This is The Monday Line
by Denis G. Campbell
A young male dancer in the stage show ‘A Chorus Line’ takes his place on ‘the line.’ As everyone hands in their photos and resumes, he sings:
Every interview, every opening you try to fill is like a casting call for a Broadway or West End Show. As the employer, how often do you realise the person to whom you are speaking is standing on that line, dying a little inside. Do you care? I suggest you should for one simple reason…
You have no guarantees in business that you won’t find yourself on the other side of that same line.
Both situations attract enormously talented individuals. The stakes are high for both sides. Imagine how far empathy and introspection goes towards understanding.
As a dancer, you have one chance to make an impression that makes you stand out for a call back audition and another and another…
As an employment candidate, your cv must match close enough, in the eyes of someone or a machine that will spend 3-6 seconds scanning a page or web profile, to then merit a phone call for an interview.
In the second audition, you must literally walk on water and be better than everyone else still in the running for the role.
In that second, third, fourth, fifth… interview, you must literally walk on water and be better than everyone else still in the running.
How do you judge in either case?
What made the show ‘A Chorus Line’ special, was the director did what no one ever did before to this group of professional dancers. He forced them to look beyond their perfectly air brushed professional head shot photo resumes and have a very frank and, at times, uncomfortable discussion of who they were, what they wanted and why they were there auditioning for his show.
How many times, have you ever looked beyond keywords or qualifications? This process is your one chance to get to know someone. Your one chance to see what has not been revealed. Why would you not want to dive in beyond words on a page and ask a series of open-ended questions that help you get to know the person.
Honest to God, if one more interviewer asks me what my weaknesses are, I swear I will reach across the table and… ahem.
But, how about you try some of these on for size…
- Who are you? And keep repeating it, drilling down deeper each time. No, who are you really?
- What are you looking for here? No really?
- Why us? No, really, why us?
- What excites you in work? No, I mean really lets you know you’re alive.
- What excites you in life, outside of work? Tell me about your passion for _____.
- Who are you outside of work?
What is your cv not telling me about you? The person who wants to join my company. When I hire a manager, I look for what isn’t there. I find and make connections based on what they have done and enjoy including ‘outside the box’ candidates and… they often make great hires because they are not hide-bound in any way. They look at things differently and their perspective is needed and they get a great skillset.
A Chorus Line in 1975 broke ground in so many ways. I was there in the Shubert Theatre. I was there in London years later. Why? Because the show touched very deep nerves by looking at the ones who make the stars shine by backing them up.
The closing song is where everyone realizes why they dance. They answer the question simply, We do it for love of dance and theatre. ‘What I did for love…’
Who are the people you want and need to back you up? What do you know about them? Do they love what they do in their life? Yes, you want people with talent.
You need people with a passion for what they do. And what they do for you, better be both out of talent AND love, because you inspired them to so do.
We can do so much better by becoming better human beings.
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A Chorus Line opened on 16 April 1975 at The Newman Theatre, the current home of Hamilton. Demand for tickets (and need for a reinforced stage) was crazy and it moved to the larger signature Shubert Theatre in July where it ran for 6,137 performances. It was the number one all time show (before Cats surpassed it in 1997). Please watch the cast of Hamilton celebrate 40 years of ‘A Chorus Line’ with a mayoral proclamation and Hamilton’s cast singing signature numbers with a wonderful surprise at the end.