Hiring Scenario

Hiring Scenario (downloadable pdf) by Ashley Hanson & Pogi Sumangil for PAHRTS. A sample experience of job interviewing meant to inspire conversation. An experienced candidate interviews for an administrative position at a local theatre. What does the organization demonstrate to the candidate about their values and culture?


Recruiting, Interviewing, Hiring

Person A is looking for a new job. Their background is in theater (BA from a local university) and they have spent much of the last ten years working in various administrative positions in small non-profit theater organizations. In their free time, they audition for and perform in shows that they find interesting and challenging. They were recently in a contract position at a small theater company and the season ended. Now, they are looking for a more permanent position, ideally at a mid-size theater company…

No Name Theater, a mid-size non-profit theater company that has a good reputation for paying their actors and designers, and occasionally produces new work, is looking to hire a full time Program Coordinator. They are aware of their relatively homogeneous board and staff and recently adopted a strategic plan that proclaims their commitment to diversifying their staff.

No Name Theater posts this job description on their usual “go to” call-boards:


No Name Theater has an immediate opening for a full-time, benefits-eligible Program Coordinator.

Primary Function: 
Administrative responsibility related to implementing programs, with a focus on staff support. Works to ensure smooth and successful operation of all programs.

Responsibilities include:
• staff support
• coordinating programs
• working with artists
• assistance with program evaluation

Qualifications include: High School graduate or equivalent; secondary education with arts or arts administration background preferred. Three to five years office support is required. Experience working with the public in an arts organization is strongly preferred. The ideal candidate will have strong knowledge of the Macintosh operating system with MS Word and Excel, GoogleDocs, Spreadsheets, and Forms. Experience with, or knowledge of theater discipline or practice desired. Must also be able to handle several projects at one time, be self-directed, highly organized, with great attention to detail, and able to meet deadlines. As a condition of employment, applicants will be required to undergo a background check.

How to Apply

NO CALLS. To apply, e-mail cover letter, resume, three professional references and salary requirements to: info@nonametheater.com

Job Details

Salary Range: Based on experience

Benefits: Eligible

Position Type: Full Time

Job Category: Office And Administrative


Person A, happens to look at one of these call boards and upon reading the description, thinks “hey! That is just what I am looking for!” and submits their resume, cover letter, and references. Some time later, Person A gets an email requesting their availability for an interview for the position.

Person A shows up at No Name Theater 10 minutes early for their interview to find a sign that simply says “please wait here until you are called for your interview.” They hear laughter through a closed door. 15 minutes later, a group of similarly dressed people walk out of the room, shaking hands and smiling. Person A becomes a little self-conscious as they notice that they are dressed a bit different than the group of people, but quickly shrugs that thought off as unimportant. Person A is unsure which of the group is No Name Theater staff and which was being interviewed until Person B says “very nice to meet you all” and to one staff member they give a hug and say, “and great to see you as always – call me later and we will find a time to grab that drink!” as they walk out the door.  

Person A is invited into the interview room where three No Name Theater staff members give their greetings, an overview of the position and company, and begin to ask their prepared questions. The interview is going very well, Person A thinks, and has good answers for the standard prepared questions. Person A explains how excited they were to read the Job Description because their qualifications matched perfectly, and they are eager to learn and have worn many hats in other organizations and have always met every challenge head on.

After the interviewers made it through the prepared questions, there were a few questions that Person A hadn’t been asked before that took them a bit by surprise. One staff member asked, “you seem to have worked at quite a few different places, is there a reason you move around a lot?” Another staff member followed up with “you look young, do you mind me asking how old you are?” And, yet another staff member asked “we often have off site meetings and errands to run… you do have a car, right?” Person A is an avid user and believer in public transport, so answered “no.”  But, besides these questions, Person A thought it all went pretty well. They shook hands and Person A said “nice to meet you all” and the staff members said “you will hear from us soon,” and Person A left, feeling overall pretty positive.

No Name Theater finished their interviews and narrowed their selection down to three people. Person A made it onto that list. As they were debating who they should hire, these comments were interspersed throughout the conversation: When discussing Person B, some of the comments were “I have worked with them before and I know they are reliable.” Another staff member said, “they do seem to be more qualified than the others.” And another came back with “I really liked them, I think they would really fit with our culture,” and “they have done some work here before, so they know what it’s like to work here.” When discussing Person A, these comments were heard: one staff person said, “I’m just not sure they are the right fit…” and another staff member said and “we don’t really have the time or resources to train someone and get them up to speed with ‘what it’s like to work here’ right now.” Another agreed, “we are not really in the position to take any risks.” And, when it came time to make a decision, one staff member said, “I know we are trying to diversify our staff, but at the end of the day, we just have to hire the best person for the job.”

One week later, Person A gets an email in their inbox from No Name Theater…

Dear Sir or Madam,

Thank you for applying for the position open at No Name Theater. We received applications from many qualified individuals. We have selected our new employee based on their qualifications. We will keep your application on file for future reference and wish you all the best in finding suitable employment.  


No Name Theater

A few months later, Person A attends a show at No Name Theater. While flipping through the program, they looked at the photo and bio of the person hired for the job and recognized them as Person B.

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