Is auditioning the new interviewing?

Is auditioning the new interviewing?

A recent article in People Management gave an insight into TGI Fridays’ use of auditioning instead of the traditional interview as part of their hiring process. Not just front of house staff, but prospective bar tenders and kitchen staff were also put through their paces in a half-day session which included impersonating dishes off the menu, “selling” obscure objects to the judges and group exercises.

The closest the candidates came to a proper interview was a series of 60-second speed-dating-esque chats. So is auditioning better than interviewing? And how should you prepare if you’ve been invited to something similar?

Interviews vs auditions

Recruiters will go to great lengths to ensure they only give jobs to the right people. After all, if the recruitment process is lengthy and expensive, so is the process of getting rid of someone if they aren’t right for the role.

There are advantages and disadvantages of both methods. If you’re applying for a front of house job in the service industry you’re going to need to quickly build rapport and potentially have fun with your customers and a traditional interview won’t necessarily test these things so well.  On the flip side, an interview allows time to explore much more in detail your experience and what you can bring to a role and covering things like testing your motivation for applying.

Auditions suit those do-ers who don’t mind getting stuck in and can be as much a way for candidates to decide a role isn’t for them as for recruiters. Interviews suit people who like to spend a good amount of time preparing, thinking about what they may be asked and matching their experience to aspects of the job. Most of this preparation would have come to nothing in the TGI Fridays example, however. Maybe recruiters feel that this kind of process means they see more of “the real you”?

How to prepare for an audition

First of all, you need to know that’s what you’re going to, so if you’re asked to go in to see a company, do check what you’re actually going along for if the letter doesn’t make it clear. Then you can tailor your preparation.

Once you know you’ll be having an audition, go and experience the company for yourself. If it’s a restaurant, go and eat there, listen for phrases that the front of house staff use and watch for the ways they manage their customers.

Use this opportunity to speak to your waiter/waitress what it’s like to work there and use their answers to decide if you think you’d like the culture and whether the role will suit your personality.

Practise some quick-fire interview questions. How would you answer if you were asked about the best service you ever had, for example? Just get used to giving a short, snappy answer and forming your thoughts quickly.

Finally, don’t forget that there may also be more formal interview questions slipped into the process. In the article, TGI recruiters asked these when they thought the candidates would be off-guard  – questions like why you want to work at that company and what you think you can bring to the team are all fairly predictable and you should be ready to answer them with some depth.

The best recruitment techniques

So which is better – auditions or interviews? There’s no right answer to this one I’m afraid. Every organisation will judge the best process for them and for the type of roles they need to recruit. It’s unlikely accountants will be asked to impersonate a rack of ribs, but asking a potential waitress how to calculate net profit isn’t going to tell you whether she can do the job either.

What is a great tool is a job trial. It gives both the potential employee and the employer a chance to see things in action. The candidate can experience the job itself and the recruiter can get feedback from people the candidate may be working with. Job trials are especially relevant in the service industries – think chefs and front of house staff, but can also be useful to assess team dynamics, how quickly someone gets stuck in and how they cope with on-the-job tasks.

If you want help with the next step in your career, whether that’s preparing for an interview or brushing up your CV to help you secure one, give me a call on 07765 894040.

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