Monday, February 8, 2010

Interview at a Studio: What Was the Interview Like?

Interview at a studio: What was the interview like? What kind of questions were you asked and what do you wear?

The dress code is always a tough one. We all know that this is not an industry where people wear three piece suits. In fact, many times, the people doing the interview will be wearing a t-shirt and blue jeans. Having been on both sides of the interview process, my advice is to wear something business casual. You don't want to be uncomfortable, but you still want to be the best dressed person in the room.

When I interviewed at Pixar, I remember walking into the atrium feeling excited and nervous at the same time. I sat on the couches at the main entrance, looking through some movie clippings they lay out for visitors, pretending to read as my leg bounced up and down 100 times per minute. When the HR rep finally came over and said "Aaron?" my voiced cracked as I replied "Yes!" She walked me up to the main conference room where I would be meeting 17 people (luckily not all at once!).

As I was walking up those steps this wave of calm came over me. Suddenly, I realized that although these people were very talented and accomplished artists, that at one time they were all in the same spot I am in now. They were all are fans of Pixar and really wanted to work there. It was then that I decided I wasn't going to treat them like animation superstars, but rather just people that share common interests in their love for animation.

When I interviewed at Blue Sky, I was talking to HR on the phone working out a time best to fly out to NY for the interview. She told me that Chris Wedge would be in Chicago next week and would I be able to meet him at his hotel. I was speechless. That was like your applying for a job at ILM and George Lucas will be interviewing you. "Hello? Mr Hartline?!" Again I answered with my high "Yes!"

Going to the hotel with my best button down shirt and dress slacks, I searched the lobby for the owner of BlueSky Studios. A man with a t-shirt and bluejeans comes up to me pushing his son in a stroller. Suddenly, he was no longer this star I saw accepting a Oscar just last month, but a laid back father. We talked about our kids, the difference between Chicago and NYC, and one of my favorite films - Cats Don't Dance.

On my first interview, I answered an ad for a videogame company. Showing up with my portfolio full of life drawings and cartoon sketches, the first question I got was "Do you know how to do computer animation?" I looked at him like a deer in headlights. The ad said 'fine artist / animator wanted' so I just told him that's what I did. He smiled and said "well, you'll learn. Besides, you know how to turn on one right?!" I laughed and said "of course" knowing full well I'd have to learn how to do that as well! Then he asked 'where do you see yourself in 5 years?' This one was easy, without hesitation I said 'Disney!' His face dropped. I knew my youth and inexperience got the better of me right then and there. "Well, I'd hoped that you would like it here enough to stay and grow as an artist." Stumbling to get my footing, I said "Oh yeah, of course!" I must have messed up on every aspect of that interview, but for some reason he took a chance on this kid still in school. I'm so glad he did, I can't imagine doing anything else with my life.

Guest blogger Aaron Hartline


f2 said...

'Disney!' This is a nice anecdote! =)
Thank you for sharing....

Peter Saumur said...

Any advice for applying to a studio that doesn't list a job page but only has an "info" email?

mattanimation said...

Cats don't dance IS a really good animation with great character design that I think is way under rated.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious! 17 people interviewed you at Pixar? Wow. I just read this article and my heart was pounding out of my chest. Sheesh. It's a miracle people survive the interview processes. Hahaha.
Thanks for sharing.

Hans said...

I think the most I've been interviewed by at the same time, was about 10 people, all sitting around a table. Fortunately it doesn't freak me out completely. As it was mentioned, they're all just people like you, who's interested in the same things. They just happen to land there first;).

Wasib Qureshi said...

i want join Disney..

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