Every year, thousands of dancers from all around the nation line up to audition for the Fox series, So You Think You Can Dance. Their ultimate goal? To get “hired” as one of the season’s top 20 dancers. Each performer only has a few minutes to impress the judges not only with their talent but with their personality. If they succeed, they move on to the second round (Vegas). From there, it’s like a probationary period where everything they do is under scrutiny and in the end, only the very best get the job.
Dancers call it an audition, but it’s really no different than a job interview. Even though you probably won’t ever have to do a Reverse Fleckerl or Krump in order to win the job of your dreams, there are a few lessons you can learn from these competitive dancers.
Stand out in a good way
Every year, a handful of desperate dancers do crazy things in order to stand-out from the crowd. They show up in chicken suits, guys come dressed as girls and girls come dressed in barely-there bikinis. They perform routines that are clearly designed to make everyone laugh (and not in a good way) or they do crazy stunts and hurt themselves.
The truly memorable candidates are the ones that are humble, respond respectfully and put 100% into their dance. Those are the people who move on.
Speaking of chicken suits and bikinis. . . what you wear to an interview can make or break you. A dancer might be talented but the judges aren’t going to notice if they’re distracted by X-rated bulges or worried about an imminent wardrobe malfunction. Leave the provocative clothing at home along with the slogan t-shirts and the sloppy jeans. You don’t have to show up in a suit, but you should dress slightly better than what the current employees wear on an average day.
Don’t oversell yourself
When dancers audition with a very specific style, such as belly dancing or locking, the judges often ask if they’ve had training in other styles. They ask because on the show, the contestants might dance Latin Ballroom this week, lyrical the next, followed by a Bollywood number. They don’t expect everyone to come in fully trained, but they need to know if switching gears is going to throw you.
What do all of the contestants say when they’re asked this question? They say, “oh yes, I’ve been trained in everything.” Which is obviously a lie and that lie becomes painfully real when they go catatonic during the choreography round.
Tell the truth and trust your talent. They brought you in to interview for a reason, so unless you lied on your resume, your current skill level should be just fine.
Don’t burn your bridges
Last week, a young man with some talent auditioned for the show. The judges asked him to advance to the choreography and he politely declined. He expected to go straight through to Vegas and had decided ahead of time that he would take nothing less. He walked out crushing not only this chance but any future chance he might have of getting on the show.
It’s a small world and people who work inside an industry talk to each other. If an interviewer rubs you the wrong way, let it go and politely leave as soon as possible. If the HR manager calls to tell you they gave the job to someone else, be gracious, thank her for the opportunity and leave the door open for another day. You could get called back for another job or you might get a call from the CEO’s golf buddy because he’s looking for someone just like you.
For real life examples of how to make a good and a bad first impression during a job interview, watch So You Think You Can Dance, Tuesday at 8:00 on Fox.
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CR: Beth Dubber/FOX