An agent is your representative. It is his or her responsibility to submit you for roles and auditions by casting directors which will soon become part of your acting career. Aside from that, they will also negotiate your fees and review your contract in exchange for 10% of your gross pay when you get the part. Since there are so many of them around, you have to know how to get one.
There are three ways to get an agent.
First, the agent is happy with your performance in the past and offers his or her services to be your agent. This won't happen if you are just starting out so don't put your hopes too much that someone will call you on the phone.
An agent may also see take notice of you during a scene night where you get invited to various scenes to show off your talent to agents, casting directors and directors. This is done regularly and consists of two minute monologues. Afterwards, you go around and give your press kits to the industry professionals who attended the event and wait for their phone call.
Second, you are given by a recommendation from a casting director, director, fellow actor or producer. This can happen if they like you and they see that you are not properly represented and deserve something better.
Lastly, you get a phone call from an agent after they have reviewed your photo and resume which you had sent through the mail. Majority of the actors starting out get it this way. This will change later on once you have already established yourself in the industry.
When an agent calls you on the phone, it doesn't mean that they will already accept you as a client. It only means that they are inviting you for an interview and then see where things go from there.
The questions they will ask are similar to what a recruiter will ask you when you are applying for a job and when you reply, elaborate on it as thought you are telling a story. That way, they will know that you are very articulate and they can already think of ways of how to sell you to casting directors and producers whenever there is am upcoming movie or a new television show that is about to come out.
It wouldn't hurt to also act in front of the agent a part you performed in the past so they can also get an idea of what is range.
If the agent likes you and wants to take you in, ask yourself if you feel the same way about the agent. Should the feelings be mutual then you have already found someone that can look out for your acting career. If you are not happy, don't be afraid to decline their offer and look for someone else.
One thing you should remember when looking for a talent agent is that you are not required to give them any show money before they decide to represent you. If you are not happy with how your acting career is going, talk to them about what changes need to be made because your acting career is on the line here which may not mean anything to them if they represent other actors.