Interviews early in one’s career are extremely nerve wrecking. At least they were for me! My palms would get sweaty, I would have to take deep breaths, my voice would get shaky, I would forget simple things like why I loved animation. But let me tell you, it does get easier. I promise! Nerves will still be there because you really want the job, but it becomes more of a conversation rather than you feeling interrogated. And I only felt interrogated because I made myself feel that way.
Everyone I ever interviewed with was extremely nice, down to earth and easy to talk to. I was just too caught up in answering questions exactly how I had written them out before the interview. I was too much in my head trying to find the words; I never really gave myself a chance to just talk with them. As soon as I got over that, most of the nerves went away. I am still nervous until the point when I get into the room to interview, but as soon as I meet everyone and start talking I feel a lot more relaxed. Most studios are really good about giving a tour first which always helps as well.
I have had two big interviews at film studios so far. The first one was a phone interview with Tippett Studio, and later that year was an onsite interview with Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). I was nervous of course, but I ended up feeling relaxed and comfortable throughout both. Surprisingly, I was more nervous during the phone interview since my voice and words were all they could go off of. At least in person if I was quiet after a question they could see I was thinking, whereas on the phone I felt like I had to answer quicker so they didn't think I wasn't listening or spacing out!
Here are some things I learned about interviewing:
- Always walk in with a resume portfolio. It’s pretty much a fancy folder. I put some extra resumes in there, my demo reel and business cards. Most of the time I don’t need any of these things, but there was one time they couldn’t find my demo and having it on hand helped. I also put a pad of paper in there with any questions I have about the position, project or company. I also have a pen to jot down any notes that come up during the interview. All of this makes me feel super prepared and eases some of my nerves.
- Research. I always do as much research as I can before the interview. I often find I don’t always know as much as I thought I did and more times then not have been things brought up during the interview. This also helps me feel more prepared.
- Don’t overdo it, but dress nicer than a t-shirt and jeans. I know at some places in our industry, what you wear during an interview doesn’t matter. Even so, I still like to put in a little more effort than my usual day. I find that if I look professional when I look in the mirror, it helps me feel a little more professional overall.
- Ask questions. Asking questions lets interviewers know you are really interested. I am not telling you to fake it if you aren’t interested, but if you really are, don’t hold back. I am sure they will be more than happy to answer any questions you have. So don’t be shy!