You finally get an interview at your dream company, and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel -- a way out of a job that’s run its course. And then the interviewer asks you the one question you’ve been dreading: “What do you love most about your current job?”
How can you answer this? If you loved your job, you probably wouldn’t want to leave, right? Even in the best case scenario, where you like your job and are just ready for your next step, it’s hard to explain why you love your current job while communicating that you’re even more excited about the potential opportunity.
The trick is to pick an aspect of your current job that will serve you well in the new role. Think about what drew you to apply for the job at hand and which of your skills will make you an asset to the team. For example, if you’re an assistant at an agency applying for a coordinator job at a production company, instead of thinking about how much you hate your type A boss and the bro culture of the agency, describe how much you love reading clients’ materials, writing coverage, and tracking the industry. That will demonstrate you’re able to do the job and will enjoy coming to work every day.
Remember that the purpose of the interviewer asking this question is to see whether you’d be happy on the team -- and it’s an opportunity for you to suss out the same thing. In the above example, let’s say the interviewer responds by saying that the coordinator role is less about development and more about supporting current shows and securing resources for physical production. If that sounds like something you’d enjoy, you can express that you’re excited about the opportunity to learn more about that part of the process and see if you can thread in an additional related skill you acquired at the agency that will help you succeed.
But if you learn that a role isn't want you'd hoped for during an interview, it’s okay to express how you feel about it. Continue making a good impression during the rest of the interview. You may decide that the position isn't for you (and the hiring manager might agree), but when the right position pops up at the company, the interviewer might give you a recommendation. After all, you should be looking for a job that you love, one you can easily talk passionately about once you’re in the role.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
In any industry -- and especially one as competitive as Hollywood -- one of the worst mistakes a job applicant can make in an interview is coming in unprepared. If you haven’t done any research beforehand, it’s usually quite obvious, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to get tripped up at some point. The most impressive candidates come in clearly having done their research, and they’re ready to have informed conversations with their interviewer. Not only will the hiring manager appreciate that they took time to familiarize themselves with the company and its projects, but this extra step also shows that the candidate is motivated and detail-oriented -- key qualities any employer looks for. Plus, the best way to tackle nerves in any situation is to be 100% prepared and confidentin what you’re going to say. So what exactly should you research? Here are six questions you should consider before any job interview.
1. What are the company’s main projects?
One of the simplest ways Hollywood hiring managers weed out the truly passionate candidates from the ones who just want any old job in the industry is by assessing how much the interviewee knows about the company and what it does. When you're asked which of the company's shows you've watched or why you want to work there, you'll be expected to give an intelligent answer referencing the company's projects to prove you've done your homework and to make it clear that your taste aligns with the work they are doing. If you're interviewing for a network, show, production company, or studio, watch the content they produce. If you're interviewing for a job in representation, study the company's clients and their biggest work. To make an even stronger impression, formulate some relevant questions to show you’re genuinely invested in the company. Doing this research will convince the hiring manager that you're passionate and enthusiastic and will also help you decide if the company is the right fit.
2. Has there been any recent news about the company?
Take a moment to find out if the company has been in the news lately. Maybe a buzzworthy project has been announced, or perhaps the company has recently completed an exciting merger or acquisition. The information you learn from a quick news search may help you develop some thoughtful questions to ask at the end of your interview (and any negative press may alert you to some areas of discussion you may want to avoid). In fact, depending on the company, you may even be quizzed on your knowledge of current events -- one of the classic Netflix interview questions is whether you’ve heard any recent news about the company. As an added bonus, preparing for this type of question will also show your future employer that you keep up with the trades and current events, which will help make you an asset to the team.
