Earlier this year I was invited to audition for a workshop of a new Broadway musical. Big auditions like TV shows, films, Broadway and Off-Broadway can be difficult to come by, and to receive a request for a tape is a big win.
But I said no.
On paper I fit the role – heavyset, Spanish-speaking, Latin woman who’s old enough to have an 18 year old daughter. Check, check, check. But I know that despite my acting chops, videos, photos, resume and my agent pitching me, the most important and intangible asset I have is the impression I leave behind. Because even very successful actors may book 1 in 10 jobs, if that.
So we learn to “book the room” and make them want to invite us back for the next thing.
This happens in the corporate world, too. People move on to jobs and when they need to create their teams, they reach out to the people they know and the ones they liked from interviews that they weren’t able to hire before.
Because when the opportunity came, those people were ready. And the ones who interviewed them or watched their auditions knew it.
Years ago I read that casting people wrote “NRFT” on the top margins of resumes at in-person auditions. It stood for “Not Ready For This.” And while that doesn’t mean “never” ready, it sure would preclude them from calling you back anytime soon.
I wasn’t ready to sing for a Broadway casting director this year. No shame in it, it’s just how it is right now. After focusing on film and TV for a long time while doing theatre only sporadically and neglecting my singing, I’ll be the first to admit that when I got that singing audition, A) I was NRFT, and B) I didn’t want to go into the room if I wasn’t going to book the room.
This is applicable to corporate, the arts, everything. Have you ever interviewed someone and it went badly? They weren’t prepared or they just bombed the interview.
Here’s a human nature check-in: would you think to call those people again? Or even if they prepared and did a decent interview, but just weren’t ready for the level of work or the job in particular, how would you respond? Would you trust their judgment after meeting them for something that was far out of their professional purview?
Or maybe… the shoe’s been on the other foot: if you’ve ever gone into an interview and half-assed it, how did that go? Did that interviewer ever call you back? Or friend you on LinkedIn?
When it comes to huge opportunities, I might be in the minority, but I believe that sometimes you can and should say No.
Let's talk more about this big word – NO – next week. See you then.