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Job Interview Highlights

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jjbuttsJob Interview Highlights
by on Nov 14, 2007 at 10:44:16 pm

So, I had an interview this morning for a production company. They do really good work...mostly corporate stuff. Most of their editors are in their mid-late forties, and they are looking for a younger person to inject some "edgy" style into some upcoming projects. So, I go in to meet with them. Here are some highlights:

GUY 1: How old are you?
ME: 29
GUY 2: Great. We're looking to get some youth in here.

(While watching my reel)
GUY 1: This is really great stuff.
ME: Thank you.
GUY 2 (to GUY 1): This is exactly the kind of feel we need for so-and-so's project.
GUY 1: I was just thinking that.
GUY2: How long did that project take you?
ME: About 20 hours.
GUY 2: Great.

GUY 1: Well, I think I can speak for both of us when I say that we are very impressed with your work.
ME: Thank you very much. I feel the same about the work you do here.
GUY 1: Unfortunately, I think you're a little over-qualified for this position.
ME: (blank stare)
GUY 2: Yeah, I'm going to have to agree. From what I saw on your reel, I think you're work is very professional. You may be a little out of our league here.
ME: (blank stare)

Are you kidding me, people??? Over-qualified??? Too professional??? My resume reads more like "Who's That?" than "Who's Who." I have plenty of dog-crap projects under my belt if they'd like to see them...I just didn't put them on my reel because I want to get jobs! This is the third time in as many months that I've been told I'm over-qualified. If I'm willing to do the work for the price, who wouldn't want someone over-qualified???

I'm going to welding school. There will be a fully loaded Quad-Core G5 on the curb outside of my apartment if anyone wants to come haul it away for me.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Job Interview Highlights
by on Nov 14, 2007 at 11:06:41 pm

This was code for "we can't pay you what you're obviously worth".

Or, "We WON'T pay you what we know you're you're worth. Are you desperate enough to take a huge pay cut?"

You might counter with: "I was impressed by your operation and the kinds of clients you serve here...I sure would like a chance to work with you on some of these type of projects all the same; so how do you feel about taking me on sometime on a freelance basis, something to get you over the hump when you're backed up or need to add some extra manpower or a different approach on a short-timeline project?"

If you offer to go work-for-hire instead of regular salary, know that they will have to pay you a higher hourly rate, but less often, because they're only going to call you in for the "Hail Mary" plays, maybe to do some slick compositing or whatever your strength is, some low paid fulltime shlub will then plug that into his timeline and take the credit. And you have to carry your own health and benefits and taxes, etc. so that's why a higher rate for fewer hours. However, this arrangement can sometimes come out looking cheaper on the final billing sheet to the clients, so they may go for a package of a number of agreed upon hours at a defined rate per year. It would be nice if they paid some kind of monthly retainer, but it sounds like they're too cheap for that.

If you go over that amount, say 50% of what a salaried guy would have made in a year, they have to put you on salary with bennies or stop using you altogether. Below that point, you're a hired gun they call in as and when needed, but you're otherwise free to work elsewhere.

For ethical reasons some kind of limited non-compete memo would be apropriate, but nothing that would keep you from doing most work you want to do when not on their clock. This protects them from you swooping in to romance away the clients you're helping them retain.

You would still be free to do other projects the rest of each month.

Another way to look at your situation might be that you're finding a market niche that's underserved, with too many shops of old fuddy duddies that can't/won't do the new tricks. If all those guys are in the same market area, there might be enough business there that you could steal away some with a hot new boutique. You would have to do a lot of homework first, not just on the market and competition, but your real costs and if you can meet a rate that's sustainable yet competitive.

Anyway, don't get mad, analyze what they are telling you and not telling you, and see what you can make of it.

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David Roth WeissRe: Job Interview Highlights
by on Nov 14, 2007 at 11:21:44 pm

[jjbutts] "I have plenty of dog-crap projects under my belt if they'd like to see them...I just didn't put them on my reel because I want to get jobs!"

Okay JJ, get your ass over here this minute and wipe the coffee off my monitor...

Great post!!!

Did they at least offer to validate your parking, give you a quarter for the meter, or give you a cup of coffee for your time?

Or, did they at least ask if you'd refer some unimpressive, unprofessional, under-qualified associate?

David Roth Weiss
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles


A forum host of Creative COW's Business & Marketing, and Indie Film & Documentary forums.

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jjbuttsRe: Job Interview Highlights
by on Nov 15, 2007 at 12:00:28 am

They did gave me a bottle of water...but, adding insult to injury, it was one of those half-sized bottles.

