Howie Mandel America's Got Talent
TV Personality Howie Mandel attends the “America’s Got Talent” Season 11 live show at Dolby Theatre on Aug. 23, 2016 in Hollywood, California. Mandel will return as a judge for Season 12. Getty Images

“America’s Got Talent” Season 12 won’t premiere on NBC for another few months, but prospective contestants are already workings towards getting on the show. Open call auditions have begun, and producers have started their search for the next winner.

The Season 11 winner, 13-year-old singer Grace VanderWaal, was discovered at Queens College in New York City last year. The open call auditions returned to Queens College last week with producers hoping to strike gold at the same location.

“What we’re looking for is something that literally gives you goosebumps when you’re in the room,” Executive producer of “America’s Got Talent,” Jason Raff, told International Times. “We were here one year ago, I remember when Grace Vanderwaal entered our room, and I was like, ‘Oh another kid singer, we see so many of them.’ And then she started singing and I got goosebumps. And I knew from that day on her life was about to change.”

Over 100,000 people will audition for Season 12, but only a couple of hundred will get past the first round. That’s when judges Howie Mandel, Mel B, Heidi Klum and Simon Cowell take over.

Mandel, who is entering his eighth season as a judge, admits that it isn’t easy to decide which acts are the best. The judges have varying opinions, and it’s ultimately a subjective competition.

“There isn’t one answer, there isn’t one act,” Mandel told IBT. “We’re not always on the same page. Sometimes it gets late into the night and there are big arguments and it gets loud. Because we hold a key to that person’s life, and we all care about this.”

While Raff and Mandel can’t say exactly what they’re looking for in the next “America’s Got Talent” winner, they do agree on a few tips that should help you in your audition.

1) Be Original

With so many acts auditioning, it’s important to be unique. Less than one percent of those that perform for the producers will get seen by the judges. You won’t get past the open call auditions if you don’t stand out from the crowd.

“I want to see what I don’t know,” Mandel said. “I want to see what I don’t expect. I want to hear what I’ve never heard before.”

That doesn’t mean you need an unusual talent to advance. In fact, the first six seasons saw a singer win the competition. But doing something different within the act could help your chances in the audition.

Raff suggested that singers should stay away from songs that other contestants are singing or put their own twist on a popular song. Mandel also noted that someone who performs an original song, like Vanderwaal did in her first performance in front of the judges, could have an advantage over someone that covers a mainstream hit.

2) Be Yourself

While standing out is important, trying too hard to be unique can backfire. Mandel stressed that contestants shouldn’t be different simply for the sake of being different.

“Don’t overthink it,” Mandel said. “Do what you do. Be you, and you can change your life, or the direction of your life, forever.

“Go there and do it. Just do it and do it for you. Don’t think about how to win the contest. You can’t control that, you can’t control the judges’ reactions or the crowd’s reactions.”

Even though it’s a variety show with different acts, Raff says there are no specific guidelines for what kind of performers have to make it through each round. The best of the best will advance, and an act that is unusual but doesn’t wow the judges won’t work.

3) Be Confident

With such a small chance of even making it beyond the open call auditions, it’s easy to see why some contestants are timid when it comes time for them to perform. But it’s important to relax and believe in your abilities when you get the opportunity to show what you can do.

“You want to enter the room, even if you’re not confident, pretend you’re confident,” Raff said. “Pretend like you own the place. Don’t be arrogant, but just show us a little bit of your personality.”

Raff says the producers are looking for someone with “charisma” and “star quality,” and that won’t showcase itself if you’re not confident in your performance.

Many of the acts on “America’s Got Talent” have only performed in front of small groups before, and confidence is key for what is likely the biggest performance of your life. There’s plenty of pressure at the open call auditions, and that only gets multiplied when eventually performing in front of the judges and millions of viewers on TV.

Open call auditions for “America’s Got Talent” began in November, with producers visiting 10 cities to determine which acts will make it through to the second round to be seen by the judges. One is scheduled for Memphis, Tennessee, at the Memphis Cook Convention Center on Feb. 4, and the final one will take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Feb. 11. Those who can’t make it to an open call can submit an online audition to by March 4.