The syndicated version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is coming to Houston on Monday to audition contestants. I participated in auditions in Houston almost 11 years ago, got the call to be on the show, won $64,000 (minus way too many taxes).
I ended up doing this because my very cool mother-in-law encouraged me to try out. The show experience was one of the most surreal things that has ever happened in my life.
I’ve helped other people get on the show since then, and thought I’d share some Who Wants To Be A Millionaire audition tips.
- Details. Details on where the WWTBAM Houston auditions are can be found here. The WWTBAM rules/eligibility info here. I am no longer eligible because I’ve been in the hotseat.
- Prepare for Lines. Show up early. Bring patience, a bottle of water, something to read. It may be a while before you can get a bathroom break so take care of business. I’ve tried out for multiple game shows, sometimes you wait inside the hotel, sometimes they line you up outside. (Yes, in the heat). They have a limit of how many people they can test at a time. And sometimes they may choose to cut off the line.
- What to Bring. Identification card. Prepare for either hot or cold. For females, have a small mirror in your purse to re-apply makeup, do hair and whatnot.
- What to Wear. Think of this like a casual first date. You want to make a good first impression. If you get to the interview portion, they will take a headshot picture. Wear something you think is flattering, shows who you are, and you don’t mind having to stand in a long line wearing it. Not cocktail stuff, but not schluby where they wonder if you haven’t anything decent you can wear on the show. (Unless some sort of hipster schlub is part of your uh look).
The Written Test
- Nature of Test. The audition test is a general interest test in a multiple choice format. Like the questions from the show. It is timed.
- Is The Test Hard? Depends. Sometimes trivia type people have trouble with the People Magazine sorts of pop culture questions. Sometimes pop culture folks have problems with the trivia things or stuff they used to know when they were in 5th grade. Some people fail one of the tests, get a different set of questions and pass. They won’t tell you what passing is.
- Sitting in Chairs. When I took the test, we were jammed in a room with a lot of chairs. If you can sit at the end of the row, that might be handy. I ended up sitting next to this odd guy who was loudly and unhappily talking to himself.
The Audition Interview
- Smart Isn’t Enough. For those who pass the written test, they then are asked to come to what is called the “Audition Interview.” Basically, they your picture, and you stand in front of a group of producers who ask you questions. If you “pass” both the written test and the audition interview, they put you in what they call the “Contestant Pool.” They want to make you audition to be on the show to make sure that Meredith Vierra has interesting people to chat with in the hotseat. They don’t want people who freeze up when they in front of an audience and on camera.
- Be A Caricature. Reality TV isn’t real. Producers don’t want real. They say they want real, but most real is boring and practical. They want interesting. Reality characters can be summed up with a stereotyped sentence. What is different, interesting about you? For me, I was that fanatic sports-loving woman. Four words. (I talked about the Houston Texans before they played their first game). Collect interesting things? Play instruments? Have a thing you’ve overcome in your life? Something weird or quirky but not scary. You want to be a character that isn’t obviously a character. Be yourself, but maybe a little more emphatically you.
- Be Easy for the Producers. Fill out a form? Use neat handwriting. Follow their directions. Don’t be a pain, and don’t do anything they might see as weird or threatening. Sometimes odd people show up at these sorts of events.
- Basic Interview Techniques. Have a quick smile. Use mannered eye contact. Have an engaging conversation with them. The producers want to look good, and the way they look good for their bosses is picking good TV.
- Be Prepared With INTERESTING Sound Bite Answers. Be prepared to tell your one sentence sum up of yourself and why you want to be on the show. A basic question you might get: What would you do with the money? They don’t want a normal sensible answers like paying off the mortgage or paying for kids education. Something interesting, heartwarming good TV. Are you a risk taker? Work that into the conversation. Say your most interesting things first, and talk until they ask you something else. They want to know you are an easy conversationalist. A game show is sort of like a talk show for non-celebrities with games mixed in.
- Special Info for Middle Aged White Guys. The early years of WWTBAM had lots of middle aged white guys on it. Because stereotypically, white guys like trivia and they didn’t have an in-person audition process; they had a phone-in test. Even with the audition process, a lot of white guys try out. So if you are a white guy, you are going to have to try harder to not be fungible white guy. You are going to have to look, dress, and act like you are impressing the hottest girl ever. You aren’t going to have that much time to impress because they may not ask you as many questions. So you better be heartwarming, good quirky not scary, or whatever your shtick is very quickly.
- Geography. They are auditioning in different places around the country, so if you are a student from some place else, you might want to say that is your home town. From a Houston suburb? Write down that suburb. They want diversity of everything on their show–young, old, race, geography, conventional looking, interesting looking. Melting pot.
- You Are Auditioning From The Beginning. Assume that someone from the show is always watching you. The year that I auditioned, they had someone who entertained the group while the written test was being scored. Sometimes they ask for volunteers to be up front to do stuff. My year, they asked for impressions. I did The Worst Impression Ever but I did something. (I turned around, flipped my hair over, turned back around, and I was Cousin It–yes, I know that is profoundly stupid. But hey, maybe that stupid helped get me $64,000 less tax).
Good Luck, Have Fun, and Breathe
Please let me know if you have any additional questions or suggestions.
I was on the show because my mother-in-law saw the article in the Houston Chronicle and insisted I go the next day. Wrote an overly-long piece on my WWTBAM show experience here. It’s a longshot to get on the program, but I did it, and got my best friend to do it too. So it isn’t impossible unless you don’t try.
If you get chosen to be on the show, let me know and I can give you some additional advice.