- Research the company. Before walking into an interview, you should know who you’re meeting with, what the department does, what the company’s projects are, and the latest company news. If it’s a production company, network, or studio, make sure to watch their top shows. You can never research too much, and we recommend spending at least an hour digging around to see what you can find (not including watching content).
- Practice answers to common interview questions. There are a few standard questions you’ll get asked in almost every interview, like “Tell me about yourself,” “What are your strengths/weaknesses,” and, especially in Hollywood, “What are your favorite shows?” Check out our resource library for a handy workbook that walks you through common interview questions, and make sure you have answers for all of them ready to go. It's best to practice these answers out loud, so you might consider completing a mock interview. By showing the interviewer that you expected certain questions and prepared for them, you’re letting the employer know that you’ll be an organized, reliable, and proactive employee.
- Know your story. In any interview, there will be some questions you won’t be able to predict. But you do know who you are and why you’d be good for the job. Think about your career trajectory and biggest accomplishments to date, and practice telling your story from the beginning. We like the technique of pretending you’re further along in your career and have been asked to share how you got to where you are. Imagine you’re on an alumni panel at your college, or you’re being interviewed for a major publication, or your grandkids want to know how you became successful. Choose of a frame of reference that makes you feel like you’re on top of the world and recite your story, including any achievements you’re proud of, any missteps along the way, people who’ve helped you, things you’ve learned, etc. Tell yourself your story in the shower or while stuck in traffic. If you do this multiple times, you’ll get a confidence boost and the muscle memory to pull up interesting anecdotes or examples when you’re asked unexpected questions.
You got the call for a job interview! Yay! But you can’t just roll into the interview in your best outfit and wing it. That’s not going to get you hired. Here are a few things you need to do to prepare:
When you go to a job interview, informational interview, or even a general meeting, you want to make the best impression possible on the person you are meeting. Obviously. But there are two other people that could make or break your chances of ever getting a job at the company -- the receptionist and the assistant. Even though they may not make the ultimate hiring decision, receptionists and assistants wield a lot of power when it comes to evaluating potential new employees. If you are rude or dismissive of the lower level people at the company when going in for a meeting, you can be sure that this information is going to get back to the key decision-makers.
Your relationship with a receptionist or assistant begins at the email phase. They’ll often be the ones working with you to schedule the interview, so make sure to use a friendly-but-professional tone in your emails, say thank you, and proofread, proofread, proofread. An email that's too formal (like greeting the assistant as "Ms. Doe" once she's already signed a note as Jane) or too friendly (opening with "Hey girl!!") is going to produce an eye roll or two, and you can bet that if you're email is riddled with typos, your potential employer will find out that you're not as detail-oriented as you claim to be. You should also try to be flexible when scheduling a meeting -- let the person you are meeting with dictate the time and place. Don’t make it difficult for the person scheduling on the other end. If you do, you’ll have made a bad first impression even before you’ve met.
When you arrive at an office for a meeting, greet the receptionist and assistant with a smiling face. Don't distract them with chit-chat while you're waiting unless they engage you first. However, if they end up walking you to a conference room, it's a good idea to make small talk on the way -- if they don't initiate, you can ask a few innocent questions about their day to ease the awkwardness. And if you see them again after a meeting, be sure to let them know that it was nice to meet them and thank them for setting up the meeting.
When you get home, in addition to the thank you note you send to the person you’ve just met with, send a separate email to the assistant or receptionist to thank them for setting up the meeting. Here’s your chance to lock in that good first impression. Even better, you may have an opportunity to create a new relationship if you’re at the same stage in your career as the assistant. If you felt that you had a good rapport with the person who helped schedule a meeting for her boss, you could ask her if she wants to get drinks one evening and continue to build up your network at that company (NOTE: You should only do this after an informational interview, not after a job interview.).
In Hollywood, every interaction counts. Assistants and receptionists are not likely to forget someone who was disrespectful, and they have the power to stop you from working at or with a company. On the other hand, they are likely to remember the person who was exceptionally friendly and kind to them and might even go out of their way to help when the time is right. So be that person. Very little effort and can yield extremely positive results. And besides, it’s the right thing to do.
You may have a few standard outfits that you rely on when going to a job interview, but what about a Skype interview? Those same outfits won’t always work on a computer screen. A Skype interview isn’t the time to make a wardrobe statement – you’ve got to keep it simple. Here are a few tips for figuring out what to wear:
1. Wear solid colors. Patterns will distract the interviewer and don’t always look good on screen. Choose a colored top (white can make you look washed-out), sit in front of a neutral backdrop, and avoid clunky jewelry. The focus should be on your face.
2. Dress as formally or informally as you would for an in-person interview. Try to figure out what the typical office dress is at that company and use that as a guide. For example, if you’re doing a Skype interview for a very buttoned-up corporation, wear a suit. We also recommend wearing the full outfit, not just a formal top with sweatpants. You’ll probably feel the part if you commit to dressing the part. But if you’re more comfortable on camera with your pajama pants on, that’s fine too (just make sure you don’t stand up!).
3. Dress modestly. This mostly goes for women – don’t wear a v-neck or sleeveless top to a Skype interview. The computer will make your v-neck appear more low cut than it is in real life, and showing off your shoulders will look too casual on screen. Find a modest blouse or dress that hits your collarbone and covers your shoulders. Short sleeves are fine.
Most importantly, test your outfit the night before your interview. While you’re doing your tech check, ask a friend to provide feedback on your clothing (and makeup, if applicable) and adjust it as necessary.
One of the questions we get very regularly is: “I keep coming in second after interviews. Hiring managers always say that they like me, but they end up choosing a different candidate -- what am I doing wrong?”
The answer: Nothing. Take that in. You’re probably not doing anything wrong. Think about it -- you keep getting interviews, so your resume and cover letter must be in good shape, and/or you’re reaching out to strong contacts. The interviewers are offering you feedback instead of just ghosting you -- a real rarity in this day and age -- so you must have made a good impression. But alas, you’re still not getting the job. The question isn’t "What are you doing wrong," it’s "Why aren't you getting the job?"
There are loads of reasons you can come very close to a great job but still miss the mark. First of all, maybe the company decided to hire internally -- a common occurrence. You don't have much of a shot against someone who already understands the way the company functions. Other times, someone else has a stronger contact at the company. Maybe you were referred by the assistant’s friend, but the boss’s friend also recommended a great candidate. That happens more often than you might think. Sometimes, the hiring manager can tell you’re great at what you do, but there’s someone else who fits in better with the team personality-wise -- this is especially true at small companies where they’re looking 40% for skill and 60% for a new best friend. What do all of these reasons have in common? They’re beyond your control, and you shouldn’t worry about them.
If you keep doing what you’re doing, you will land a job that’s the right fit. You’ll find a company where the stars align -- you have the right qualifications, a strong referral, and you get along great with the team. The worst thing you could now, actually, is change anything up or lose confidence. Don't forget that you're a highly desirable candidate -- it might take longer than you'd like, but you're doing everything right, so you will wind up with the job that's perfect for you.