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Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Award Winning Interviewing

“All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”-  William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare might not having had the job market in mind specifically when writing those famous words 500 years ago, but his advice rings true today as it did back then. 
Everything in this life is performance.
And our experiences in the workplace are no exception. We put on our game face each day for meetings, pitches, and budget assessments.
And nowhere is this performance aspect of life more evident then in the gauntlet-esque arena known as the job interview.
Rather get your teeth pulled than do a job interview?
You know the scenario well: The sweaty palms, the familiar response of faint and fall.  It is not pleasant.
But like auditions in an acting job, interviewing is an unavoidable and crucial aspect to your success in your chosen profession. The better you get at them the better you will do in your career. And like auditions, you might want to consider how you can improve your performance in job interviews by taking advice from an actor and the art of auditioning: It is a crossover knowledge well worth looking into.

Why is this?

Actors are the most continuously rejected people on the planet. While the average person will do 10 job interviews in their life, actors sometimes do ten a month! That's a lot of accumulated knowledge. So to break from the traditional boring HR advice about job interviewing I asked the advice on the art of auditioning from 30 year old actress Natasha, who, together with having acted in numerous film, TV and stage productions, also happens to be a graduate from a professional theatre school and has over ten years of audition experience.
Let's have some fun: here are her tips on helping you nail your next job interview from an actor's perspective.
 You are braver than you think
First of all it is totally normal to feel nervous before a big performance, which come to think of it, that is what a job interview is.   What you have to remember is that most actors which you see on the silver screen, on commercials, on stage, are actually extremely self conscious, shy people, who in real life come across as quite meek. Russel Crowe is one such actor. In fact that's why many actors get into acting so they can explore and express their inner extrovert. There's no difference with you! So you can't say that your too shy anymore now. Remember, you are braver than you think and you can surprise yourself by coming out of your shell at any time.
Before the interview
Breath. Avoid other interviewers like the plague, and find a quiet space to let go.
 In acting school we were given many techniques to calm down before performances. By doing this you keep the excitement of performing while giving yourself some self control. Before the interview deeply breath in from your belly on a four count and breath out at a four count, continue this as many times as it takes to get that calm feeling. Also avoid other interviewees, nervousness is contagious like the plague. And if you can find a quiet place to sit before you go in do so: sit comfortably and starting with your toes, work all the way through your body consciously releasing tension physically and mentally. Do not move on from a body part until it is totally relaxed. This one is hard to do but really works.
Remember the interviewer is also nervous and working
When I was a young actress I used to really undervalue myself thinking I had to be the scared one in the room. But one day I realized that the people interviewing are also working, stressed out, with deadlines, bosses and things to worry about. This perception shift puts you in a mutual drivers seat with the interviewer and can boost your confidence incredibly, which is what in the end, they are looking for.
Rehearse and then let go
Learning lines for auditions is the hardest thing to do. So consider yourself lucky that you don't have set lines for job interviews. But with that said you might want to rehearse a little before hand anyway. Write out a paragraph about yourself, give great responses, then throw the piece of paper away and let it go, go in fresh and ready to flow.
During the Interview
In the interview: First Impressions are key , be yourself, smile, wear something blue and something nice.
 Job interviews are usually 80% made or missed in the first three to five minutes(auditions in the first three minutes).
First impressions are key. It is all about what you can transmit to people, and the bottom line in an interview is: Do I like this person .

Some tips: smile, be naturally friendly, wear becoming clothes and in general be shining. This is less about what you know and your skills, and more about who you are as a person.   Also wear blue, it is a great color, most people's favorite on average, and it represents calm and peace. Above all else be yourself. People as a general rule don't like phonies.
After the interview
Treat Yourself.
Some advice I was given that I find really calms me down and  me gets me over the stress of interviewing. I plan to treat myself after every audition. So if I have one downtown I pick a dessert place nearby that I really like and get excited about that. My love for chocolate trumps my nervousness every time. Try it for you job interviews.
And lastly....
Have Fun
Okay this is my favorite and the biggest secret weapon in my arsenal. Life is all about having fun. When you play you're relaxed, open, all good things are coming to you. As soon as you feel the crunch is on, you freeze, and what happens, your performance suffers. I use to hate auditions, but after doing so many of them, at one point I stopped getting nervous. Then I decided to just go for it and have fun.
Time to Shine
 So there you have it from Natasha, and if you want to explore the connection between auditions and job interviews, there is a myriad amount of source material available online about acting. There are also acting workshops in your local area designed specifically for non actors. It might be worth it to get out of your comfort zone and just break out of your shell and let your inner thespian shine. So here’s to nailing you next job interview: Break a leg!

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