Applying to be a contestant on a game show is a lot like applying for a job. There are forms to fill out and interviews to attend, and you have to be sure you're putting your best foot forward at all times. One other similarity exists between the two: there are a limited number of spots available and you're up against fierce competition to earn one.
Make sure you're not taking yourself out of the running before you even get started by making sure that your application is strong and completely valid. Here are some of the biggest mistakes people make on a game show application - don't make them yourself!
1. Illegible Handwriting
You might spend hours poring over a game show application and choosing the best stories and character traits to highlight on it. If your handwriting is impossible to read, however, no one will notice the care you put into the information on the forms. Chances are good that the show's casting staff will give up rather than spend valuable time trying to decipher what you wrote.
Solution: Take the time to print neatly, or type up your application. If all else fails, ask someone you know with pristine handwriting to fill it in for you - just make sure you do all of the signing.
2. Straying Away From the Question's Subject Matter
This happens quite often and it's easy to do. You're asked to point out a specific strength or weakness in your personality, or to highlight one of the bravest/silliest/smartest things you've ever done, and in your response you get to rambling. When you're done you haven't really answered the question at all.
Solution: In your mind or on a scrap piece of paper, give the shortest answer possible that directly answers the question. Then, on the form, embellish your response with all of the details that apply to it. Don't stray too far away from your original, short answer.
3. Leaving Questions Blank
Game show applications often ask a lot of questions. Some even have you doing things like drawing a self-portrait. These applications are put together in order to find the right people to play the game and to weed out the wrong ones. If you leave a bunch of questions blank and unanswered, you're not giving the casting crew enough information about you to consider you for a position on the show. It can be a lot of work, but make sure that every space is filled in.
Solution: When you're finished filling out the forms, take the time to look over each one and make sure that you didn't leave any out.
4. Not Following Instructions
This is, by far, the biggest and most damaging mistake that can be made when you're trying to become a game show contestant. Read all of the instructions before you start filling in the application. Make sure that you have all of the identification and forms that you'll need, pay attention to where it should be sent, and note any deadlines for submission. Visit the show's website and casting pages to double and triple check that you're doing everything correctly. If you fail to follow instructions during the application process, your chances of ever getting on the show are greatly and immediately reduced.
Solution: Read and understand every bit of information you can get your hands on about the particular application you're working on. Double check everything.
5. Applying for a Canceled Show
You wouldn't think this would be a big problem, but it really is. People apply to be on game shows that haven't aired in years. Here's the thing: you can't claim to be a huge fan of the show and that you watch it all the time when the show itself no longer exists. I've heard people respond that they still see these shows on GSN, and that's almost understandable. But, with the exception of GSN original games, all of the content on the network is previously-aired and the vast majority of the shows are no longer filming.
Solution: If you're unsure, visit the show's official website which will likely be a sub-section of the network's main site. If the show is still current, there will be a viewing schedule or date when it will return. Another way to prevent this is to only respond to current casting calls rather than sending out blind or old applications.
6. Sending Your Application to the Wrong Address/Person
If you're mailing or e-mailing an application for a game show, make absolutely sure you're sending it to the right place. I've had numerous people send me their applications and I'm just a writer who covers game shows. When you send your completed applications out willy nilly like this, a lot of people are going to end up with your personal information - and it's very likely that none of them are the folks who can cast you on the show.
Solution: The mailing address and/or e-mail address to send your completed application should be readily available. Check the application instructions, the website, or the casting call itself.