Film Industry Job Interview Tips
Are you applying for a new job this year? Whether you’re interviewing at the corporate office for a film studio or most likely calling in via Zoom, you should have a plan for how to make the best impression. To help you get the job, here are our film industry job interview tips!
Bring a physical copy of your resume
When in-person interviews begin again, even if you’ve provided a web link or emailed the interviewer your resume, bring a printed copy of your resume to the film industry job interview. Make it easy for them to remember you, not forget you!
Research the person/company ahead of time
Spend at least ten minutes doing an internet search about the person or the company. Being able to say “You went to USC, right?” shows that you’ve done your homework. If it’s a larger company, be prepared to talk about recent movie or TV releases. You don’t need to be an expert – but familiarity shows that you’re passionate and hard-working. If you’re meeting with a director who has only directed one or two films, take the time to watch them.
Prepare some questions
It can be hard to know what questions to ask in a film industry job interview. But if the interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions” and you say “Nope,” you might be missing an opportunity both to get information and to extend the interview. You can ask logistical things about hours or duties, but if these topics have been covered, you can also ask more general questions about things like the interviewer’s background, what qualities the interviewer ideally wants in the person hired, or what mistakes previous employees have made.
Don’t lie or make things up
If you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s better to admit that you don’t know than to lie or make something up. You can always try to emphasize that you’re happy to do more research or find something out. Also, don’t try to talk about a movie you haven’t seen. Do as much prep as you can – but nobody expects you to have seen absolutely everything.
Don’t say that you hate everything
You don’t have to gush effusively about every movie – but avoid sounding overly critical. You’ll have better luck if you sound like you love the film industry and want to join in. An attitude of “Movies today suck, I can do better” will not get you very far.
Have a real answer to “What is your greatest weakness”
If an interviewer asks about your greatest weakness, don’t say “I’m a perfectionist” or “I love my job too much.” These answers can sound like inauthentic cop-outs. Try to talk about an actual weakness. To make sure you still sound like a good candidate, you can tailor your answer to show that you’re working on improving at whatever your weakness is. One HR director once told me that she was impressed that I admitted I was working on being more assertive when demanding things on behalf of my boss.
Don’t downplay yourself too much
Despite the above advice, you don’t want to be too modest. Be proud of your achievements and don’t be afraid to talk them up! In a film industry job interview, focus on the positive things that make you a good candidate, not the lack of experience that makes you unqualified. Even if you are inexperienced, you can emphasize your positive attitude and willingness to learn. It’s up to the job interviewer to decide if you have enough experience. Don’t make the decision for them.
You can also elaborate on things that aren’t 100% related to the job to give the interviewer a sense of your personality. One candidate told me that she got a job at a film studio after talking about her experience as a yoga teacher.
Focus on the job you’re interviewing for
Many of us are working to be writers, directors, or producers. But if you’re interviewing for a Production Assistant job, you don’t want to talk too much about your grander aspirations. Of course, interviewers know you don’t want to be a PA forever, and if they seem really interested in your screenplay, that’s great. But keep your focus to how much you want the job and how well you can do the job. You’re being hired to be a PA, not an aspiring writer. The duties of the PA are the interviewer’s first priority, and they should be yours, too.
Show up on time – not too late, not too early
This might sound obvious, but many job seekers show up late, making a terrible first impression. Especially if you’re new to the city, give yourself EXTRA time in case you get lost, have train delays or have trouble finding a parking spot.
At the same time, if you show up 20 minutes early, you might make a receptionist, assistant or the interviewer themselves feel awkward because they aren’t ready to accommodate you. Wait in your car or a nearby coffee shop if you’re more than 5 minutes early.
Don’t complain too much about your previous job
We all need to vent about our bosses or jobs – but do this with your friends, not at a job interview! If you are asked about your current or previous job, you can talk about challenges, but try not to complain a lot about your boss or coworkers. First, this person might be friends with your old boss! But the bigger risk is that you might come off sounding like a gossip or a difficult, negative person to work with. Avoid the “blame game.”
Many film industry job interviews are casual, but a ratty old t-shirt is also the wrong choice. If you’re interviewing at a talent agency, law firm, studio, or network, you’ll probably want to wear a suit. At a production company, management company or something more informal (like a meeting with a director), jeans and a button-up shirt (or comparable woman’s shirt) are usually fine.
Don’t be too aggressive about money
Once you have a few jobs under your belt, you might be able to be very upfront about your desired rate. But this generally isn’t something you need to ask in a first interview, especially something more formal with an HR person. (Film crew jobs might be different.)
For many entry level film and TV jobs, you’ll be told the rate in a job posting or interview. But if you aren’t, you can wait until you’re offered the job. You will then find out the rate and can decide to accept the job, ask for more money, or reject the job.
Follow up, but don’t pester
It’s fine to send a follow-up “nice to meet you” email, and it’s a good idea to reference something specific about your conversation (maybe you both talked about how much you loved Parasite) to jog the person’s memory. It’s also fine to follow up about the job about a week later. But avoid constant phone calls and emails. It can also be a good idea to be transparent and directly ask what the appropriate time and way to follow up is.