Preparing for an Interview

I know a lot of people going through the interview process right now and with graduation right around the corner even more people will be getting prepared for interviews. With that in mind I thought I’d write a mock interview as an example of some questions you may be asked and how to answer them.  I’ve always wanted to work with Disney Pixar, so for the purpose of this mock interview let’s say I’m applying for a coordinating position with them.

 

Interviewer: Tell me a little about yourself.

Katie: I’m a production assistant for production management at Sesame Workshop where I help with recording time sheets, submitting invoices, PA-ing on sets and any other production needs. In college I was the Concert Head where I put on the first back to back concerts at our school, with a $100,000 budget. I have a big passion for both the film industry and concert world. I like working with a group of minds to collaborate and create a variety of different visions into reality.

Be prepared to respond to this question with a concise response that also gives concrete examples of your experience and best qualities. This will be their first impression of you so it is important to have the right balance humility and confidence. It’s all in the word choice.

 

I: What interests you about this position?

Katie: I have always had a dream to work with Disney Pixar. I love the company culture and environment that allows for creative minds to grow. Every single Pixar movie I have seen has inspired me in some way. Most recently I feel in love with La Luna. I want to be a part of a company that inspires and impacts children’s eyes at such a young age. I want them to be wide eyed like the young boy from La Luna. I think everyone should be inspired by life and I believe this company feels the same way.

I’m ready to move on to the next step. I’ve worked hard as a Production Assistant and Sesame Workshop taught me a lot. I’m ready for a new challenge.

I really do love Pixar so I may have spent more time talking about that aspect of it because if I really were applying for a position with Pixar my excitement and passion would not be held back. Showing your passion for the company or position is a genuine quality the interviewer wants. They want to hire someone who will fit in with their company culture and someone who will come to work with a smile every day.

I: Where do you see yourself in 5 year?

K: In 5 years I’ll be turning 29 so I would hope that I would have started a family and held a steady position either as something in production management or as in a position leading towards assistant directing.

I like to answer the question with a short truthful answer that shows I am more than just a worker, I have caring human qualities and wants beyond work. As long as you answer it truthful, you should be good. If this is a job that will get you closer to where you want to be in 5 years, even better.

I: How would someone else describe you?

K: If someone else were to describe me I think, and hope, they would say I’m a driven, dedicated young professional who puts her full effort into every job she is presented with. She’s always willing to help and is a pleasure to work with.

Preparing for this question is a good time to think about the image you set for yourself. Think about how people really do view you. Take your best qualities and express them here.

I: What is your biggest weakness?

K: They say your biggest strength is also your biggest weakness. I fully believe this because I think my biggest weakness is caring too much. I’m always thinking about others, how they’re feeling, what else they need help with. I need to actively watch myself to make sure I take time for myself and carry a healthy work load.

This is such a tricky question! It feels like a trap if you’re not prepared for it. The best advice I can give is to state a weakness you are aware of and can control. In other words, don’t say you’re a compulsive liar who hates working… or something extremely obvious is not good like that.

 

I: Why did you leave you last job?

K: I left my last job because I moved to California to seek new opportunities with features, where as in New York most of my options were mostly in television.

(Or why are you thinking about leaving your current job?)

K: I’m looking to pursue the next step in my career to continue to move towards my goal of being a producer or assistant director.

I’m giving you to variations here because there are numerous reasons as to why you may be looking for a new job. It might be a logistical reason, like moving, or it could be a personal reason, like career advancement or pursuing a passion. It may repeat or sound similar to a reason why you are interested in the position, but that could just reaffirm your reason for applying.

 

I: Tell me about your experience at        insert past job here        . (I’m choosing Sesame Workshop.)

K: I’m so grateful for my time at Sesame Workshop. It was my first exposure to a television studio and work flow. I was given the opportunity to work with crew and talent. My specific duties were collecting and recording digital freelancers’ time sheets; kept track of my own petty cash of $800, and booked meetings, hotels, travels and conferences. In addition to my personal tasks I worked with any production needs from script distributions, runs, meal planning to the unexpected.

This is a pretty easy question. Just tell them what you did, what you were responsible for, and anything else you did to help or learned a skill from.

 

I: Tell me about a time when     fill in situation relevant to position here    .

Someone one asked me how I dealt with working with friends, so I will use that as an example here.

K: When I was Concert Head my senior year at Fitchburg State I had the challenge of managing a group of my peers and balancing friendships. I had to keep business and friendships separate. I did this by treating everyone the same. Everyone was encouraged to approach me with any questions about the task at hand or with any problems they had with my leadership. I was open to hearing any feedback, positive or negative. I made an effort to have dedicated time at the beginning or ending of each meeting to open the floor to anyone. I learned quickly to explain things fully, set clear expectations and deadlines. Clearly setting my expectations so everyone knew where everyone stood. When there was a quarrel I took advantage of having our adviser to have an unbiased point of view help us solve our problems.

With a question like this it is important to use an example. A story will illustrate how you work and stay in the interviewers mind.

I: What questions do you have for me?

This will most likely be the last question of every interview. I’m preparing another post with a list of questions you could ask, so stay tuned!

Do you have any additional interview questions to add? What was the hardest interview question you had to answer?

 

For more information on interviewing please go to my Interviewing Page here.

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8 thoughts on “Preparing for an Interview

  1. My veryyyyyyy first job interview I was asked if I’d be comfortable working on a pro-life campaign. I knew the company I was interviewing at worked with a pro-life client, but I didn’t expect to be asked about it (naive? i’m still not sure if i should have assumed i’d be asked about it!) I had NO clue what to say. I started with some filler about how abortion is obviously a hot topic, then eventually got around to saying ‘yes, I would be comfortable working those campaigns.’ I think the reason I was so thrown off was because A) Abortion is a really uncomfortable & difficult topic that’s hard for me (and a ton of people) to speak about and B) I didn’t know if I answered “no” if I would get the job. If I said “No” would they automatically not hire me and instead hire someone who could/would work on all campaigns? Blah! I did wind up getting asked for a 2nd interview, but then a few day later they cancelled it as they were put in a hiring freeze for a year..

    • That’s one I never heard of before. But, I suppose ethical questions can come into play depending on where you’re working. In your case it sounds like it was key to the business so it was appropriate for them to ask. I don’t think I would have been prepared either.

      It brings up a good point though… I don’t think it would be a good choice to sacrifice your own beliefs for a job. You shouldn’t ever have to compromise anything. It was good you thought about it and responded honestly. An interview it for you to interview the company as well.

  2. Thanks for this! It’s always interesting to see how other people handle different portions of the hiring process. These are all great questions and excellent answers.

    Once I was interviewing for a PR position at a boutique agency. They were looking for someone really extroverted, and even though I typically consider myself more of an introvert, I thought I could fake it or push myself to be more outgoing. At one point during the interview they said, “Talk to us for 2 minutes,” and then were silent while I struggled to find things to say. I think the hardest part about this question is that it caught me completely off guard. Looking back, I should have used that time to promote myself. Instead I babbled off random tangents of conversation.

    During a different interview I was asked to name 5 things I could do with a pencil besides write with it. This was actually a really fun question, but again, I did not see it coming.

    • Those are awesome questions. I love that people are commenting and sharing bizarre questions that I don’t think anyone would be ready for. I think the key to answering these questions is understanding that there is no right or wrong answer. The interviewer asks these questions to get a genuine observation of who you are. The interviewer can use your answer to these questions to see if you will fit in with the culture of their company.

      As always, thank you for sharing and for your support. 🙂

  3. Thanks for posting this! These interview tips are fantastic. I always struggle to come up with an answer for the above questions. I’m going to practice what I can say so that I am better prepared next timel. 🙂

    • Practicing may seem silly but it really helps in the long run. Your interviewing skills will dramatically improve. Someone once told me that every interview is another practice. So even if you had a “bad” interview, change your perception, think of it as a practice for improving your interviewing skills.

  4. Pingback: 9 Steps To Get An Internship | Ask The Young Professional

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