Use these questions as an opportunity to mention your transferrable skills. For example, “I’m currently a work-study student at the college library. Each day, I quickly and accurately place returned books back on the shelf. I’m confident I could handle office work at the gallery because I’m detail-oriented, efficient and a fast learner.”
Verbal, interpersonal and written communication skills are essential, whether the intern is talking to artists, welcoming visitors to the gallery, or updating social media, according to the Warwick Center for the Arts. Art gallery interns must be poised, personable and informative when discussing works of art with patrons. Duties of the position might further include mingling with local artists at gallery receptions, writing promotional brochures, selling art and writing press releases for upcoming events.
Expect to be asked interview questions about your job skills. The particular skills desired vary depending on the size, type and scope of the gallery. You might be the only intern at a small gallery performing multiple creative and administrative tasks, or you might be one of many interns at a large gallery immersed in a particular area of museum curation.
Mary Dowd holds a doctorate in educational leadership and a master’s in counseling and student affairs from Minnesota State Mankato. Helping students succeed has been her passion while serving in many areas of student affairs and adjunct teaching. Currently she is a dean of students at a large, public university. Dr. Dpwd’s writing experience includes published research, training materials and hundreds of practical online articles.
The interviewer will be curious about your artistic interests and training as related to the internship. Although you’re not likely to be tested on art history, you may be asked to share your familiarity with the type of art shown at the gallery. The Indeed Career Guide indicates that internship candidates should research the gallery and be ready to identify courses they’ve taken that would make them an asset to the organization.
What You Should Already Know: Basically, you should know the ins and outs of the gallery’s about page on their website. This includes: year founded, owner, mission statement, and gallery hours. You should also have a working knowledge of at least a handful of the artists they represent and understand what “type” of art they work with (post-modern, sculpture, glass, contemporary). If the gallery’s site is ambiguous, then feel free to jot a few questions down!
What to Expect: Most of my interviews begin with a quick introduction to our gallery and what we do, what the position will entail, then a review of the interviewee’s credentials. Expect basic questions like “do you know Adobe Creative Suite?” “Do you have experience hanging or packing artwork?” or “Can you tell me more about your experience at State University Art Gallery?” However, one of our biggest questions (that so many potential hires seem so ill-prepared for) is: “where do you see yourself in five years?” This is such a rote interview question, but 90% of people seem to stumble on it. So have a genuine, succinct, and creative answer so that you don’t fall flat. I am also going to ask you what contemporary artists you’re currently into (bonus points if your answer is not Damien Hirst, Richard Prince, Tracy Emin, Ai Wei Wei or Jeff Koons– that just proves to me you Googled “famous contemporary artist” on you way to the interview) and be prepared to explain why in two to three sentences.
Key Skills: While there are a variety of skills you can acquire to be a competitive candidate for a gallery position, there are several key areas that truly make interviewees stand out from the crowd:
What to Bring: It should go without saying, but always, always, ALWAYS bring a copy of your resume, list of references, a notebook and pen, pre-prepared questions, and your daily planner. Bring a water bottle, too, just in case you rescind my offer of water at the beginning and get sudden dry-mouth during the interview.
Please check out an update to this post on my new blog, Girl With A Gallery.