Last year I got the chance to interview with top chef for the 2015 season.
I had a little cognitive dissonance about interviewing though. The problem is that I really hate what reality television has become, and I use food reality shows as an example of what’s wrong with food related television. In the kitchen, reality tv is the butt of jokes, and a pin cushion for what we don’t like with mainstream culinary media. My qualms are the following:
- They’re clearly based more on looks are spunky personalities than on skill
- The dramatic elements are pronounced and exaggerated, and after watching a few reality shows it’s hard to believe anything in them as actually real.
- Again, the drama. Elimination food shows become a game show, like the price is right with some Bob Barker talking head spouting off crap commentary no one cares about.
So if I don’t like reality based food television, the question I’ve been asking myself is: why did I interview with them? Why would I even think about being part of something I make fun of and criticize so much?
In short, because tv is great exposure. I want to continue to build a following for the restaurant, and ensure I have a job in the coming years. Whoring myself on a tv spot like Top Chef would provide plenty of exposure, and point people in the direction of the restaurant. But agreeing sell your talents for something you don’t believe in isn’t really a good policy to adopt.
In the end, I didn’t make it on the show and I breathed a sigh of relief. But a month later, another show called, then another, and another. If I find something that fits my standards remains to be seen. But I’ll keep you posted.
At the end of the day, I’ve had some good experience with video interviewing. Here’s my top six tips.
6 Tips For Video Interviews
Be yourself, and be happy
No one wants a silent, awkward talent. Be yourself, and be comfortable, but remember smile and be communicative.
Make sure you have good, natural light
Arrange the computer and ask the person interviewing you (usually a casting person who will not be viewing the finished interview) for their opinion. Turn off all the lights and get close to a window. The best light will generally be in the morning, say from 9-1, but this varies by season and where you are.
Practice speaking in complete sentences before the interview
These interviews always get chopped up and dissected before they go to people that make decisions. What they do is remove the voice of the person interviewing you and just have your voice, so it’s good to make sure you’re repeating part of the question in your answer. The interviewer will usually tell you this.
Know why you want to be chosen, and articulate it
Every interview I’ve done like has had one question in common: “why do you want to be part of this” or “what makes you the best candidate”. Know your strengths and goals, and practice saying them succinctly before hand. For the Top Chef interview I did, I had a hard time coming up with an answer for their question along these lines, I wonder why? Listen to your gut.
Have questions for your interviewer
If you really want to be part of the operation, asking questions will show interest in what they’re doing.
Have a couple of *professional* headshots ready
This is important. No matter how good you think your pictures look, they will be asking for some to see how you clean up. Sometimes I’ve been asked for them beforehand, sometimes I’ve been asked for them afterwords, but I’ve always been asked. If you’re interviewing for a food related show have some solid pictures taken of you food too. Look around for friends of friends that are photographers, or hire a pro. Either way, don’t take them yourself on an iphone with a plastic tripod.