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Test editing during job interview

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Kinga BrooksTest editing during job interview
by on Nov 16, 2012 at 7:15:06 pm


What is your opinion about test editing during job interview? (for example: "Please note that you will be editing a test clip as part of the interview process")
-Is it legal so ask someone to do that?
-Do you think if a company who does that sounds legit?
-Should I agree to go to an interview like that if I have lots of credits and years of experience?
-And finally: how to protect yourself from being taken advantage of?

Thank you,

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Steve KownackiRe: Test editing during job interview
by on Nov 16, 2012 at 8:17:22 pm

In a way I do this all the time. Anybody contractor who edits on my gear is under scrutiny. I wouldn't think it illegal for a potential employer to request it; a friend who applied at Prince's Paisley Park Studio had to it. Somewhere on this forum years ago it was stated that "not using keyboard shortcuts lowers you compensation by about $10K per year." I totally agree. Using a mouse to click menus is slow and amateur.

They are probably looking at your true skills, your file structure, organization, familiarity with the basics to see your real abilities.

I think it would be fun actually. Be all about soft skills first - communicate to make sure you know what they are looking, an expected timeframe... professionalism. Anyone can grab the mouse and start hacking away; but who can understand the job & the client. You may get the job by saying they have an unrealistic expectation given the volumes of content and timeframe, but if you offer and outline a solution I think you'd be in a good position.

Good luck!


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Kinga BrooksRe: Test editing during job interview
by on Nov 16, 2012 at 8:45:42 pm

Thank you Steve.
I don't think I would have problem if an employer asked me to just demonstrate my technical skills, but I am a bit concerned if they ask a candidate to produce a creative work for testing purposes. What is the guarantee they won't use it later? Shouldn't I ask for a kind of copyright disclaimer?

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Steve KownackiRe: Test editing during job interview
by on Nov 16, 2012 at 11:31:11 pm

I didn't really think of that; that would be a bit underhanded! In that case I would think they would ask you to sign a release that what you create is their property. So if you get a letter to sign, that would be a flag for sure and I wouldn't want to work there based on their poor ethics.

So I guess it would be up to you to take that risk.


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Simon RoughanRe: Test editing during job interview
by on Nov 19, 2012 at 10:22:29 am

The BBC made me do something like this a few years ago too. I just think they want to see with their own eyes, that you can do what you say you can do.

A picture is only as good as the glass it comes through. And the person using the camera has something to do with it too.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Test editing during job interview
by on Nov 19, 2012 at 4:36:29 pm

I would look as this as a welcome opportunity to bypass all the HR department folderol and get to know the people you will actually work with and show them what you can do.

If you are that concerned that they are just tricking you into working a free day, you could I suppose erase the work files after you show them the final. But as has been noted already: if your spider sense is alraedy that suspicious of motives, you're probably not going to be a good fit anyhow.

As to their rules about keyboard shortcut use affecting how much they pay you, I don't agree with this. Every editor does things a little different, sets up his or her workspace and prefs differently, and none of that should matter as long as the product gets done on time and done well. An all-keyboard-driven approach may be efficient, but if the mouse-mover can keep up, a difference that makes no difference, IS no difference, to my mind. A client can't look at the work and tell if the editor used the shortcuts or the mouse for any part of it. I use both, and I'll stand behind the results, the methods should be of little concern.

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Timothy GeraldRe: Test editing during job interview
by on Nov 20, 2012 at 10:47:12 am

I don't think its illegal unless the test clip is a copy righted video. How else can the interviewer really test the applicant's skills?
NYC PR Firms

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Mark RaudonisRe: Test editing during job interview
by on Nov 20, 2012 at 3:50:22 pm

Consider it an "audition". If you were trying out for the symphony orchestra, they'd ask you to stand up and play. If you were up for a role in a film, they'd ask you to read a scene. If you're trying out for the football team, you're going to run some plays. I don't care if you're a rookie or a veteran. Sometimes you've got to prove yourself.

I NEVER hire someone without seeing what they can do behind the keyboard. Plenty of people can talk a good game, but in thirty seconds I can tell if they know what they're doing with an NLE.

By the way, these "auditions" last no more than a half hour. Anything longer than that and somebody's just trying to get free work out of you. The "Audition" is more like a flight instructor checking out a pilot. Do you know how to multi clip? Check. Digitize? Check. Chromakey? Check. OK. Both engines have flamed out and you're going down. How do you recover a project from the attic? Oh... I'm sorry... you're dead!

You can establish technical skill level easily. Creative accomplishment is more difficult and for than I rely on references, credits and reputation.


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Kinga BrooksRe: Test editing during job interview
by on Nov 20, 2012 at 6:39:51 pm

Thank you everyone for all your insight. I think the duration of test as well as what they ask me to do would be a good hint. And yes, I would be suspicious if a recruiter asked me to spend all day on editing a full piece of something that they might use later.
In the meantime I did a bit of my own research and found an interesting point coming from the graphic design world:

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Stephen SmithRe: Test editing during job interview
by on Dec 11, 2012 at 8:57:41 pm

When I hire someone I rarely look at their resume. I'm into results. At one point we asked people to rate their FCP skills 1 - 10 and everyone was a 10. When we had them cut something for us it was easy to see what number they really where. I think a test run is a great idea. The news station I worked at for a while did it, the company I now work for did it and still does. I guess that means I passed the test.

But really, I'm looking at your personality. This gives us a chance to interact and see if we get along. Our company is way to small to have employees fighting. I think the fact that everyone who works at Lone Peak Productions really likes each other and gets along helps out on the super late nights and for getting things done.

Go knock em dead!

Stephen Smith
Utah Video Productions

Check out my Motion Training DVD

Check out my Vimeo page

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