July 25, 2008

Process for trying out for "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire"

I was asked about the process for trying out for the syndicated American version of the game show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire". The process for trying out is roughly as follows:

"You'll sit down with about 140 fellow Millionaire contestant wanabees. First, you'll each take the same multiple-choice test. The test is reminiscent of the SAT or most any other standardized test: Scantron sheets, fill-in-the-bubbles, #2 pencils. In the case of the Millionaire test, you have 10 minutes to answer 30 multiple-choice questions (each question has four possible answers, just like on the TV show). You have to get some number of questions correct to pass, but they don't disclose publicly what that number is (though you don't need a perfect score; I know I've gotten some questions wrong on the test, but I still got a passing grade).

Each potential contestant in this first stage is identified by a two- or three-digit number; once the test is completed they grade the tests (using a scanning machine) and they read by identifying number those tests which passed. The number of those who pass is usually quite small, probably about 10% of all potential contestants in any given tryout. Those who don't pass are then thanked for their time, encouraged to try out again, and kindly asked to leave. Those who remain advance to the next phase.

In the next phase, you fill out a bunch of forms asking basic biographical information (name, age, address, education), possible conflicts-of-interest (Are you running for office? Have you worked for any of the show's advertisers?), and assorted other questions (What's your most embarrassing moment? Do you have any interesting hobbies? What would you do with a million dollars?). They take your photo, and they interview you for about 5 minutes or so, basically asking you about you. Then they thank you again for your time and tell you that they will let you know in about a month or so (perhaps by phone, usually by postcard) if you'll be eligible as a contestant in the upcoming season.

Good luck!"