Recently, my wife Natalie and I got to hang out with Ruby Wax.
Let me tell you, she ain’t the shy and retiring type! But having spoken with her there may be something you wouldn’t expect to hear from her.
Early on in her career as an interviewer, she said that she used to feel incredibly nervous and her defence mechanism would be to attack the interviewee.
This did not work for her at all. She, by her own admission, managed to alienate the interviewee and she got nothing interesting out of them as a result.
She then changed her approach. She started doing extensive homework on the people she was about to interview and then looked for similarities to her own life. You may not know that Ruby is actually a trained actress, so she would apply some of her character research strategies to her job as an interviewer.
The results were astonishing. She would meet them for what was a ten-minute interview and end up staying for three days. She built such strong rapport with them, empathising with them, making them laugh, and becoming their friend in a very short space of time.
This is a skill all actors need to have.
When you go to auditions, whether it be to get into drama school or for a professional job, building rapport is one of the best things you could do.
When you think about it, when you are cast in a role, you could be working with that Director for months. They want to work with people they like. I will repeat that line again: They want to work with people they like.
If people don’t like you, don’t expect the work to flood in. Talent is important, and your ability to do the role is important – but believe me, people will make many allowances for someone they really like. If there are two actors left in the running for the role and both have talent and can do the job, but they get on with one more than the other, then who do you think gets the role?
Yes, you guessed it.
Learn to get on with people; become their friend, help and assist them, empathise with them, give them interesting information, look them in the eye, smile, make them laugh.
All of this will help you stand out and get them on side.
Ruby had to learn the hard way – on the job. I would advise you start doing this now with friends, family and co-workers. If it’s a habit, then you won’t need to think about it when it really counts, plus you will develop amazing relationships with those around you.