When you screw up an interview…

I hate talking about myself.  Especially in a situation where “it counts”.  Last week, I had a preliminary interview with Erin Brubacher for the Tarragon Emerging Theatre Artist Grant.  The grant is valued at $15,000 and basically you spend twenty weeks at the Tarragon Theatre “pursuing  you own training and artistic goals by working in collaboration with professional artists in your chosen field of interest”. 

The interview was on the same day as the first day of the ITP program, which made me a little nervous about timing.  But I was able to get there early enough to be early for the interview.  And while I waited, I tried to stay calm.

I get nervous at interviews.  It’s funny because I don’t get nervous going on stage to perform in a play, but having an interview with someone gets my sweat glands going into overtime.

Erin was super friendly and nice, as usual.  We sat in Richard Rose’s office, but I was too distracted to soak up any of the details.   Then came the dreaded question:  Tell me about what you’ve been doing.

And the rambling started.  And the incoherence.  At least, that’s what it felt like.

While I was speaking, I was thinking: You should have prepared for this a LOT more!

Part of my severance package from the WSIB included a few months counselling with Right Management, an agency that helps people in their job search.  One of the things that we had to do at the weekly group sessions was give our “30 second commercial” or elevator pitch.  Basically, we summarized who we are, what we did and what are skills are.  And since we practiced it all the time, it was easy to address the question “Tell me about yourself” and not sound like a rambling idiot.  I had actually worked out a “30 second commercial” for my writing career, but a lot has happened in the last couple of months and I hadn’t updated it.

I guess, as a writer, you should also be preparing an elevator pitch for all the projects that you are working on.  Each project should have its own story.  Whenever you get an opportunity to talk to someone, you should have your story ready to go.  And it should be interesting and embody some of the passion that makes you want to tell the story!

When I left the interview with Erin, I realized that I didn’t talk in specifics about the project that I wanted to work on!  I don’t think I even mentioned the project that I wanted to work on…  I don’t think I even talked about the ITP program, either.  Hai Carumba!!

But, there are no failures – just opportunities to learn.  I find the opportunities to learn are greatest when you miss out on something you really want.   Wah!

Another important thing about messing up interviews, is to have some other projects on the go.  In previous years, I would apply for one thing and then wait until I had heard back.  So that one thing would loom in importance and feel really painful if it wasn’t successful.

This year, I’ve applied for a few grants and contests; and, I will continue to apply for more of them before the year is out.  Not only does applying for more things improve your odds of being successful, but it helps lessen the blow if you are not selected for a particular one.

So, although things don’t look good for this particular grant proposal, especially after my lacklustre interview, I do have a few other grants to still hear back from.  And moving forward, I know what kind of things to do to prepare for my next interview.  Bring it on!

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