3. Who will you be meeting with?
If possible, figure out the names and titles of the people you will be meeting with, and do a little online search to find out more about each of them. If the person setting up the interview doesn’t immediately offer up the names of the interviewers, it’s okay to politely ask who you’ll be meeting with. Use LinkedIn to get a better sense of your interviewers’ professional histories and job functions, and Google them to see if you can find any interesting personal facts. In an ideal world, you might discover some type of common ground that you can bring up during the interview to develop a more personal connection -- maybe you and one of the interviewers share the same alma mater or are from the same hometown. Think this sounds creepy? It isn't if you keep the references to your personal connections tame, like mentioning your hometown when answering the "tell me about yourself" question. But there is a line -- if the person you’re meeting with has a personal blog about her online dating escapades, you shouldn’t bring up your latest Tinder disaster. Take advantage of opportunities for small talk, but keep it professional -- remember, you’re not gabbing with your best friend.
4. How does the department function within the company?
If you can, try to get an idea of how the department you’re applying for fits into the larger structure of the company. The original job posting may provide a few clues. Sometimes the answer is very obvious, but in some cases, it can be a bit elusive. For instance, at a start-up, the company may not even be divided into distinct departments, so you’ll have to rely on job titles. Try searching LinkedIn to identify the various roles within the company and read any job descriptions you can find. You should also try to figure out exactly what projects the department (or individual) is directly responsible for. Even when you can’t find specifics, if you have a general sense of what the department’s function is, especially in relation to others, you’ll be able to highlight relevant skills that prove you’ll be an excellent addition to the team.
5. What specific qualities is the hiring manager looking for when filling this role?
The job posting should have given you a pretty good overview of the responsibilities and expectations of the role, and if it’s in line with your current career path, you probably know what you’re getting yourself into. However, your potential supervisor may prioritize certain qualities over others, so it’s ideal if you can get some insight into his or her personality before your meeting. This won’t always be possible, but if you can find a way to snag some inside information, do it. Did a friend pass along your resume to her contact in the department? If you feel comfortable, ask her to do a little extra digging to find out what they’re really looking for, beyond what’s on the job posting. Or maybe your former internship supervisor has recommended you for a position in a different department. He may be able to describe what the open position looks like day-to-day and what the hiring manager or department’s reputation is like within the company. Use all of this information to formulate interview answers that will showcase the primary skills the team is looking for. And, if there are any red flags you learn during this process, take them into consideration before accepting an offer.
6. What are some common interview questions you might encounter?
There are tons of online resources that list common interview questions and suggestions for how to answer them (including our very own resource page!). You’ll always get the famous “tell me about yourself” question, and you’re likely to be asked about your career goals and why you’re leaving your current company. Additionally, many companies have a few set interview questions that are unique to them, and you may be able to predict them with a tiny bit of extra work. Glassdoor can be a great resource -- not only does it list company reviews and salaries, but people often post about their interview experiences and what questions they were asked. You’ll also get the added benefit of seeing some unfiltered opinions about the company, which may influence your ultimate decision to accept or decline a job offer.
Does this sound like a daunting amount of research? Maybe. But if you’re serious about the job, you’ll spend an hour or two at minimum trying to get a better grasp of the company. Hiring managers assume that your effort at work will match (or be less than!) your effort in the job application, and they can tell when you haven’t spent any time studying. Not only will you ace your interview if you’re prepared, but you’ll be demonstrating your strong work ethic to the hiring manager who spends as much time gauging your hireability from subtextual clues as she does listening to your actual interview answers.
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
You’ve heard that your resume should be more than a list of responsibilities -- it's a story that explains why you’d be great for the job you’re applying for. But a lot of our clients struggle with what belongs in that story, especially when they're trying to convey results and accomplishments. Should you craft a bullet point about the time you saved the production $25K by switching to off-brand snacks for crafty? What about the new spreadsheet you designed to make reporting more effective, because your boss was using post-its to track everything instead of Excel? Is it relevant that you rolled calls for three bosses, one of whom had a serious temper? If you include too much information, you might start to sound a little ridiculous.
