I have interviewed 80 stage managers in the past eight months, and recently had a couple of “hey, can you help me hire an sub/asm/replacement” situations arise.
I’ve gotten a couple of emails after the fact, asking, basically, “why didn't I get the job?”.
Here’s a couple of the major reasons why a candidate may not get the gig.
1) Experience – when a stage manager is being hired, their experience is being rented . . . I am trying to get as much experience for my buck as possible.
2) Wrong kind of experience – even the best stage manager may not have the experience I am looking for – no musicals, no big teams, no classical theater – all have had me put a resume aside for someone else.
3) Bad Interview – just as I can rant that many GMs/Production Managers don’t know how to interview FOR a SM position, there are some SM’s who don’t know how to be interviewed.
4) Wrong Personality – I joke all the time that a monkey with a lap top could sometimes do our job, but it has the right personality. If I am looking to fill a position, I need someone who I can spend 80 hours a week with, and a lot of those hours I am going to be stressed, tired, frustrated . . .
5) Wrong for the Team – I am looking to put together a team, and I tend to look at who is already in the team, the skill sets / personality of the team already in place – I am looking to complement those skills. I don’t want a team of all people exactly like me . . . first off, that would be horrifying . . . second off, I have my skill set, I need people with other strengths or weaknesses.
6) Over Qualified – as I wrote before – I have had some VERY bad experiences with taking a risk on an over qualified candidate. I avoid it all costs.
7) Union Experience – I tend to want to make sure when I am hiring someone they have had a couple of shows on that union contract.
Degrees of Separation – I have had tremendous luck and positive experience when being handing a team, or working with new people – but I will always tend to move towards candidates either I know, or someone I know recommends. It’s about knowing people work well with my style – but it also about just knowing that person is good person. (There are some not so nice stage managers out there)
9) Wrong Reason for Wanting the Job – sometimes a candidate will give me a reason for wanting the job that sends out warning signals to me . . . if a stage manager seems desperate to work on the show, I get very worried – or if they seem like FANATIC in anyway (I REALLY WANT TO WORK WITH THIS ACTOR, THIS DIRECTOR, THIS COMPANY) I get nervous.
10) Recommendations – if there is any hesitation a recommendation gives me on a candidate . . .I will usually move on.
11) Wrong Person – sometimes I know I want a team that has diversity – I want to make sure I have a diverse team. I lost a job early in my career because of my gender . . . I mean it was a long shot, but the PSM didn’t want to end up with an all-male SM team, if the female first had said yes, I would have gotten the second position – sadly, a male first was hired.
12) Lies on Resume – that one speaks for yourself.
13) Missing critical skills – two PA resumes in front of me, one knows Final Draft, one does not – the projects is a new play by a playwright who is using Final Draft – I am going to lean towards the PA who has proven experience in Final Draft.
14) Social Media Savvy – if I am on a fence about a candidate – I do check out social media – if that candidate has bad mouthed other SM’s, complained about their shows, and showed poor judgment in the past . . . hard to hire them.
15) Where you live – two choices of equal talent – one is local, one requires housing – why not hire local?
16) Bad Resume – if your resume is too far of the professional acceptable format, I wonder how off you are in other paperwork
Basically, I think, there is a myth that any SM can SM anything . . . and that’s not really the case – SM is a very tricky job, and when you are under the pressure of finding the right person for the right job, there are many red flags that might be the signal for you to pass on applicant.