First let’s address the goal of the interview. If you’ve already gotten an interview, you do not need to worry about impressing anyone with your credentials, your affluence, etc. Everything of that nature was already in your resume and cover letter.
Your goal in an interview should be to help your interviewer understand who you are as a person and employee.
Many of the people who interview you will be your direct supervisor. They are looking for someone they can work with on a day-to-day basis. Therefore, you should be yourself as much as possible. As important as it may seem to be amazing to your interviewers, it is more important to be true to you. Most theatre jobs are a per-show basis. Therefore, when a person hires you to the position, they need to know exactly what they’re getting into.
- If you are a person that likes to tell jokes, bring one to your interview!
- Tell stories about yourself. Give as many details as you can in these stories while still being concise. It is even good to tell a “bad” story about yourself as long as a) you can say you learned from the experience and b) you can follow up with an example on how you improved.
- Leave room to breath between your responses. If your interviewer can build off what you said, you may be able to break your interview down to a conversation instead of q&a session.
Before the Interview
Prepping for the interview is just as important as actually doing the interview.
- Google company, see employee or client reviews, read their mission statement, explore their website.
- Look up interview questions and mock answer them in the mirror or with a friend.
- Choose an appropriate outfit. Dress for the position you want. (Even if it’s a phone interview, I like to do this just because it helps me feel a little more badass.)
- Make sure your website is up to speed. If you do not have a website, consider making one in the future.
- Do something that helps you relax. (Most recommended: raise your hands above your head in in the “victory stance.” It’s proven to raise your testosterone and reduce stress levels!)
Like most things you do in the professional world, interviewing is a skill. You need to research it, develop it, and practice it. Every interview you go to will be different, but they all tend to follow the same structure.
- The interviewer will tell you a little about her/himself, about the company they work for, and about the project or position.
- The interview will ask you to tell a little about yourself. This is the perfect time for your elevator speech.
- Questions for You
- The interviewer will ask you some questions about you.
- Interview Conclusion
- The interviewer will conclude their thoughts by addressing details you may have brought up in your questions.
- Questions from You
- The interviewer will ask if you have any final questions. Always ask at least three questions.
- Thank yous
- The interviewer will wrap up the dialogue
- You should thank the interviewer their time.
Your elevator speech is your 30 second breakdown of who you are and what you do. It should be conversational, concise, and give insight about you. It should not be a recitation of your resume. The idea being that should you meet someone in an elevator, you could hand them your business card by the time they get off.
For example, my elevator speech tends to sound something like this, “Well, I recently moved from Texas to stage manage for the Cape Symphony in Hyannis. But I also have been lucky enough to work with some local theatres in between concerts. I’m currently stage managing Romeo and Juliet. I’m excited to start some other projects this summer too.”
- Acknowledge your latest work
- If you have future work coming up, acknowledge it
- Say something unique about who you are
- Try not to sound rehearsed
Questions About You
This part is pretty straight forward and will typically be the bulk of your interview. If you’re scheduling an interview, I’m sure you’ve already Googled all the typical interview questions (or if you haven’t yet, you should have).
- Address the question in full. Use full sentences; anyone can give yes or no answers.
- If you do not understand the question, ask for clarification (note: ask a related question, do not say, “I don’t know.”).
- Try to give an an example of your work directly relating to the question.
- If you do not have a story that directly relates to the question, address that but give segue into something similar. (”While I have not had the opportunity to work with in on IATSE call, I based my own crew’s regulations on the local IATSE rules.” or “I’ve been lucky enough to never have an unruly actor in rehearsal, but in my position at Forever21 I did have to console many disgruntled customers…”)
- Use knowledge you have researched about the company and incorporate it directly into your answers. If you can, use similar wording on their website or job position.
- Pay attention to what kinds of questions they ask; they could be clues to good questions for you to ask a the end of the interview.
The interviewer will typically say something along the lines, “That’s all I needed to ask” and then give some kind of conclusion. For me it’s usually another description of the position, sometimes with details from your answers.
- Pay attention for new information.
- Try to break this down into a bit of a conversation by elaborating on the new things they bring up or items you did not get to address.
Questions From You
This can be the most important part of the interview. It will show some of your critical thinking and analysis and allow for you to get to know the company you may work for. Always have three questions at the end of the interview. If some of your questions have already been addressed in the interview, do bring that up. It shows that you were prepared.
- What are the main nuances you would like to see in this position?
- What are the qualities you value most in this position?
- How long have you worked with this company?
- Do you have any reservations about my qualifications?
- This one is my personal favorite. It’s a polite way of asking what will keep you from getting the position and addressing it immediately.
Always always always thank an interviewer for their time. They probably went through hundreds of emails, cover letters, resumes, portfolios, personal websites, job forums, etc. If nothing else, it’s just freakin’ polite and you should do it.
But after thanking them, tell them you look forward to hearing from them. This is a nice way of bringing up when they will contact you about the position. While it’s not bad etiquette to directly ask when there will be a follow up from the interview, I personally think it’s a little tactless.
The exception being if you are waiting to hear from other companies. If you are doing multiple interviews and are already getting offers from other companies, bring it up. This will make you seem more valuable and make it easier to negotiate pay.
After the Interview
You’re not done yet. Remember that part where I said interviewing is a skill? Now you have to analyze how it went.
Note: This does not mean you get to beat yourself up if something went wrong.
But you should look at your responses. Questions to ask yourself after an interview:
- How could I have elaborated more?
- Did I leave any room for uncertainty?
- What was my body language like?
- Did I give them a good idea of who I am?
After you’ve done this, do yoga, drink some beer, whatever it is that helps you relax at the end of the day because you did it!