Author Topic: advice on interviewing  (Read 5421 times)

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stagemonkey

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advice on interviewing
« on: Jul 10, 2007, 12:57 pm »
So I recently got some feedbac from one of my references on my resume saying that my interviewing is not so great.  So I need some advice on how to improve on the interviewing part of the process.  So I was wondering for those out there who actually interview prospective SM's and ASM's what kind of questions do you like to hear asked of you in an interview?  What do you like to see from a person at the face to face interview? 

For those out there that keep going to interviews what kind of questions do you tend to ask?  How do you prepare yourself for an interview?

Thanks,

Jason

lauria

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Re: advice on interviewing
« Reply #1 on: Jul 10, 2007, 04:07 pm »
I was thinking about posting something along those lines, so I'm glad that you did!

The question I've been thinking about lately is "What is your best SM moment" and it's even tricksier counter-part "What is your worst SM moment" because I think that those are kind of standard questions - looking for strengths and weaknesses. On my first interview I managed to turn them both into strength answers by explaning what the worst moment was and then explaining how I rose above it...

MatthewShiner

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Re: advice on interviewing
« Reply #2 on: Jul 10, 2007, 06:31 pm »
It seems I spend a lot of time interviewing people.

Here's the secret . . . about 90% of the time, if I am calling you in for an interview, I think you can do the job - either based on resume, references, my calling people who might know you, etc.  I think you have the basic skill set to do the job.  The rest is about personality.  I can tell within about ten minutes if you are in the right line of work . . . I don't know.  Something about the way you carry yourself, answer questions, look me in the eye.  The bottom line to this job is it is MANAGEMENT, you have to have those basic skill sets of a manager. 

I interview for two types of positions; AEA and Non-AEA (PA/Intern) positions.  Obviously I am give more leeway to Non-AEA canidates when applying, since they have the most varied background.

If you are applying for an Equity position, these are some great starter questions:

1)   What contract is this under?  Are there any concessions?
2)   Specific Calendar Questions – rehearsal, tech, previews, run? 
3)   Specific Questions regarding understudies – do you have them, who rehearses them, when do they rehearse?
4)   Specific Questions regarding facilities and equipment – where do you rehearse, access to office, computer, supplies?
5)   Specific show related questions – cast size, info on director, design team, level of automation, how big is the crew, etc, etc.  Typical rehearsal span of days, tech, etc – are all good.
6)   And then, if I am interviewing an assistant, I love questions like “What do you expect of me?”  “What would your ideal assistant be like?”  Anything that gets me talking about what I am looking for that can lead to you talking more about yourself.

Be careful – there are dumb questions.  Be careful about asking anything that undercuts what you are trying to present.  If you are presenting yourself as a professional stage manager, be careful about asking something that undercuts.  Do your homework on the theatre company.  Talk to people who have worked there.  Come in excited about the project.

When you are applying for a non-AEA position, the field is wide open for questions – there are not set guidelines, so asking about how long your work week is valid.  (I hate when AEA stage managers ask this question – it’s in the freaking rule book.).  But again, I give a lot more freedom.

Now, as far as what questions to expect from me when you sit down.  I don’t want to tell you – my whole goal is throw you off you kilter, make you a little uncomfortable, see who you really are and what your personality it.  I just finished filling positions for a 20 week contract.  20 WEEKS of working with people – my number goal is to make sure I can spend 10 hours a day with you for six days a week for 20 weeks.  It’s all about your personality.  I will ask questions to feel out your sense of humor, how you work under stress, how you deal with kid actors, actors who are older then your grandparents, what you are like at 9:00a, what you are like at midnight, what your favorite coffee drink is, what your favorite booze is, what do you parents do, why you chose this town to live, best SM moment, worst SM moment – it’s all about getting to know who you really are.

THE NUMBER ONE THING TO REMEMBER: Relax and be yourself.  Put forward the type of person you are when you are working in the interview.  If you are more relaxed and laid back, that is fine.  If you are more uptight and type A, then that’s okay as well.  I am usually trying to put together a team, and I want to balance personality types.

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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

ljh007

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Re: advice on interviewing
« Reply #3 on: Jul 11, 2007, 08:08 am »
Wow - after such an excellent list of tips from Matthew, I can only think of one thing to add...

I have seen many young interviewers ramble and eventually end up saying something silly because they couldn't stop themselves from just talking during the interview. While this is basically fine - we know you're nervous and trying to make the best impression - I would strongly recommend that you practice interviewing ahead of time. Practice with a friend or family member. Practice answering the question - honestly, fully, and with friendly candor - and then stop talking. You'll come off as more polished and professional. And you might even save yourself from having that post-interview "Why on earth did I just say that" agony. In general, this gets better with age and as you go through the hundreds of interviews in your career. But I've pointed this out to a few people who have asked me for advice, and usually they know that they have a tendency to ramble, they just needed someone to point it out and tell them how to stop.

KMC

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Re: advice on interviewing
« Reply #4 on: Jul 11, 2007, 08:36 am »
I think a big point to hit on is honesty.  Don't oversell yourself and don't promise something you can't deliver.  The worst thing you want to happen is to get into a situation where you can't deliver what you said you can.  This leaves you looking bad, and leaves the company needing to fill a hole.

Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

stagemonkey

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Re: advice on interviewing
« Reply #5 on: Jul 11, 2007, 06:43 pm »
MatthewShiner I can totally understand you not wanting to give out questions you asked.  It makes perfect sense.  I do appreciate the input one it.  I really appreciate the questions you presented of what I can ask as the one being interviewed.  While I am not equity at this time I can see how some of them can still be used as a way to find more information and to help show I am interested in the project. 

And ljh007, I've been there and done that, babbled on and said something stupid.  You also gave the same advice my one reference gave me when he told me i was sucking at the interviews and that was to practice interviewing with a friend. 

Now not to change the subject too greatly as I still wish to hear what others have to say about questions you like to hear the person you're interviewing ask I'd also like to know what you're thoughts are if someone came into an interview with you with a pad of paper with a list of questions about the job and to take notes throughout the interview. 

Mac Calder

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Re: advice on interviewing
« Reply #6 on: Jul 11, 2007, 07:56 pm »
Some people like notepads and pens - others don't.

If you do take a notepad/pen in, make sure it is in a nice folder (ie a leather compendium) and your pen is a decent "business" pen (you know, the ones that cost about AU$20, are usually either black with gold trim or silver). Your compendium is also a good place to store an extra couple of copies of your resume.

For a stage manager to come with a notepad and pen to an interview always gives me a good vibe though - as I know when stage managing that keeping a notepad and pen on you makes your life so much easier.

MatthewShiner

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Re: advice on interviewing
« Reply #7 on: Jul 11, 2007, 09:15 pm »
Possible SM interview questions
(Although I have used some of these, I think these cover the basis for the basic round of questions.)

Be careful about memorizing any answer, as the interviewer may throw you  curve ball.  Be aware, be alert, and be honest.  You can't ask for anything more.


1.   Why do you work in theatre?
2.   Why stage management?
3.   Have you ever acted?
4.   What other areas of theatre have you worked in?
5.   Are you PC based or Mac?
6.   What is the largest show you have worked on? 
7.   What is the most complicated show you have worked on?
8.   What’s the biggest SM team you have worked with?
9.   Have you ever worked on a musical?  A classical play?
10.   How are you at dealing with difficult/demanding directors?  Give examples.
11.   How do you deal with conflict between actors during run?
12.   What directing experience do you have?  Do you have experience in maintaining long running shows?
13.   What sort of automation have you had in shows you have teched and called?
14.   What level of automation do you feel comfortable with?
15.   What are your strongest points as a stage manager?
16.   What are your weakest points as a stage manager?
17.   If a rooster laid a egg on a top of west-facing barn, what are the chances it will fall on the east side of the barn?
18.   Where do you see yourself in five years?
19.   Why are you applying at this theatre?
20.   What time of supervision do you require? 
21.   What is your management style?
22.   How do you see the role of stage management in the creative process?  What do you personally enjoy about that process?
23.   If one train left Chicago going 100 miles an hour, and another train left New York going 150 miles an hour, at which city they pass each other?
24.   What is your worse stage management experience?
25.   What is your favorite stage management experience?
26.   How do you like to tech a show?
27.   What do you like to do in your spare time?
28.   How do you like to communicate with your design staff?
29.   Why are manhole covers round?
30.   What is your experience managing interns?  Production assistants?  Other Stage Managers?
31.   Describe your ideal manager for yourself.
32.   What are three qualities you think are most important for a stage manager to have?
33.   How do you handle stress?
34.   Why do you want this job?
35.   Why do you think you will be a success in this job?  Define being a successful stage manager?
36.   If I were to declare it “ALPINE” day back stage, would you wear lederhosen or dirndl?
« Last Edit: Jul 11, 2007, 09:18 pm by MatthewShiner »
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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

Maribeth

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Re: advice on interviewing
« Reply #8 on: Jul 12, 2007, 12:03 am »
i like coming in with a list of questions- letting the person i'm interviewing with know what i already know about the company/project and what i'd like to know. i think it shows a certain level of interest in the position. i also think bringing a number of extra resumes is a good idea- i have often had an interviewer either ask for an extra copy because they misplaced it, or have another person sitting in on the interview who would like a copy.


also, a couple of basics in terms of preparing for an interview:

it sounds obvious, but dress up for it! it's like an interview for any other job- you shouldn't show up dressed inappropriately. don't wear flip-flops. wear something that looks nice and professional, but that you could wear if they take you on a tour of the theatre. i think there's a thread here somewhere about dressing professionally.

turn off your cell phone.

bring your calendar. if you are interviewing for a specific show or just in general for the company, you should know when you are available.

MatthewShiner

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Re: advice on interviewing
« Reply #9 on: Jul 12, 2007, 03:12 am »

also, a couple of basics in terms of preparing for an interview:

it sounds obvious, but dress up for it! it's like an interview for any other job- you shouldn't show up dressed inappropriately. don't wear flip-flops. wear something that looks nice and professional, but that you could wear if they take you on a tour of the theatre. i think there's a thread here somewhere about dressing professionally.



Again, be careeful about OVERDRESSING.  There is a fine line to walk.
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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

Jessie_K

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Re: advice on interviewing
« Reply #10 on: Jul 12, 2007, 08:14 pm »
Make sure you wear something you are comfortable in.  I used to try to wear "nicer" shoes or clothes to interviews, but then find myself worried about my heels or run in pantyhose or whatever.  Now I try to show a little style, but still look like/ feel like myself.

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