3 Reasons Job Interviews Are Just Like Hollywood Auditions
There are few things in life as disheartening as getting to the final round of a job interview, only to learn that – once again – the other candidate was selected. Having seen several colleagues go through this recently, I know there’s a cumulative effect that can really dampen your spirit. As my friend Jim Alviani used to joke, “no one wants a cabinet full of silver medals.”
But friends in transition, fear not: as discouraging as this process can be, it’s just a matter of time before you land the perfect gig. I know this because … I’m a theater dad.
See, my daughter is a performer. She loves to sing, act, dance … basically anything that gets her onstage and in front of an audience. This is some sort of genetic curse, apparently. Poor kid.
Anyway, following this passion means she spends a lot of time in the auditioning process. Lots of prep work, research, practice – anything to increase her chances of getting the part during her brief window in front of the casting director.
In spite of all of that work, directors unfortunately still end up selecting someone else the majority of the time. It’s just the nature of an industry when there is so much supply (talented actors) with such limited demand (great roles).
As a father, I’ve tried to always stay positive when things don’t work out and remind her that even when she gives a flawless audition, there are some fundamental realities she has to remember about this business that are beyond her control. As we were discussing an upcoming audition this week, it occurred to me that the job interview process is eerily similar to the casting process – and the same three fundamental truths apply. Specifically:
1. Just because you’d be GREAT in the role doesn’t mean you will GET the role: Great actors are very versatile, and for any given part in a summer blockbuster there are probably a handful of A-List actors that could pull off the role brilliantly. But ultimately it isn’t just about ability – there are other intangibles that pushed one actor over the edge to get the part. The same is true in filing a position. For the final list of 3-5 candidates, it’s likely that any one of them could do the job successfully, but ultimately one candidate rose to the top. One of the reasons this happens is …
2. You don’t know exactly what the casting director is looking for based solely on the script: You can read through the “sides” (small selections from the script that are used for auditioning), but any sense of the character’s back story, the other characters, how this scene fits into the entire narrative, etc., is often unclear. All you can do is memorize the lines and hope that your personalization of the character matches how the director was envisioning that part.
It’s the same thing in the job search process – according to a senior HR executive I know, a job description is, at best, 60% of the reality of a position. The ability to find additional information might be limited, and often times the job description is all you’ve got. So as a candidate, you have to make choices and do your best as you navigate the process. Unfortunately, even when you nail the interview and have a great rapport with the hiring manager, the job goes to someone else. Because at the end of the day …
3. You almost never know who you are up against for the role: Usually a casting call waiting room is populated with 25 girls that look like some version of my daughter (although not nearly as beautiful or talented, of course). 🙂 Nonetheless, they all have something slightly different to offer, which might be the exact special something the casting director wants. They are a little taller, their voice has a specific character, etc. Nothing any of us can change or control – it’s just something unique to the individual.
The same is true when applying for a position: even though you would be an awesome addition to the team in this role, someone else has just a little something different – call it “fit” in the business world – that made them the first choice. And there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, particularly if you are being a true representation of yourself.
BONUS FRUSTRATION: There are also some auditions where they’ve had an actor chosen for the role all along, but they go through the audition process to make sure there isn’t a wild card out there that would make them reconsider their first choice. Anyone who has ever gone through four rounds of interviews for a job – only to find out they went with an internal candidate – knows this feeling.
So there you have it: these are the realities of the process. But if you are in transition, don’t let yourself be discouraged! You have something unique to bring forward and you just need to find the right fit – so don’t give up! And remember you have options, as there are actually two clear paths to move forward:
1. Keep auditioning: My friend Dan Navarro is an amazing singer/songwriter, and he does a lot of voice over work on films. His advice to my daughter was simple: take every audition. If you give yourself an artificial limit (e.g. if I don’t get a role after 100 auditions, I’m quitting) it just means you’ll never make it to the 101st audition, where you would have been the perfect fit. In the job search, you can’t let rejection stop you. Remember the words of a great Italian philosopher: “It ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”
2. Direct your own production: Some actors decide to just shift gears and write, direct, and star in their own show. This gives them complete freedom in what they create, who they work with and which milestones they recognize in their process. The same is true of the business world, as many Gen Xers (and others) are debating whether they really want to return to the corporate world – or try and do their own thing in the gig economy.
If this is of interest at all (and I’d urge you to consider it if you haven’t already), I’d highly recommend you check out the consulting course from Catherine Byers Breet at Arbez, the New Ventures group with the White Box Club for those of you in the Twin Cities, or – if you are specifically looking at sales and marketing and are ready to be a fractional CMO – the brand new certification course from Unified Funnel Metrics that John Arms and Jason Voiovich just launched.
And just remember, whether you are interviewing for the VP of Operations at a $200M manufacturing firm – or trying out for Rizzo at the Old Log Theatre’s production of Grease – always remain true to who you are and put the best version of yourself forward. When the right casting/hiring director sees the magic you can bring, you’ll snag the role!