Professional Development

3 Tips to Nail Your Next Interview (From a Professional Actor)

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My first-ever job interview was at a hole-in-the-wall café. I sat at a dirty table with an intimidating store manager, scrambling to answer questions I had never been asked before: Could I work under pressure? How would I address conflict with a coworker? Somehow, I passed and entered the world of customer service. While working in this world, I have also trained and performed as a professional actor in Los Angeles and Denver. And because the theater isn’t always a sustainable profession, I have found myself researching other roles to pay the bills while I work as an actor by night. In fact, I recently found a position I thought would be a great fit and went after it.

Now I’m sitting in an office lobby awaiting a different kind of interview; one where I am calm, collected and ready to be myself. Unlike my first interview, this is exciting and fun. Why? Well, since that interview at the café, my experience with acting auditions instilled the diligence, commitment, and confidence I needed to be a stellar candidate today.

In this blog, I’ll share the interview tips I learned as an actor that will help you in the professional world.

Be Prepared

Just like auditions, interviews shine a (potentially terrifying) spotlight on you. To prepare for an audition and allay some of that fear, an actor must know her strengths and seek roles that are appropriate for her. She chooses relevant material and researches the production before the audition. She frequently auditions for the sake of auditioning. By attending hundreds of practice auditions, I learned diligence and overcame my discomfort in that spotlight.

So, dust off your resume and start attending frequent, stress-free interviews to gain confidence and stamina. As you practice interviewing in high-pressure situations, you will perform well in high-pressure situations. Although you don’t want to be a robot, you can practice interview questions just like learning audition material. This is worth your time and will familiarize you with how a typical interview will go. The more educated you are, the better you can prepare for that truly important interview.

Be Committed

Embrace the spotlight! In an audition, you can wait in a lobby and worry yourself to death just like you would before an interview, but this isn’t necessary. Commit to what you know: Your strengths, what you bring to a team, any “dumb questions” you have. Don’t be afraid to shine; this is your time to sell your strengths and ask good questions. If I can offer any advice from an audition standpoint, I strongly endorse taking time to commit to yourself before the interview. Make an internal commitment to rely on all the preparation you’ve done and believe that it will be enough.

Be Yourself

This is critical. As backward as it sounds, I’ve learned from auditions that the director doesn’t sit in his chair hoping you’ll fail. He needs an actor, and he wants you to be the one! This mentality freed me up to be myself entirely. Be yourself, and you’ll stand out in the best way. The hiring manager wants you to be a smart choice for her team, and she is rooting for you! There’s no better time to take the stage and share what you’ve got. Life as an actor required years of auditions to perform well under pressure. And it took years of performing for me to feel comfortable with myself to the point of letting go completely.

That said, I highly recommend practicing interview questions with someone you trust who will give you some honest feedback, but allow you to relax and be yourself. Practicing those questions not only prepares you but allows you to be flexible with how you answer them. Know before you go: what about the position is attractive to you, and what makes you the best candidate? You better believe one reason should be that you can be yourself in the role and excel because of who you are and what you offer.

You’re not wrong if you think auditions are nerve-wracking and risky. The same goes for interviews. However, these two phenomena are so similar that the pointers for auditions can be highly applicable to interviews. As someone who employs these practices before each audition, I know it pays to prepare, commit and be yourself.

While I wait for the interview, I reflect on what I prepared. I take a deep breath and focus. Then, suddenly, my name is called. I’m ready, I’m excited, and I’m going to shine.

Do you have any interview tips that I missed? Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments!