18th May 2021
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For the Job Seeker Part 2: The Interview And The Audition

Job Seeker
By Michael Cassera

Hopefully, you’ve read For The Job Seeker: Part 1, and your resume has scored you an interview. Congratulations! Now what?

Part 2: The Interview and the Audition

1. That first impression is important

I, for one, am not looking for a suit and tie because that’s not our kind of work attire. You should be presentable, though. If you’ve just come off of a work call to be at the interview, and that’s why you’re wearing your blacks, let me know. I can appreciate the crazy schedules we have when we’re hustling for work, and I take that into consideration. Be wary, though, as not all hiring managers will understand. If in doubt, I’d recommend slacks and a button-down shirt.

2. The first person you meet may be the person interviewing you.

This is not always the case, but when I conduct interviews, my assistant or I greet the candidate. We engage in small talk as we work our way to wherever the interview is being held. Hopefully, this puts our candidates at ease. That said, even though we haven’t yet begun the formal interview, these interactions matter. We can’t help but think about the crew’s dynamics and the ways in which a candidate might, or might not, fit.

After sitting down, I begin the formal interview by talking about the position for which you are applying. This ensures that there is no confusion about the open position. Next, from a prepared sheet, I ask a number of questions ranging from quick technical questions to more complex and open-ended inquiries. While I sometimes jump around, I like to begin by asking candidates to take five minutes to tell me how they got to this point. I am interested in their story.

Their path in this industry will tell me a lot about who they are as a technician and a potential crew member.

3. The questions

I ask a lot of technical questions. Rarely does anyone know all of the answers. In fact, I don’t expect them to know all of the answers. Try not to get flustered when you’re hit with something that you don’t know. Think of the interview as an assessment, not a judgement.

I expect somebody applying for a follow spot/technician position, to know basic electricity/wiring, how to work a multimeter, at least a bit of DMX information, and be able to describe the type of equipment they’ve worked on, for example. If a candidate includes that they’ve worked on Vari*Lites in their resume, I’ll ask what kind of work they’ve done. Be honest with your answers. I will know when you’re trying to bluff your way through. The questions are designed for this test. Your chance of getting a job are reduced significantly if a hiring manager suspects dishonestly.

When it comes to the more open-ended questions, be wary of responding with canned answers, those which you might find in a book that advertises the best answers to the toughest questions. If the response a candidate gives me sounds canned to them, it’s likely that it will sound canned to me, as well. Preparing for an interview isn’t the same as scripting an interview, and the latter runs the risk of sounding insincere.

Like most hiring managers, I’m looking for a person with a balance of aptitude and attitude.

A candidate may know everything there is to know about lighting, but if they have a bad attitude, I pass them up in a New York minute!

4. Know that not everyone who has had an interview gets an audition.

In fact, it’s pretty rare. At my theatre, the audition is a time for my lead follow spot operator to assess the skills of the applicant as well as their attitude. Our show, for example, is in the round, the lead and the applicant will be on opposite sides of the theatre and communicating via comm. We allocate thirty minutes per audition, but the session will be as long or as short as needed for the lead spot to make an assessment. An experienced follow spot operator should be able to get through the process fairly easily. If I have done my job right, only experienced spot operators have made it to this point. They will understand that, in our room, we often run our follow spots at a low level with a soft focus. The stage is also a projection surface, so the operator will be dealing with a lot of bounce. The candidate should know how to handle these elements.

The process takes time, several weeks or more from job posting to job filled. This isn’t unusual for large venues. Patience is important. Constant inquiries about the position after the interview will not increase your chances of landing the job.

Let’s recap. As covered in Part I, when applying for a job, make sure your resume is pertinent to the position. Next, be prepared for the interview, but don’t give canned answers and don’t try to bluff your way through questions of which you don’t know the answers. Then, if you’re offered an audition, remember that, like the people on stage, you are performing. You must have the necessary skills. Finally, don’t forget the importance of attitude in addition to aptitude. I can’t stress this enough! We, for example, have a large crew for the show, which comes with a lot of different personalities. Candidates must fit the dynamic.

With that, good luck on your next job search!

Return to For The Job Seeker: Part 1


Also by Michael Cassera:

Losing The Cord: Converting From AC to DC

DMX Demystified

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