Detailed “Millionaire” Road Auditions Guide: What to Expect and How to Succeed
Some of you may have noticed that someone other than Alex Davis has been contributing to BuzzerBlog in the past couple of weeks. Several of you may know me but for those of you who don’t, let me briefly introduce myself: My name is Chad Mosher and I’m the newest writer/correspondent for Buzzer. At the age of 22, I’ve been an in-studio contestant on three national game shows and a peripheral participant on at least two others. The highlight of this run for me, so far, was appearing on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire this past September and, in the process, winning $43,550, the current record for the most money won on the “shuffle” format without entering round two. But to get in that position, I first had to go through the audition process. To coincide with the upcoming road auditions beginning next week, this “how-to guide” will hopefully work to aid you down that path as well. It’s going to be long but it’s going to have almost everything you’ll need to know – excluding the answers to the test – to do well in the beginning of your quest for a million dollars.
First, you’ve got to know what’s going to happen. Before you even think about going to the audition site, you need to go to the official Millionaire site to download and fill out an application. If you don’t, they will likely have blank ones to fill out at the testing site, but you will look much more prepared if you come ready with one. You, along with potentially thousands of other game show hopefuls, are going to get in line at your preferred time of day. No matter if you get to the testing site an hour before the doors open or try to squeeze into the last session of the day, you are going to be waiting. A lot. Make sure you have something to keep yourself occupied while waiting here. Even if it’s just your iPod, the friend you came with or something else, don’t be caught looking bored. Whenever you’re at the audition site, always act like you’re being watched. You never know who from the show is going to be popping around. You don’t want to get a perfect score on the test but be turned down because you were that guy in the line who looked like he’d want to be anywhere else, right?
So after waiting in line for however long it takes to audition the people in front of you, it will eventually become your turn. You might get a piece of swag or two (I still have my Millionaire pencil, magnet and T-shirt) and you will be led into the testing room. Dozens upon dozens of chairs will be lined in a room. If you’re lucky, you’ll get tables but if not, when you come in, you will pick up a piece of cardboard on which to write along with a test envelope and a Scantron, just like in school. And don’t you dare try to sneak a peek into the test envelope. You open that flap and you will be shot execution style… or maybe you’ll just be disqualified. I dunno, I didn’t want to cross them.
After some introductions from the casting staff, you will be instructed to begin the test. The Millionaire contestant exam contains 30 four-choice questions aligned on a back-and-front page. Auditioners will have ten minutes to complete the test. Topics can range from anything imaginable – pop music, sports, TV, history, words – I even had a question about fast food items. It seems like it is nearly impossible to prepare for that, right? Sort of. Here’s something not widely known about the exam: Most, if not all of the questions on the exam, come from actual questions used on previous seasons of the program and they vary from all difficulty levels of round one. You can study common ideas, like popular recent films, songs and programs plus knowing the recent winners of all the big sports events. Another good way to prepare for this is to watch repeats of the show or, if you don’t have them handy, review transcripts of previous episodes. (My favorite resource to do this is in the “Show Transcripts” section of the WWTBAM Bored message board. Complete show recaps are available there dating back to 2007.) If you do well reviewing the transcripts, getting about 8 in a 10 question round one, you are likely to do well on the test. Much like many other game shows with trivia tests, the passing score has never been officially confirmed, but best guesses estimate it to be around a 25 out of 30.
After the ten minutes expires, you’ll pass your exam to the left – again, just like school – and the scores will be graded. This happens very quickly. I’ve heard some murmuring of people that think since it happens so quickly that they don’t look at them but the reason Scantron tests are so popular is that they’re super easy to grade. You run the master answer sheet through the machine and then each test you run through afterward, the number correct is stamped on it – they’re being graded, promise. Each test packet comes with a number on it that you will write on your test. It is highly important you remember this number since that is what they call to indicate who has passed the test. If you don’t think you can remember a two or three digit number that long, bring a scrap piece of paper and inconspicuously jot it down quickly for safe keeping. When your number is called, jump up, smile, and let out a “yes!” – but focus. The second part of the audition is coming up: The interview. (If you’re one of the unfortunate ones who do not pass, you will be asked to leave. Maybe they will come near your town again next year.)
Depending on this year’s format of the interview process and the location where you test, one of two things will happen. A) All of those who passed the test will be asked to line up in the side of the room to begin the interview portion, or B) All of those who passed will be asked to return at another point in the day for the callbacks period, where what I will detail next will take place. One by one, each auditioner will be asked to come speak to one of the casting coordinators. This is a very important conversation – it will seem very casual, almost as if you’re talking with a friend. My advice for the interview portion is to always be yourself… but bigger. Get excited, but don’t get fake. Don’t say “oh, I’m just a student” or “well, I’m only a mother of two.” Be happy about what you do. If you’re not interested in your life, how do you expect someone else to be? You’ll have two or three minutes of discussion. If the associate likes you, you will be passed onto the next level. If not, you’ll be thanked for your time and told to look for your postcard in the mail within two to three weeks. (The postcard will tell you if you’ve been chosen to be put into the contestant pool, eligible to be chosen for the program or if you were not selected and may audition again.)
If you don’t make it to this next part, you won’t be treated as if you have been cut. It’s just that based on others’ experiences of which I’m aware, no one who is relieved at this point has received the “happy card.” Some auditioners will now be asked to sign a small release allowing them to be filmed. This is the final part of the process: the video audition. You’re going to have a similar kind of conversation, a lot of questions derived from your application. You’ll look at another producer behind a Flipcam on a tripod. Some prospective contestants from earlier auditions this year have noted that in your audition, you may be asked mock questions with the point of seeing how you work out the answer and then gauging your reaction to your fate. Be thrilled if you win and react strongly if you don’t – this is likely to weed out the kind of people who just give a slight smirk when they add $25,000 to their bank. The producers know it’s not a lot of fun to watch people act unfazed by life-altering prize money.
This interview will be taken back to New York to be reviewed and this will help in the final contestant selection process . As always, be yourself but bigger, be able to be heard and don’t take too long coming up with questions. If you can’t perform well with a $100 camera and a producer, they’re not going to think you’ll perform well with 6 HD cameras and Meredith Vieira. Be kind, keep your answers short and to the point and don’t fidget too much – use your hands to be expressive instead of putting your hands in your pockets or twiddling your thumbs.
And that’s it! You will be thanked for your time and you’ll be told to keep looking for that positive-message postcard. Although you’ll be told two to three weeks later, it can certainly come earlier… mine came in just over a week! If you get the “happy card,” your eligibility to be chosen lasts up to two years. Sometimes it takes that long. For me, it barely took a month. I’d like to think, since I was chosen fairly quickly to participate in the show, that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to auditioning. Hopefully this will help alleviate concerns you have about trying out. If Millionaire is coming to your area and if you’ve got the time, give it a shot! There’s no reason not to. You’ve only got to lose a couple hours of your time. If you have any other questions relating to the audition process, feel free to ask in the comments box and I will do my best to help out. I’ll be at/around the first audition in Chicago in Monday to support a friend, so if you see me in person – whether it be next to the line with my friend or at the blackjack tables in the Rivers Casino where the audition is held – feel free to say hey! Good luck and have a great audition!
Chad Mosher on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire – September 29th – 30th, 2011
Photo and video courtesy Valleycrest Productions Ltd.