Pity the actor. Most of us only experience the dreaded job interview every few years, or maybe months, if you’re in production. But actors. Every day they go on auditions, an insanely high-pressure competition with little of the pleasantries that at least you and I are afforded when we go out in search of a job. And that’s if they’re extremely lucky.
How do they do it? How do they stand out from the crowd? How do they become memorable? How do they manage to stay positive in the face of seemingly endless rejection?
It’s daunting, but definitely doable. We’ve spoken to acting coaches and casting directors and gathered up their advice. With these tips, you’ll not only stand out from other applicants, but you’ll be in a stronger position psychologically, one that projects confidence and helps you cope with the results of your interview, regardless of what they might be.
- Presentation counts. Make sure your résumé is beautifully done. It’s the equivalent of your head shot. Keep it clean, crisp and fast. Make it look stunning. Include references and credits prominently.
- Know your script. Actors often have sides to memorize for an audition. You will not, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a script. Create a list of questions that may come up in your interview, then write pithy, powerful answers – and memorize them. What is your greatest strength? Weakness? What will you bring to this position that we can’t find in someone else? Knowing you have a short, sharp answer will give you an air of readiness and make it easier to ad lib around your core point. This tip alone will set you apart from 99% of applicants, who, when faced with challenging questions often stumble and fumble trying to think up a smart response on the spot.
- Understand what they’re looking for. Yes, the right skills. Yes, unique talents. But just like a casting director, employers are looking for someone who’s easy to work with, able to take direction, and have the ability to act in a way that the director – sorry, manager! – wants.
- Don’t make excuses. No one cares if you have a headache or your dog chewed the cord to your computer. You are there to do your best, so just get to it.
- Arrive early. Give yourself at least 30 minutes. Sit in the car, relax, have a sip of coffee and go over your scripted responses. It’s way better than scrambling at the last minute muttering obscenities to yourself about the lack of parking spaces. Bonus tip: Make your appointment in the morning hours, rather than the late afternoon when everybody is ready to take a nap already.
- Make your first minute count. When you meet someone, how long does it take for you to start sussing them up? What, about three seconds? Same thing with the person interviewing you.
- Remember people’s names, and use them.
- If you’re asked to make a choice or decision, make it. Don’t try to ingratiate yourself to the interviewer by trying to mind read what they might want to hear. Be yourself. Be decisive. Have some confidence. Project strength.
- Use an actor’s 3 Cs. Be comfortable, be charismatic, be confident. Like an actor, you want to command attention. You want to be the most interesting person they’ve met in a long time. Someone they’d like to get to know.
- Go on as many interviews as you can. In other words, practice. You’ll become accustomed to the nerves. You’ll learn to relax. And most important, you’ll develop the most important attribute of all: Your state of mind. Which leads to the next tip.
- Frame the interview properly in your mind. Actors have to bear endless rejection, and it isn’t easy. Without the right mental framework within which to judge your feelings, it’s easy to get negative or discouraged. Think of it this way:
- Every interview is a win, even if for the only reason that it’s good practice. That is a win. Feel good about putting yourself out there.
- If you aren’t called back, it could have nothing to do with you, but factors behind the scenes you’re unaware of. You might be surprised how often that’s the case. Remember, just because you aren’t selected doesn’t mean it’s you.
- An interview is a performance, and just as in every performance there are things you wish you had done better, so it goes with job interviewing. Write down the things you want to do better next time, and consider yourself lucky to learn them; heck, everybody could use improvement, but not everybody gets a chance to practice.
- Every interview is also putting you one step closer to the position you want.
Remember: Every interview is a win. Not necessarily because of the outcome, but because it is putting you through the process.