Getting the job – learning from actors

Job applicants find interviews stressful, just as actors find auditions stressful. Advice to actors on how to prepare for auditions offers some useful parallels for applicants.

In their book ‘Acting Is Believing‘ (Charles McGaw, Larry Clark, Kenneth Stilson) the authors offer the following advice.

  • ‘After agreeing to an audition, your presence is expected.’ Likewise, if you are asked to attend an interview, turn up. If you are unable to attend, you must give some notice and perhaps a reason for your absence.
  • ‘Your audition begins the moment you walk out your front door.’ You never know who you will meet en route to an interview who may be connected to the process. How you talk to reception staff may also be noted. Arrive at least 15 minutes early. ‘Nothing looks more unprofessional than tardiness.’
  • ‘Remember, you are a professional in pursuit of a job, and your dress should reflect your professionalism.’ Look the part, dress for the job.
  • ‘… use your techniques for relaxation to control your nervousness.’ Relaxation involves both mind and body. Remove any condition that blocks your ability to perform at the interview. People use different methods, including deep breathing, yoga, physical exercises. Find what works for you.
  • ‘If possible, you should preview the performance space before your audition.’ Find out where the interview is to take place, even the room if possible. Find out who is on the selection panel, their name and role.
  • ‘Be careful not to tall into the trap of being “psyched-out” by the other actors.’ You may know some of your competition or have guessed at it. Put that information aside. Focus on presenting your best case. Trust yourself and your abilities.
  • ‘You are not in competition with any one single person at the audition. The role is between you and the director.’ Likewise, what is important is the relationship between you the applicant and the selection panel. Your job is to make it as easy as possible to decide in your favour.
  • ‘Upon entering the acting arena, smile and relax… maintain a confident, pleasant, and positive persona.’ Walk into the interview space with confidence. Smile and greet each of the panel members. First impressions count.
  • ‘Find the light. Casting directors cannot understand actors who refuse to act in the light.’ A job interview means ‘selling’ yourself’. You are the centre of attention and you need to ‘find the light’ and show your light. No one will do this for you.
  • ‘Be yourself. Do not apologize. This does not mean to literally say, “I’m sorry”, but rather people apologize with their gait, their gestures, their eyes, and their vocal inflection.’ You don’t have to put on an act during an interview. Be yourself. And also, convey confidence in yourself. Avoid putting yourself down or denigrating your past.
  • ‘Your transition and exit are also extremely important parts of the audition process. Take your time between pieces.’ A job interview is not a race. There are no prizes for completing responses quickly. Take your time to respond to questions.
  • ‘Relax. You are the reason they are there.’ Believe the selection panel wants you to succeed. They want to fill a position and have invited you to be there to convince them the job has your name on it.
  • ‘Be proud of your work, and do not apologize for your presence!’
Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist® specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.