer problems.
If you want the job, but need specific days off to run your side business, or simply need to know your schedule in advance so you can juggle other commitments, then let the employer know up front. That way, accommodations can be made in advance, so there are no surprises when you arrive.
“One thing all Workampers should avoid is conveying an attitude the company needs to hire you to fix their business,” Steve said. “Workampers may see how other successful businesses are run. But, without having worked for this company, you don’t have context to tell an employer they need to fix their operation.”
“When someone conveyed that attitude to me, a red flag went up and I moved on to the next candidate,” he added. “There will be an appropriate time to make suggestions after you’ve worked at the company a while, but the interview is not that time.”
The Next Steps
At the end of the interview, if it appears everything would work out, you may be offered a job. But, you are under no obligation to accept it at that moment. In fact, if it’s the first offer you receive, it may be a mistake to do so unless the job checked all your “must have” options.
Ask the employer what the next steps would be, and how long you have to consider the offer. Find out how you can submit other follow-up questions later, if necessary.
However, once you accept a job, you must make a committed effort to meet those obligations. Don’t be a cherry-picker by accepting multiple jobs and then only going to one while leaving other employers high and dry.
After accepting a job, it is a courtesy to let other employers know of your decision and to thank them for their time. Perhaps, the other employers will consider you for a future season.
“Any time you put into the front end of finding a Workamping job will pay major dividends on the back end,” Steve explained. “Taking a job because you think you won’t get other offers can be a mistake.”
“The whole premise of Workamping is being able to travel where you want, when you want, and to stay as long as you want,” he added. So, if you wanted to be in the northwest, but got a job offer in the northeast, be sure to take time to think about it before accepting.
“Look for a job that matches your preferred lifestyle so you can enjoy the fun experiences you’ve been dreaming about,” Steve said.
Employers are looking for good, respectful people who are willing to learn, want to be part of a team and are excited to work for their business. As long as you come off as being real during the interview, and the same person reflected on the resume and during the interview shows up for work, it will be a great experience.