February 10th, 2017 | Debbie Lamb, Sterling Talent Solutions

Five Parallels of Theater Casting and the Candidate Experience

Theater stage door

To quote one of the actors trying out for a role in a play in the musical, “A Chorus Line”: “Oh yeah: commercials. I almost got to squeeze a roll of toilet paper, but I lost out in the finals. Isn’t that something? Seventeen years in the business and I end up flunking toilet paper squeeze? And I was a dancing Band-Aid, that was fun.” The concept is shockingly relevant to anyone who’s ever applied for a job and really wanted it. In most cases, your typical job interview doesn’t include having to sing and dance!

There are many similarities of casting a role for a musical theater production and job interviews. Other than asking a candidate their age range or if they can tap dance, the questions during a casting call could end up being remarkably similar to asking questions of a candidate during a job interview. Come along, or should I say “sing-along,” with some Broadway classics and see their parallels to the job hiring experience.

  • Potential vs. Experience: “Nice Work If You Can Get It” Crazy for You, 1930

    There are two types of directors; ones who cast based on experience and ones who cast based on potential. Ever wondered how the next big Broadway star gets discovered? Not to discredit vastly experienced individuals, we can all agree that there are certain roles that need someone who’s sailed that ship before and can keep it moving on the right course. In both casting and hiring, it’s important to weigh the potential of a candidate versus their experience. It’s not always an easy call, but sometimes that diamond-in-the-rough candidate can surprise you, flourishing into a high-performing employee.

  • Don’t Settle: “There Will Be a Miracle” See What I Wanna See, 2005

    In any theater casting, there are countless hours of auditions, callbacks and readings from the script because, no surprise, directors want the best possible cast they can put together. What does that have to do with hiring? Don’t settle! This might mean tweaking your job listing slightly, raising the bar, the pay or whatever you’re capable of doing to find that perfect candidate. Too often a hiring manager will settle on one of their first few candidates, which can be dangerously limiting! Make sure that who you hire is who you want, not who you think you’re stuck with going forward.

  • The Fit Factor: “We Go Together” Grease, 1972

    A director might not cast someone if they know the actor is incredibly difficult to work with on stage or in rehearsals, in the same way, you might not hire someone based on a bad reference. In a study released by Harvard Business School, it was discovered that toxic workers, while often high-performing employees, might be costing a business more than they’re saving. The study also suggests that toxic work environments can be infectious, stating that workers in constant contact with a toxic employee are more likely to adopt similarly unhealthy habits. When it comes to hiring, the right fit should be a critical factor. When all your employees are happy, they will perform better as a group, which is far better than one high-performing employee and several dissatisfied ones.

  • You Will be Judged: “Know the Truth” Aida, 2000

    It doesn’t matter how badly an actor wants a role or how much they could get paid; if the production team rubs them in the wrong way, they won’t take the part. Put simply, if a potential new hire doesn’t think they would be happy working for your company, they won’t take the job. Remember: candidates rate the company and the hiring experience just as much as the hiring manager in an interview situation. If your employer brand is strong and true to your company culture, the previously mentioned fit factor will prevail.

  • The Job Offer: “It’s You” The Music Man, 1957

    Arguably one of the most rewarding parts of casting a show for a director or casting manager is calling up the actors and letting them know they got it. In hiring, the excitement of offering a candidate the job is equally satisfying. The advice here is straightforward: celebrate it! It’s always exciting to get new hires on board. Whether you treat them to lunch on their first day or a happy hour after work, there are plenty of ways to warmly welcome your new hires.

Just like the interaction between a theater cast and the director needs to be spot on to create a great production, positive candidate engagement needs to start from the beginning of the hiring process. Companies with highly engaged workers have higher rates of customer satisfaction and fewer errors. Learn more about how to transform your company’s onboarding process to improve the candidate experience in our eBook, Your Complete Guide to Onboarding From Decision to Day One.

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