This post originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse.
Most actors know that auditions are like job interviews, but I’m not sure how many non-actors realize that the reverse is also true. Since a wannabe performer might go on more auditions in a year than most people will go on job interviews in a lifetime, the tips, tricks, and techniques that follow, which are the same ones I teach my acting students, should be invaluable for helping non-actors successfully negotiate the challenges of any job interview they might face.
#1 Not getting the job is NOT a statement of your value, worth, or even your marketability. (If you get only one thing from this article, please let it be this!)
In the same way that actors can mistakenly question the level of their talent when faced with some failure to land roles, job applicants can mistakenly question their sense of self-worth when faced with a dearth of job offers. But you MUST keep in mind that any selection process, especially one that ends in the choosing of just one final candidate from among many, is at least as much a matching game as it is a talent contest. That means that just because a handful of people determine that you are not the best fit for their company does not mean that you lack value as a candidate in the job market at large, or even for their company. In fact, if you were invited in for more than one interview then they saw value in your qualifications and considered you a viable candidate, so be buoyed by that success. Regardless, however, you should proceed with a clear understanding that there are two very distinct parts to the task you are facing: the first, which is completely within your purview, is your ability to present yourself well on paper and in person as an adequately trained and fully qualified candidate; the second part of the task, which is completely out of your hands, is for the decision makers to select not necessarily the smartest nor most skilled candidate, but the one whom they believe will be the best fit for the position, the team, and the company from among all the people they see. Sounds like a rough task, right? More importantly, it should sound like one that says much less about you personally than you might have believed.
If #1 is true, then your only option is this…
#2 Face every interview with a clear objective that is within your purview.
Look, most of us have been conditioned to shoot for the wrong thing. Loved ones send us out the door armed with well wishes to “get the job,” and we rally positive thoughts and even visualizations about the very same thing. But just like an actor can only “get” the callback, you can only “get” the interview, and once you’ve done that you have already been successful. After that it is up to the hirers to pick whom they believe to be the best match, so you can’t “get” the job, which means that making that your goal sets you up for disappointment and failure. Even worse, it prevents you from formulating, aspiring to, and, more importantly, achieving a truer and more attainable goal, such as “showing them how much I bring to the table” or “presenting my very best self” or “helping them see how well suited I am to this position.” Making this mental adjustment may require a real paradigm shift on your part, but it will be one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. In addition, you may be surprised to see how pursuing a more accurate objective may yield better results.
#3 Be honest with yourself about who you authentically are as an employee.
Audition notices typically contain brief descriptions of the roles being cast. Inevitably, there is a female role that calls for a “gorgeous, model type.” I always thought it would be nice to fit that description, but that was never me. Even today as a voiceover actor with great range and versatility, I know where I “live,” and so I focus on auditions that seek what I can successfully deliver. As a job seeker, particularly if you are unemployed and facing financial pressures and concerns, it can be difficult to remain calm and keep desperation at bay, but if you can see yourself accurately and apply for positions that match how the rest of the world views you, as opposed to how you wished they viewed you, you will have a better chance of identifying opportunities that might lead to your being deemed the best fit for the job.
That doesn’t mean you should be selective about throwing your hat in the ring. In fact…
#4 Finding a job is a numbers game, so the more you get out there the better your odds will be.
Whether you are an auditioning actor or a prospective accountant, the best you can ever hope for is even odds, and the truth is that there will rarely, if ever, be a time that the only candidates for a role or a job are you and one other person. As soon as a third person is introduced, mathematically the odds are now against you. (You accountants already calculated that, didn’t you?) Do not be discouraged by that, rather just know it to be so, and act accordingly. Be like the people who buy a handful of extra Powerball tickets when the jackpot soars in order to decrease their odds from one in a gazillion to five in a gazillion. It may not be much of an edge, but it still does enhance their chances, and there’s something worth emulating in that kind of optimism and enthusiasm. So, if you want to be the one, single candidate who is ultimately offered the job, be industrious, believe in yourself, and improve your chances by going on as many interviews as you can.
#5 Try and enjoy the process.
You’re laughing at me now, aren’t you? I know that for most people, interviews, like auditions, are some combination of terrifying, torturous, trying, and tiresome. But they needn’t be. Truly. After all, they provide you with an opportunity to speak well about yourself, what you know, and that which you enjoy and do well. They are also the means toward your ultimate goal. Like with Powerball, you gotta be in it to win it. So if you are going to do it anyway, you might as well do it joyfully. That joy, combined with an accurate and steady sense of self-worth, a clear and achievable goal heading into your interview, and a good number of opportunities should help you land a new job soon enough.
Good luck and break a leg!