We often see candidates make the mistake of listing their key skills and illustrating them with “highlights” like the specific, detailed anecdotes above. Doing so often makes your resume harder for a hiring manager to parse through and may feel redundant. Plus, it can be tricky to convey the significance of your proudest accomplishment in just a few words. You'd do best to save some of this more nuanced information for the interview.
On your resume, you should want to focus on the big picture -- what are the key takeaways that will match the skills listed in the job posting? In the above examples, you might say “Managed production budgets and implemented cost-saving solutions,” “Created new tracking system,” or "Supported three executives." If you feel the need to get some results in there, that's fine, just make sure they're results that can be conveyed in a few words: "Implemented cost-saving solutions that saved $25K." Alternatively, you may want to add a little more about how you did something: "Created new system for tracking project submissions using Excel." This is okay too. What you'd want to avoid is: "Converted supervisor's post-it reminder system into an Excel submissions tracking system to increase departmental efficiency." See the difference? Don't make a mountain out of a molehill. It's a waste of valuable resume space and makes you sound silly.
But don't discount all of these great stories and accomplishments -- even if they don't belong on your resume, they're still very important! Save them for the interview. When you're asked about an achievement you’re particularly proud of, your biggest strengths, or how you managed a challenging situation, use these anecdotes as examples to bolster your argument.
It can be frustrating to look at your resume and not see the full picture of who you are as a worker. No one wants to be boiled down to a one page document that relies on bullet points and white space! But it’s important to remember that your resume is step 1 of your job application. You can supplement it somewhat with a cover letter, but the real moment to shine is the interview. Your resume should be simple, concise, and effectively communicate that you meet the basic requirements of the job at hand -- the last thing you want is for a hiring manager to get overwhelmed by the details and miss the bigger picture of your capabilities.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
More and more people are cutting the cord and finding TV through streaming options these days. That’s great for your bank account, but it could make applying for jobs in Hollywood a bit trickier. Why? With less access to cable content, you're going to have to do a little extra work to get through an interview successfully.
First, in any interview, you're inevitably going to be asked about the shows you're currently watching. This question is intentionally deceptively easy; a lot of job candidates stumble on this one, not realizing that it's as much about personal taste as it is about your qualifications for the job at hand. The interviewer is trying to assess whether you're able to work on the kind of content the company creates and that you've got your pulse on the industry as a whole. Cord cutters are especially prone to fumbling here -- without access to a full cable subscription, they tend to watch shows later or get sucked in by reruns ofFriends and The Office. But you don't want to sound behind the times in a job interview and talk about your newfound love for I'm Sorry when season two is nearing its finale on TruTV, and you're still catching up on season one on Netflix. The other issue cord cutters run into with the current shows question is only listing shows on the platform of their choice. This is especially important if you're interviewing at a company that relies on an old school linear model -- if you tell an interviewer that the only thing you watch is Netflix, well...let's hope you're interviewing for a job at Netflix. Try to have some go-to options from other sources. If this is your dream industry, you’d think you’d find a way to consume as much current content as possible!
Secondly, you should always make sure to watch relevant content before a job interview. For cord cutters, you might have to go out of your way to do this. How can you say you’re passionate about the open development assistant position at Lifetime when you don't have access to Lifetime’s current shows? You'll have to find a way to do a binge session and make it seem as though you've been watching the company's content for years. For a production company, network, or studio position, you should watch the company’s latest shows, and for a job on a show, of course you should watch past episodes (and/or the showrunner’s previous work). If you’re going to cut cable, you need to find an acceptable alternative that will allow you speak intelligently to a hiring manager.
A lot of cable companies offer free trials or let you watch a handful of episodes on their apps for free, or you can purchase episodes online. That said, we don't condone watching content illegally (and we certainly don’t advocate talking about it in an interview -- companies don’t want to know that you're stealing their content). Between Hulu, YouTube TV, Sling, DirecTV Now, CBS All Access, Prime Video, and Netflix, you should be able to find the combination of services that are right for you. Consider it an investment in your career and enjoy peak TV!