Over the past 28 years while working in animation, illustration, games, etc…I’ve gone through my share of interviews!
After a while, they just sort of become a carbon copy of themselves.
In this post, I want to share with you some insight into the interview process (at least from my perspective in being on both sides of the Interview table:
The interviewee, as well as being part of an interview team.
So you’ve made it through the ‘portfolio process’.
They’ve checked your credentials. Gone over your work history and experience.
Maybe you may have even received a call from one of the people that would be your lead on the project.
And now…..The all important Interview!
Now, I’ve always done very well in interviews. Mainly because I go in armed knowing what they essentially are.
For the most part, more often than not they are a sort of ‘personality test’.
Look..you already have proven through your reel and online portfolio etc, that you can do the work that’s required.
So they want to see how you do in the face to face area. What your personality is.
How you come off. And how you might gel within a team environment.
Even while the questions might seem like ‘art related’ questions,
what they want is to see if you’d be a ‘good fit’.
And yeah…it might seem a little on the shallow end. But it also happens to be the truth.
Now granted…this isn’t true 100% of the time.
That sure won’t be the case in the more ‘tech’ areas of the industry (such as programming, and things like that).
But in the art arena…they wanna know two things.
1) Is he a jerk or is he cool. (will this person be easy to work with?)
2) Is this person *fun*?
Now don’t get me wrong.
I think it’s fine and totally valid to see what ones personality is like. Believe me…
There’s something to it.
When I was working at my first game studio, we had someone come in for an interview.
I myself had just been hired and was not part of the team that was doing the interview.
He was coming in for an art gig. And he made it through. I’m guessing due to his experience.
To make a long story a wee bit longer, he turned out to be a complete jerk.
Arrogant. Snide, nasty, and if memory serves me right was even encroaching into the Art Director’s territory.
A big no no.
On the flip side, while there is something *to* the personality interview….I would say that there are also draw backs to putting TOO much emphasis on it.
Example: One of the times I was at E.A. I was asked to be a part of the interview team, as we were starting to flesh out the art crew for the upcoming project.
We had looked at the reels and portfolios of a bunch of people .
And settled on three people.
The process that was agreed to was a one on one with each person on the interview team. (a total of 5 if I remember correctly)
I was one of the first ones to go into the ‘one on ones’ .
I’d see the HR person lead the guy into the empty conference room, He’d sit for a bit waiting for us to enter. (Which were all scheduled for a certain time)
I grabbed my coffee…and headed on in.
“Toby” (name changed to protect the innocent. LOL!) was the first guy.
I could tell he was nervous.
Reading his bio and resume, he had experience but it was limited in the industry.
Yet….his work was fantastic! Great animation and very creative.
As I said…I could tell he was nervous. A tall fellow with a ‘dear in the headlights look’.
I said “hello!” He said ‘Hello’…so..off to a good start to my way of thinking!
I told him a little about myself. And what my job duties were at the studio. Then I asked him the same question I ask almost EVERYONE when I’m in the interview process:
“So! tell me a bit about yourself.”
“Toby” proceeded to nervously tell me about his experience and so on.
I cut in and replied “No no….look bud. Gonna be straight up honest with ya. These interviews are kinda silly. I hate doing them. (we both laughed)
I already know you can do the work. And so does everyone else here. And you can do that work well.
Again, just gonna be honest with you. At this point people just want to see how you’d mix with the team.
So, I just want you to relax. We’ve got 30- 45 minutes to kill here.
Lets just talk. About anything OTHER than work related crap. “
From that point, “Toby” looked like he had a ton of bricks lifted up from him.
We talked about his family. His Wife, his kids. How he liked Austin (we flew him in for the interview). His passions. His likes, dislikes and I think even about food!
He asked about me and my time here in TX. And about my work history. And he was thrilled to learn about my time working on “Iron Giant”.
We had a fantastic time talking. And the time went by super fast.
Upon nearing the end of our ‘interview’ time, I asked him if there was anything else he felt he wanted to ask or say.
He paused. And said that he’d been out of a gig for sometime. And was hoping that he’d get this gig for his family.
Looking at his work history…it was true.
I said “Toby…Here’s what’s gonna happen. There’s 5 people that you’re going to see today. At the end of the day, we’re all gonna get together in an office just like this and we’re gonna talk about’cha…as well as the others.
And I’m gonna fight for you.”
I continued, “I think you’re very talented. And I think personally that you’d be a great addition to this team”
“Toby” lit up like a Christmas candle.
“BUT….” (I said)…..”YOU… have to relax. And just be yourself. Know that you’re good at what you do, and be confident in that.”
I shook his hand. And told him “Good luck!” , and walked out of the room.
I felt his tenseness creep back into him as I left.
I approached “Chuck” pretty much the same way. Chuck was a different sort of personality. Kind of a tough guy. But not menacing in any sort of way.
Beard, stout, strong dude.
I could tell that he was using that toughness to hide his nervousness as well.
Once we got to talking, he loosened up. Although still in tough guy mode as maybe that was his comfort zone?
“Chuck” was definitely the most rounded artist of the three being interviewed.
We had a fantastic talk. So much so that they had to knock on the door and tell us we’d gone over the allotted time by 15 minutes!
I asked for just a few more minutes.
In that time, I told him the same thing I told “Toby”. That we were going to get together and make our decisions. But I had a great feel for him, and I was going to do everything I could to get him on the team. But as always…I could make no promises to him.
He seemed relieved that he at least got one vote.
“Alex” was the last of the group.
He was also the most relaxed of them.
We had a good talk. But I must admit, out of the three, I was the most cautious about him.
Mainly, because I didn’t know if I was being snowed.
His work was good. Not great.
And that’s fine…IF….IF he’s someone that can grow and work well within the team.
If NOT, and he’s an arrogant individual, then he’s going to be a drag for production as time is going to be spent working through whatever personality issues he may bring into the project.
And that’s not good.
At the end of it, I felt confident that he would be fine.
A confident guy. But someone that would work well in the process.
END PART ONE.
Next: PART TWO: “Making the case for Chuck, Toby and Alex”