Over the last couple of weeks, I spent a total of 3 days in casting sessions. We saw kids, actors, dancers. It was a real trip for me seeing as how I spent most of my life on the other side of the table. Up until two weeks ago, I was the one walking in with the headshot and resume. I was the one trying to make a good impression.
As I sat there watching the auditions and interacting with the actors, I couldn’t help but feel compelled to share a few thoughts for those who are wanting to be hired and those doing the hiring.
To those seeking the work:
I know, I know, perhaps the most trite and cliched bit of interview/audition advice one could give. And yet, I couldn’t believe the number of people who walked into the room attempting to “be” something more than just themselves. It was truly maddening. I’m not wanting to hire who you think I want you to be, I want to hire YOU. (This goes for kids too! Dear Stage Parents, please layoff. We’re not interested in hiring mini-adults. We want to hire kids. Actual, well-adjusted kids. Thank you.) The thing about being yourself is that you might not get the job (your individuality might not be a fit for our culture) and then again, it is more likely that you’re uniqueness is the reason I want to hire you.
The interview is not a test.
I want every resume I read and every person that walks in the room to be the one. I want you to succeed in the interview, because if you’re it, we can all go home. (I believe the onus lies with the interviewer on this one, however.)
To those seeking the workers:
Don’t be an ass.
AKA leave your ego at the door. If you’re cool and cold, you leave very little room for your interviewee to be herself. She will also think she’s being tested (which she isn’t). So, knock it off. Be warm and inviting. Stop acting like a jerk because you have the power. You once were looking for a job too, remember?
My boss always says that he would rather suffer the pain of having an open position than to deal with the agony that comes with a quick, but wrong, hire. While this tactic is scary considering deadlines, shooting schedules, etc., we watched it play out right before our very eyes during our casting session. Towards the middle of day three we thought we had found the guy we had been looking for - at least compared to the others we had seen. We were exhausted and at one point we came close to making a call and sealing the deal with him. Had we not waited a few more hours we wouldn’t have been able to meet Lawrence, who was the very last guy we auditioned, who was the absolute best, who we then hired immediately. Waiting is always worth it.