[David Roth Weiss] Okay JJ, get your ass over here this minute and wipe the coffee off my monitor...

That sounds like a job offer to me.

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David Roth WeissRe: Job Interview Highlights
by on Nov 15, 2007 at 4:33:47 pm

[jjbutts] "That sounds like a job offer to me."

I think you're overqualified...

David Roth Weiss
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles


A forum host of Creative COW's Business & Marketing, and Indie Film & Documentary forums.

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Tom DRe: Job Interview Highlights
by on Nov 15, 2007 at 5:03:41 am


Sorry you didn't get the gig, but hey look at it this way, better to be overqualified then underqualified....

Don't get discouraged, the cream will always rise. There are plenty of opportunities out there for good talent. Keep plugging away.

You sound like you got a bright future ahead of ya. Don't worry about being "overqualified", keep improving.

Also remember to send a thank you card :)

Tom D

Final Cut

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Todd Georgedon't give up
by on Nov 15, 2007 at 4:36:10 pm

Hello JJ:

I read your post and I thought "THANK GOD IT'S NOT JUST ME"

I'll be honest you probably have a head and shoulder advantage over me

my background is corporate video (mostly marketing sales / consumer focus group stuff)

I have posted here on the cow and shared a version of my reel and I was torn a constructive and well needed new one

but like you I have been told I am over qualified (I was even told that by an NYC effects house that I wanted to intern for..I wanted to work for F***in free and they still said no!!!

I am fortunate in the sense that I have a gig (vidoetaping lectures at a college) so I don't "need" a new job but ....

the point being keep sending out the reel, if you are able to be flexible in you geographic location look in major markets (if you are not already) and always have a plan
best of luck to you

take care

Todd George
Instructional Media Services
John Carroll University
University Heights, OH 44118

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Timothy J. AllenRe: don't give up
by on Nov 15, 2007 at 10:47:14 pm

Mark S. is probably right on target... they don't want to spend the kind of money that you are worth.

Having said that, there may be another issue. They may simply think that your personality doesn't fit with the rest of their team as well as another candidate.

That's not necessarily a slight on you. It may feel bad that you aren't "invited into the club", but who wants to be a member of a club that doesn't value your natural talent. It's really better for them to say upfront that you aren't the best fit and give you a chance to go ahead and find a team that does gel with you.

The alternative of working for (and with) them might be getting a paycheck, but at the expense of having the life sucked out of you and not enjoying your day to day work. Nothing will kill your creativity and talent faster than working in a place that's incongruent with your personality, style and goals.

It may be that they think that you would not be happy and would probably move on as soon as you found a position that would fulfill your creative and financial needs better than they could. They don't want to invest the time and money getting you "up to speed" with their workflow and culture only to have you leave within a year or so.

Of course the third possibility is that they already had someone else in mind (a friend of a friend perhaps?) and were only giving you the interview so they can say they did a real search for the position.

Understand that recruiting is difficult on both sides. No one wants to mess up the hiring decision because making the wrong choice can really have long term effects on people's lives.

Have patience. Wouldn't you feel worse if you had a mediocre reel and were hired to do a mediocre job at a mediocre company? The money might make it o.k. in the short term, but it's much more fun to work at a place where you feel that you have an opportunity to grow and get better.

Find a place where most everyone who works there is BETTER at what they do than you are. Learn from them, share what you know with them, and enjoy being a part of things that become bigger and better than any of you could create alone. Then you will truly be able to look back knowing that you are a better artist and a more content person for being in THAT environment.


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Mike CohenRe: don't give up
by on Nov 18, 2007 at 6:36:09 pm

FYI - They are not allowed to ask your age, sex, marital status, religion, health status or favorite color in an interview.

As far as being overqualified, I would follow the advice of others and send a nice thank you note, reiterating your experience and willingness to work freelance. If they fail to hire someone with your chops for edgy editing, they may find themselves in a pinch and need your talents.

You need to learn, over time, to ignore personal jabs from other people. Even something seemingly positive like "you're overqualified" can hurt.

Good Luck.


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Steve WargoYeah, I weld...
by on Nov 19, 2007 at 9:52:07 am

I'm a certified welder and metal fabricator. I quit building off-road super trucks to get into video. In the race truck business, there were a lot of personalities but very little politics.

In the video (entertainment) business, there are a lot of strange people who have hidden agendas and really strange business practices.

As some of the others said, I would walk back in the door representing yourself as a part time freelancer. I have people that I hire on short term, high intensity jobs that drop in on occasion. you might want to visit a number of companies with the same approach.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
Sony EX-1 on the way.

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