Think Like an Actor!Dec 16, 2020
Think Like an Actor!
5 Ways to Own Your ONLINE Interview
Welcome to the Wild West
It’s the Wild West out there, with respect to the job market (never mind the actual rodeo show that is the online/offsite/remote/digital realm of work).
Now, you can pretty much be assured that every interview you have will be online.
There has long been a history of telephone interviews (at least in the preliminary vetting stage): as the knowledge of online visual platforms has become commonplace, a virtual interview has also become the norm.
Reframing the Interview Process
Try this: instead of thinking about an interview, think about an audition. That’s what an interview is, realistically. The employer, a company, director, etc., is deciding if you’re right for the role.
- Will you fit with other cast mates?
- Do you give off the right ‘vibe’?
- Do you have the right skill set? (for instance, don’t put down that you worked with Cirque du Soleil if you didn’t, because you think somebody won’t read it or they won’t take you seriously - both actually happened to me at a real theatre audition….and that was awkward…).
- Even, dare I say it, do you fit the culture of the organization (or, in our analogy, do you fit in the ensemble that has already been cast)?
When you start to think about interviews like this, you’ll be able to switch up your thinking in lots of important and useful ways, such as:
1. Dress for the role (in theatre, performers often wear ‘blacks’ so that they don’t come off as a personality, but can rather be imagined into that part by the casting director).
In ‘work’ auditions, the ‘costume’ you wear helps the ‘casting director’ (often, HR) easily imagine you into the role. Yes, we say ‘dress professionally’, but really? we’re just subtly cueing the interviewer that we ‘fit’ the role.
This lady, in the hair towel? Audition fail. Unless it’s for a shampoo commercial. Then, maybe…..
And no one cares if you’re wearing your panties or yoga pants below the camera shot. If there was ever a time to ensure comfort, this is it, right?
2. Speak for the role (in theatre, performers frequently come with a speach pattern or dialect prepared that they think ‘fits’ the character they’re trying out for - sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t!).
For work ‘auditions’, the same thing goes - dropping F-bombs is probably not the choice for those interviewing for a teaching position...but maybe you’re
‘trying out’ for an edgy, arts-based training facility, and a strategically-placed F-bomb signals that we have the jam to play in the band. Again, know what you’re getting into so that you can make choices that send the right message.
And look! Underpants AND an
Speaking for the role also includes speaking clearly, with variety, and with an expressive face. Practice in a mirror. Record yourself and playback. Trust me when I say that someone who is fairly dull and monotone in person will come off even worse in a digital format.
3. Focus on the Role Seems obvious, I know, but man….have I seen some fun stuff recently? Being on-screen, while at home, is not an invitation to multitask, ESPECIALLY not during an interview. Think of it this way: if you were an actor, going in for a screen test (where they film you and see if you are “right” for the role), would you stand there checking your Instagram? Well, you might, but then I’d venture that the part won’t go to you. Just sayin’.
Put the dog outside, the cat in the laundry room, the phones on silent, the kids in front of the TV (in another room!), close the windows, the doors, the apps, the notifications, and anything else that will wail, weep, woof, squeak, beep or blare. Ain’t nobody got time for reality in an audition (plenty of time for that afterward!).
4. Control Your Stage We’ve already been talking about how you look, speak and behave for your “audition”, but you have another element you have to consider that Zoom and COVID have brought to your doorstep - your stage. I covered a lot of elements in the September blog on Zoom Theatre (LINK), but here are a few EXTRA considerations, especially for interview/auditions:
- Control your space - what kind of space are you in? Cluttered? Clean? Cramped? Do the best you can to subtly reassure your interviewers that you’ve got your shit together and that you are thinking about the details.
- Control your background - Sure, you want to make sure that you make a good impression, and sure, you want to control your space (above), but what you DON’T want is for your background choice to become a distraction. I know it’s tons of fun to give yourself a tropical backdrop or float in space, but no one, nowhere, is going to believe you’re doing your interview in front of the Taj Mahal. So don’t.
- Control your comfort - When you interview in person, you don’t have a lot of choices about temperature, chair comfort, smells, etc.. You’re limited to making sure your underwear doesn’t pinch and you’ve done everything possible to prevent pit stains. But for god’s sake, you are interviewing from your home (or coffee shop). YOU CONTROL the environment. Check the chair comfort, set the thermostat, light a candle. It’s not that hard.
5. Get Your Head Into the Space of the Character Or, for our purposes, the frame of mind of someone who is confident, prepared, and has a lot to bring to the table. Actors have tons of tricks they use in order to get ready for an audition, and they work equally well for interviews. And before you write these off as ‘flaky’ or too ‘New Age artsy-fartsy’, do your research. There is a LOT of research backing up the efficacy of these techniques. And hey, do you want the job or not? Then buck up, buttercup.
Meditation helps calm the mind and focus your attention before the ‘big moment’.
Affirmations, such as “I am in total control of my nerves in this audition”, written out and/or repeated are (while initially uncomfortable for many) work wonders in replacing negative self-talk.
Deep Breathing, or the simple act of monitoring your full in-breath and out-breath, can trigger your calming response, and keep you clear-headed (and it can also be used unobtrusively during an online interview, to calm any creeping anxiety).
Warm Up, whether that means running through a bunch of imaginary questions (OUT LOUD - it doesn’t count if you just do this in your head!), or whether it means finding some online tongue twisters or actor’s voice exercises. Moving your mouth and sounding your voice can help those feelings of jaw-clenching and word-stuttering that afflicts the best of us, when under pressure.
Remember: Do WHATEVER IT TAKES to ensure your audition is the one they remember, because you were calm, collected, and clearly the right choice.
Feeling like you might need a little professional “help” (of the audition/interview coaching variety)? Get in touch!
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