This blog post is part of a series I am titling Free Time, to help me organize my thoughts around a talk I will be giving in a few weeks.
I don't know if I will ever truly wrap my head around the idea of job interviews and performance-based auditions. Because of my involvement with Fringe, I have attended some cattle-call style auditions where we the producers watched random auditions from dozens of performers for each of our respective shows. This is a little like viewing the video resume of each of these prospects, except you can ask them questions at the end, or ask them to do a stage fall or sing a few bars of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" or what have you. But that is for putting together a staged performance, where raw talent and "look" go a a long way. I was auditioning people for improv, where raw talent counts but teamwork is everything. Herein lies my core problem with one-on-one job interviews - how do you know if this person is a good team player just by speaking to them?
I have been on my own job hunt recently, and I'm proud to say I accepted a position that is exactly what I need right now. I have spent so long gazing at my own navel from a professional standpoint that I really need some time working with a team, engaging in best practices and working on much bigger projects than I could land on my own. This company is also large enough (and growing) that I hope to be able to have more than one job title during my tenure there.
Meet Blink Reaction:
Blink is a Drupal agency based in New Jersey, between Princeton and Long Branch (which is where my parents lived when I was born), and only about an hour drive from the place where my entire extended family lives. Many of their hires about 2 years ago came from Acquia, where they are now one of the most active Acquia Partners. They work with governments, record labels, higher ed, and other mega-corporations, all of whom tend to come with repeat business. Enter their large and growing team of developers, and me, who is one of the on-the-ground types.
Back to my original thread, how do you know how it is to work with someone if all you did was talk to them for an hour?
When we auditioned for The 39 Steps and CraigsLust, we had an interactive interview. It's improv. Particularly a long-form show with a relatively small cast. Seeing how they work together was of the utmost importance. We actually had 2 and 3 of these "working auditions" in order to give people a chance to play, unwind, learn to work together, or just show us how far raw talent and experience can take you. At one audition, we had a couple of ringers, and it was very tempting to cast them and say we were re-working the show to have fewer parts with stronger players. It's really hard to make that decision in the heat of the moment with all those bright shining faces looking at you. Today, I have no regrets, but I sometimes wonder "what if".
That being said, I knew I had 2 returning cast members, and I knew I could give them parts with no reservations, I had worked with them, there was a group dynamic, between each of them and me, and that comfort gives a director more room to reach farther.
Now I learn in my new job that once you assemble a team, the instinct is to keep them together from one project to the next. That's smart. Even tough you could reassemble teams each time, it helps to have the rapport, the internal audition has already taken place. It makes sense, and I wouldn't expect less of a company who has been successful thus far.
We'll see how deep the rabbit hole goes, another day. For now, I have to get back to work!
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