College Advice Blog

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Nov 15, 2012

What to Expect from a Performing Arts Interview


From dancers to actors, seasoned performing artists have become skilled at the art of auditioning. Their aim is to receive a callback and land the gig. Whether it is a Broadway play, a major motion picture or a choreography job – many professionals will also conduct an interview. Sometimes these interviews can take place before or after the audition, other times they are a standalone event that occurs separately. The exact process will vary by employer, venue and discipline. However, each hiring professional is looking for someone who can bring their training and life experience to the role. Learning what to expect from a performing arts interview is essential to building a lasting career in the performing arts.


Audition Interview vs. Standalone

There are two primary types of interviews that are prevalent in the performing arts world – the audition interview and the standalone interview. While they share many similarities, understanding the differences is crucial in learning what to expect.
  • Audition Interview According to the Dennis Nahat, artistic director at a prevalent performing arts school, auditioning is the most important element in the performing arts world. He also states that the accompanying interview is crucial. This type of interview is perhaps the most familiar to performing artists. This interview will typically take place immediately before or after the audition. It will usually consist of only a few questions. The aim of this brief interview is to try to gain a deeper understanding of who you are as a whole and what you’ll bring to the production. Most performing arts colleges will prepare students for these types of interviews.
  • Standalone Interview The standalone interview takes place after the audition. The hiring director already knows you have the skill, now they want to make sure you are a good fit for the company. While the audition showcases your skill, the interview showcases the rest of your personality. Nahat states that this type of interview will typically occur later when you’ve received a callback.

How to Nail the Interview

Nailing the interview relies on being completely honest with every answer. The exact questions will vary by hiring director and industry, but they all have the same underlying intent. Below are common questions an interviewer will be asking themselves during your interview:
  • Will this person be fun to work with? Pass this test by maintaining an upbeat attitude throughout your answers. When they ask about previous work experience, or why you left a previous company, ensure you provide an honest and positive answer. Avoid discussing any negative reasons or complaints about former employers.
  • Can they put in the hours required? This is perhaps the most straightforward element of the interview. The interviewer will typically provide a breakdown of the expected hours and ask if you can handle them. Instead of only saying yes, provide examples of other shows with similar requirements that you were able to satisfy.
  • Are they positive and open to suggestions? Nobody wants to work with an artist that reacts poorly to critique. Finding out if you are open to suggestions may be done by providing you with critique on your audition and observing your reactions. Cultivate a mindset that is open to feedback to ensure lasting success in the performing arts industry.
  • Are they truly passionate about our industry? Some performing artists are seeking fame or fortune with little interest in the actual industry. The hiring manager will attempt to uncover your true goals for pursuing the job. They want to work with someone that is passionate about their discipline, not someone looking for the spotlight.
  • What have they done lately and is it relevant? This straightforward question will be asked early on in most interviews.  Be sure to provide any relevant work experience, along with dates. They want to confirm that you are actively seeking work and that previous jobs have prepared you for their job.

You Can Land the Job

Landing a performing arts job is dependent upon having skill in your chosen discipline and passing the interview. Embody a sense of honesty and optimism to be well-prepared for the interview. Do not memorize pre-planned answers to questions. Instead, be aware of the common goals of an interviewer and how you can meet them.

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Andy Minster is a contributing writer and emerging actor. He has appeared in numerous plays and television spots, and one day hopes to teach drama.
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