Getting on Jeopardy
February 28, 2005 4:53 PM   Subscribe

If I register my interest in a local contestant search at the Jeopardy website, what are my odds of getting contacted for an interview?

Is the initial part of the process totally random? Looking at the registration form, there don't seem to be many criteria that they could use to filter potential contestants.
posted by greatgefilte to Grab Bag (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
i don't know the answer to your question, but good lookin' out -- i signed up for the phoenix regional and my destiny will soon be fulfilled!

or not.
posted by Hat Maui at 5:13 PM on February 28, 2005

I appeared on Jeopardy recently, and can tell you that, in the first stage of the process, there is no screening at all. You just make an appointment and show up to take the test. (I'd imagine the show's producers are prohibited by law, if not by ethics, from screening their potential contestants at this point in the process.)
The screening that does occur happens later, after the tests, and is purely based on merit: if you do well on the written test and in the mock-Jeopardy round, they may call you. Or they may not. I don't think you'll find information on what your odds are - probably it's some sort of tightly guarded Jeopardy secret. Who knows what the magic fomula is? Some sort of combination of smarts + telegenic-ness + affableness + other intangibles.

I'd be happy to tell you more about the test itself, if you like -- just email me.
posted by Dr. Wu at 5:13 PM on February 28, 2005

Finally, an AskMe question right up my alley! I can answer your question based on my experience appearing on the Jeopardy! college tourney a couple of years ago.
Your chances are very good of being asked to show up at the contestant search, although I wouldn't really call it an interview. You take a written test and play a mock version of the game in front of casting producers if you pass. I clicked the "I want to be a contestant" button on the website, just like they say to on the promo, filled out the form, and shortly received a letter that served as my ticket into the "casting call" a month or so down the road. I'm pretty sure everybody who signs up online gets a ticket. As I recall, there were about 50 people in the room with me, and we were one of 12 groups to go that day. And this was just one day in one city.
So your odds are good to be contacted. After that, know your trivia, smile a lot, and pick the next clue immediately after giving a correct response. If you want to know more, I'm always happy to talk about my 15 minutes, so shoot me an email.
Also, if you're eligible for any of the the special tournaments, try for those- the show provides your transportation/ accommodations and the consolation prizes are bigger!
posted by PhatLobley at 5:37 PM on February 28, 2005

PhatLobley gives great advice: "pick the next clue immediately after giving a correct response" during the mock game following the test. For me, the test was the easy part; I completely froze up during the mock game and doomed any chances I might have had to make a name for myself on the high school tournament.

Someday I hope to have a second chance.
posted by schustafa at 5:58 PM on February 28, 2005

As yet another MeFi Jeopardy alum (I was on the show in 1992), I can attest to everything Dr. Wu and PhatLobley say about the contestant search. They usually bring in about 100 people at a time for the test (sometimes even more) and everyone who passes gets to play a mock round for the talent coordinators.

So send in your name and keep studying!
posted by briank at 6:33 PM on February 28, 2005

They do exclude people from taking the college and teen jeopardy games. They randomly select approximately 1 in 5 (depends on the number of people who sign up, obviously) people to come. However -- though this hasn't been verified, it was generally assumed to be true by those who'd done it, including me -- once you've tried out and gotten to the second round once, you'll automatically be in the next tryout you sign up for. Without fail.
posted by u.n. owen at 6:42 PM on February 28, 2005

My uncle was on and he was under the impression that once you get past the test, which lots of people do well on, they pick for the show based on other factors, like your profession. They get a lot of lawyers and accountants, so if you do something unusual they feel it can add variety to the show. Also I imagine looks and personality count.
posted by mai at 7:00 PM on February 28, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks, all, maybe you'll see me (and Hat Maui) on TV soon!
posted by greatgefilte at 8:42 PM on February 28, 2005

Back in my day, they went around to malls and such and had open tryouts. This was...96 or 97, I think.

You had to take a quick ten question quiz, and if you aced that, you came back later for a 50 question test, and if you did okay on that, you did a little roleplaying and got your picture taken and filled out a little dossier and then you went home and wondered if you'd get called.

The group I was in at the end skewed very male, a little older, and extremely geeky, so I figured, correctly, that I was in. I was one of the first contestants that season.

I came in second and enjoyed a trip to sunny Toronto along with fabulous parting gifts. It is a dark period of my life. Damn you, World Capitals. Damn you.
posted by padraigin at 9:14 PM on February 28, 2005

Or, if you're like me and don't make it pass the tryouts, you do get to keep that nifty Jeopardy! pen you used to fill out the questionnaire.
posted by icontemplate at 2:50 AM on March 1, 2005

It's how I got picked (randomly selected before the actual testing).

I got on, by the way, as did my sister.
posted by jpburns at 4:36 AM on March 1, 2005

I registered online about five years ago and have been selected to tryout twice, both in Cleveland. The first time I didn't study at all and did not pass the exam. The second time, which was back in October, I did study (using many of the reference materials found in this metatalk thread started by the gentleman above) and did pass the exam and participated in the mock game. Now I spend every evening sitting quietly by the phone waiting, waiting for that call.
posted by Otis at 8:24 AM on March 1, 2005

I registered online for Chicago last year and did not get a call. I signed up again just now, so I'm hoping for a call this time.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:41 AM on March 1, 2005

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