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Article by Michael Hoyle
Here are my top 8 tips for winning at interviews!!!
The really important information is the basic info. If you haven’t shown the initiative to do at least the obvious then you won’t get the job. Simple as that.
Some examples for researching a theatre:
- Obtain a clear understanding of the venue, such as capacity and the available facilities
- Research the current programme of events and previous event programmes – has the venue shifted trajectory? Is it under new artistic direction? etc.
- Read the mission and vision statements – What are the venue goals and how can you make them happen?
- Is the role a new role? If so, why? What is the organisation hoping to achieve? E.g. Marketing intern – to engage a younger audience (see mission and vision statements)
- Has the venue recently received investment? If so, where from and what is it for?
- Who works there? Know the people and faces who are likely to be on the panel. E.g. Artistic Director, Theatre Manager, Marketing Manager, etc.
- Visit the venue for a first-hand experience. Judge it for yourself – but don’t point out faults in the operation of the venue during an interview. You can, however, randomly suggest areas you like to give special focus to. For example: the show you saw went up late = “In my previous employment, I focused special attention on ensuring the customer experience was outstanding, such as ensuring the audience are in and seated, and the show commences and finishes at the time stated”.
2. The job description and criteria
Most good adverts and descriptions will list the desired attributes for the role. It may state in the description that certain criteria are essential and others are desirable. It may also state that some are expected at the application stage and others at the interview stage.
This is the marking criteria for the panel of interviewers. Your aim should be to tick as many of these as possible. If you’re through to the interview stage, you should presume that your application is now superseded by your interview, this means that your essential and desirable attributes should be reinforced during your interview. Basically, remind the panel of all those amazing things you wrote on the application.
3. First impression – Appearance
Plan ahead! Prep your outfit the night before.
Dress smart, always. Avoid wedding smart, it’s business smart we’re looking for. That means dragging your old go-to wedding suit out the wardrobe isn’t quite going to cut it. Think sharp/business/professional.
In my opinion, this goes for any role, whether that the Managing Director or an apprentice in stage management – show that you can look the part when you need to.
Make sure your outfit fits. And protect it before the interview; that means no coffee or breakfast stains and no car seatbelt creases.
4. First impression – Introduction
Entering the room is more than just that, it tells the panel so much about you. Stand straight, breathe, then go. Practice your walk. Don’t rush. The few seconds it takes you to approach the panel should be calm. Take that time to assess the people in front of you and establish who is who. The most influential may not be sat centrally.
Personally, I would always start from the nearest side and introduce yourself with a good firm handshake and eye contact. Take a second with each member of the panel and engage with them. Don’t jump along the line in a frenzy of crossed over handshakes and confusion.
Think about your handshake – it really is important and says a lot about you. Weak, flimsy grips come across lazy. Too firm and you look like you’re trying to be the top dog.
5. Practice makes perfect
This is a controversial one.
A mentor once told me that they regularly applied for jobs and went through the interview process… as practice.
Apply for jobs even if you don’t think you’re qualified. Use this as a regular practice and ask for feedback from the panel after each one.
There really isn’t better training than actually being interviewed. This way, when that desirable post finally comes up, the interview process is a well rehearsed one.
6. Body Language
Body language is so important. From the moment you walk in the room to the moment you leave, you should have a good posture, make eye contact and don’t fidget.
Watch this video, it explains body language far better than I can.
7. Offer more than the competition
I’ve been in so many interviews in which we’ve allowed 30-45 minutes and it’s been wrapped up in 10-15 minutes. They were not necessarily bad interviews but the answers may have been rushed. Take your time and connect with the interviewers on the panel. Be the person they remember at the end of the day.
Be comprehensive. Don’t miss anything out that you will regret later. You have time to talk and engage with your panel.
8. Your exit
This is as important as the entrance. You want the panel to remember you above any other applicant.
Same as your entrance, take a moment to say goodbye and shake hands. If you remember names, use them. Tell them that it’s been a great experience.
Someone will likely show you out – don’t express your relief until you are well away from the building. Ripping the tie off or swearing are definite ‘NO’s’. The person showing you out may seem more relaxed and natural with you, but they may still discuss you with the panel.
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