Why Karaoke should be included in an interview process.

I’d say one in four people are authentically comfortable performing karaoke. However, I believe that like public speaking or a solid debate strategy, the art of performing Karaoke is a skill that should be learned by all and the act alone is a leading indicator of your tenacity in other areas of life. Among many other reasons, here are 5 things that make Karaoke so daunting: You have to think on-the-fly, multitask, appeal to a skeptical audience, and rethink the things that you thought you knew. And of course, there’s the whole vulnerability complex that comes with exposing your level of talent (or lack there of) in an area that all humans can relate to.

I had the opportunity to try my first solo Karaoke performance while at SXSW this past week. I sucked, and here’s why:

[highlight color=’#81caea’ text-color=’#ffffff’] Fail #1) I didn’t do my research. [/highlight]

I had no “go-to” song. EVERYONE should have a go-to Karaoke song(s) – maybe even kept in a list on your iPhone. When you’re faced with a 500 page book of options, even the most prolific performers would get analysis paralysis. This is the same scenario as if someone asks you to recount a time in your professional experience where you overcame an obstacle. The abyss of possible anecdotes to demonstrate your proficiencies is overwhelming so pick your example (or song) and tailor it to perfection.

[highlight color=’#81caea’ text-color=’#ffffff’] Fail #2) Showmanship & Sales. [/highlight]

I may know every word and riff associated with Lauren Hill’s “Killing Me Softly” but that’s simply not enough to sell it. Just like any interview or presentation, simply relaying the content or reiterating what’s stated on paper is not enough. You have to play it up. Dance a little. Delight your audience. Deliver with gusto. If the lyrics and vocals suffer as a result of your epic knee slide across the room, you will be forgiven.

[highlight color=’#81caea’ text-color=’#ffffff’] Fail #3) My confidence crumbled. [/highlight]

Isn’t that the ultimate failure? I let the fear of not doing well enough to hold me back from doing anything. Plus, your audience feeds off of what you give them and the result is a feedback loop that can either work for you or against you. It doesn’t take many episodes of “The Voice” to see this in practice. As soon as one coach turns around, the singer’s confidence builds, momentum and energy pick up, and all of a sudden she’s validated and has the power to sidestep the nerves that would otherwise sabotage that high note in the song’s finale. However, the coaches don’t turn their chairs around if you don’t start off with that same level of confidence. That’s on you to self validate and get there from the get-go.

I relate this to the interview process because it is another infrequent, art-of-delivery experience where you simply need to bring it. Rarely does your audience have the patience or tolerance for a “do-over”, nor should they. And ultimately in both situations, if you don’t bring it, know that someone else will and the only position you will assume is the role of spectator.