On Interviewing and Audition(ing)

So there I was, waiting by the phone, had been waiting for half an hour (doing research and going back over my application letter), and outside the window—

Outside the window is a beautiful scene.  The morning light rubs transparency through the fall leaves, emphasizing the varied colors that – with the more diffuse light of day – blend into a yellowish green.

Yes, I know that no one wants to wake up early for an 8:15 am phone interview, but sometimes one just has to suffer for one’s art, if one’s art involves teaching and it is job season and a prospective employer asks for a phone interview at 8:15 in the morning.  I see-saw no circular logic there.

But as I was sitting there, cellphone to the side of my computer, the tiny device being watched as though it’s a dangerous animal, I realized where I’d seen this scene before.  Takashi Miike’s Audition.

I watched this movie with Kelly a number of years ago at Rice University and I have to say that it is one of the few horror movies I’ve seen that has truly horrified me.  Do I think it is a good movie?  I don’t know.  I know that it’s well made, and that it’s effective, but I’m not sure that I can recommend it to anyone.  Also, it’s very, very disturbing.

Interviewing is also very, very disturbing.  But I digress.  Here’s a picture.


There is a scene in Audition where the main female character (who is also the villain) is waiting for our hero (in the classification sense, not called so because he is especially heroic) to call her and it is clear – through her utter motionlessness and the barren landscape of her apartment – that she has been sitting in that same position for hours, lying in wait like a predator, for that one phone call.

Not a comforting comparison to make, especially before the interview has begun.

In many ways I find phone interviews more nerve-wracking than in-person interviews.  In the flesh, at least, you have the cues of the body to read reactions from and the physical presence of others to make the experience seem more real, both of which intimate camaraderie (even though both you and the interviewers know that, most likely, this camaraderie only has that thirty-minute lifespan).

On the phone, I think there’s more of a tendency to ramble (since you can’t pick up the signs of disinterest from facial expressions and posture) and also to feel like you are speaking into a void (imagine a large empty cave that doesn’t even provide the security of an echo).  In that way, a phone interview is somewhat like writing this blog.


Do I have the job?

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3 Responses to On Interviewing and Audition(ing)

  1. Brendan says:

    Late advice, but file it away. When I was interning at a PR firm, I got to take some continuing ed classes as part of the job, so I did a session with one of their media consultants, the equivalent of what you get when you train to do interviews if you work for a big company.

    Most of the experience is lost to absent memory, but I do remember that when you’re doing a phone interview, the tenor and quality of your voice changes –usually for the better–if you’re standing. I stand for all my phone interviews now.

    Good luck!

  2. Andrew says:

    In theory, I knew this. In practice, I was cold, groggy, and taking notes/looking at my computer re: application materials while talking.

    My voice definitely had that “Perhaps you should sit down for this” quality.

  3. Dennis says:

    Reading this entry at the beach (we’ve just returned from a half hour in the cold gale along the strand) I had an insight. Consider using SKYPE for phone interviews. That would at least give the participants the opportunity to see facial expressions. In my experience nothing will approach the full monty of the in-the-flesh experience, but SKYPE would be a start.

    Your Mom suggests that you “smile” while speaking.

    So to sum up including the suggestion from Brendan, stand and smile on SKYPE for phone interviews.


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