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Job Interview tips (Visual Effects, Animation & Games)

Interviews are essential but they can be uncomfortable even for the most seasoned artists.


Interviewing for a new job can be a confusing and nerve-racking experience. Meeting a bunch of strangers (online) who ask you a million questions while holding the cards to decide if you get the job you want and need. You have to make sure to leave a good impression and to show you are the right candidate for the position. After a number of rejections and bad deals we begin to doubt ourselves and start to get unsure if we are even good enough for the position and should be paid a fair amount. We fall prey to our own judgment and lose confidence.


​Don't worry this is something most of us go through and it's rarely our skills that block our path. It's the art we present our skills in the right way, for the right company at the right moment. Similar to the application and negotiation process, we often have a few interviews before getting our job and don’t have to do it for the next couple of months or years. Last time we got lucky but what about this or the next time?


By sticking to the following practices, you can have a more successful and enjoyable experience in each of your future interviews.


Can a successful interview be fun?


Before

Preparation is key to a successful interview. Imagine your interview like a presentation - of yourself - in which the better you're prepared the more confident and flexible you are. The two most common issues seen in an interview is the lack of rehearsal and not knowing what to prepare for. Here are the most common points to prepare for:



Research

Being knowledgeable in your skills is the first step; the second is understanding where you will apply those skills. Going into an interview without doing any research, can demonstrate a lack of interest and can leave you unprepared for questions that may come up. You can research the studio by looking over the website and social media channels or by talking to people who work/worked at the studio. Remember, the interview is just as much for you as it is for the studio.



Practice answering interview questions

It’s a good idea to practice answering interview questions in advance. Just writing down your answers will allow you to be less nervous, come up with easier examples, and be more confident. Answering interview questions is a delicate balance of not being too long-winded and not being too brief and abrupt.


Here are some questions to think about:

  • “Tell me about yourself. Who are you?”

  • “Tell me about a challenge you had. What made it challenging and how did you overcome it?”

  • “Why’re you leaving XYZ?”

  • “What made you come to us?”


How to Answer "Tell Me About Yourself" (by Novoresume)



Practice talking about your reel

Make sure you are familiar with all the work on your reel. The interviewer may bring up your reel in the interview and ask about your process or challenges. Being able to talk about your work not only confirms your knowledge, but is a skill you can take into the workplace. How often do you have to present your latest update in dailies, weeklies or monthlies?


Preparation is key to a successful interview.


Prepare your (final) questions

Asking questions shows interest while asking the right questions shows determination and preparation. The right questions focus on understanding the role and studio better.


For example: “What does a typical day in my role look like?” or “How would you describe the studio culture?


If you really don’t have any questions, because they were already answered, then you can acknowledge that with “I was going to ask about the pipeline, but you’ve already given me a good understanding of how it works”.



During

Now we're at the hardest part: The interview itself. Here are a few key points to go through it as smoothly as possible.


Will there even be interviews in person in the future? (Jimmy Ockey, Animal Logic)

Remote interviews are the default nowadays
Detailed Answers

A common (bad) way to answer questions especially in interviews is to be literal, general and brief ... too brief.

When asked to give an example, try to be specific rather than general. Of course, your interviewers know that some information is confidential, so you won’t be sharing secrets especially if the project hasn’t been released yet. However, if it was an asset that you made or a tool you built, what were the issues that required skill? Was it something you suggested or were asked to do? How long did it take you to do it? What was the communication process? Were you working closely with someone else for feedback? Did you solve the problem? If so, how?

Make sure that your answers bring you forward in the interview. Fill it with details that show the practical side of things.



Soft Skills

Look for opportunities to show off your soft skills (ie. passion, communication, collaboration, humility, dependability). This can be communicated in how you answer your questions (ie. do you come across as someone with an ego or confidence?) or how you interact during the interview (ie. don’t hijack the interview).



Don’t complain about your past jobs

While it’s important to give context to some of the challenges you’ve had, try not to bad-mouth your previous studios even if you think it is totally their fault. More often than not you can come off as negative or maybe even a part of the described problem. If you need to criticize keep things abstract:The challenges were often the same ...”, “The planning often needed us do overtime ...” etc.


Make sure that your answers bring you forward in the interview.


After

A common mistake seen with most applicants especially in the times after the interview is being too passive. “I am afraid to annoy them” or being seen as too “desperate” is the common train of thought. There is no harm in asking (for clarity). In some cases it can actually be the reason for your hire:


  • Shows commitment and interest

  • Demonstrates clear communication

  • Building relationships

  • Reminder (even hiring process can be forgotten)



“Thank you” emails

An email sent after the interview expressing interest in the role and appreciation for the interviewer’s time can help you stand out. It can also be a great opportunity to ask any questions that you may have forgotten or didn’t have the time for during the interview.



Be patient

There are many reasons why a recruiter may not be getting back to you. While it’s important to be patient, don’t be afraid to communicate with the recruiter. You can follow up on the status of the job. Or, if you have another offer, but are really interested in the studio, let them know your timeline. (An old and proven way to speed up the process: "I have another offer! Can we wrap up this process soon?")


There is no harm in asking (for clarity).


Resume

An interview has 2 purposes: To check if the perception of your skills is the reality (through questions and extra tests) and if you’re a good team player. If you present yourself well and clearly in your application and come with a bunch of similar experience to the job you’re applying for; the first question is often answered before even starting.


Most of the focus of a lot of interviews are about the personal and team aspect. How are you as a person and do you work well with others? This is where you can shine with your passion, interests, the way you present your work and yourself.


  • Are you an “I … I … I” or a “We … we … we” person?

  • How do you handle difficult questions?

  • Are you easy to talk to?

  • Listening or talking over?

  • etc.


Being good at your job is the first step. Presenting well that you will do a good job is the actual reason you're hired.


Thanks for reading,

Jimmy Ockley (Recruiting Supervisor, Animal Logic) and Alexander Richter


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