3 Quick and Dirty Interview Tips for Your First Hollywood Job

career, interviewing, job search

This is an email I got from Tim O.:

Hi Chris,

I’m going into an interview today with CBS [redacted] Assistant position that supports three executives and I thought to myself: who better to ask for advice from than Chris?

I appreciate any pointers you can send my way going into this interview. I know you’ve been there before.

Thanks! Hope all is well with you, sir.

Sincerely,

Tim O.

tim interview

My reply:

Too much for an email. 🙂

Feel free to call me, I can talk for the next hour.”

First, Tim is being quite literal when he says, “I know you’ve been there before” as I once assisted for three executives myself.

Second, a few emails later, I learn that Tim’s interview is in less than 4 hours(!) away.

Don’t do this. A week, three days, even the night before… take a second and think about who could possibly help you. Then ask them.

However, since plenty of people will inevitably ignore that here are:

3 Quick and Dirty Tips to Ace Your Hollywood Interview

1. Don’t list your experiences in chronological order

This alone puts you in the 90% percentile. I promise. Just do this one thing.

In resume writing/interviewing circles, there’s an expression:

“Have a narrative.”

But what does that mean?

It means: Tell your story…

And frame that story around how you can help your potential employer.

One way to do this: Start at the end. Begin with your most recent experience and how that can help them… if you’re hired.

Here are examples of what I mean:

UNEMPLOYED TIM: I went to highschool in Florida and when I watched FOREST GUMP for the first time, that’s when I knew I wanted to work in film. So I went to college at Poduck University and blah blah more irrelevant information the interviewer is already bored…

EMPLOYED TIM: I recently completed an internship with CBS, where I worked for John Smith and Jane Doe. Day-to-day, I focused on X, but I also did Y, which helped me with [skill or knowledge that’s perfectly applicable to position].

While Employed Tim engages immediately with “how I can help you,” Unemployed Tim is well-intentioned but has literally lost this opportunity with his first twelve words.

2. Address their major concerns BEFORE they do

How do you know their major concerns?? Do your research on the company or employer before stepping into the interview (yes, it’s going to require some work).

For an assistant position, however, the concerns are typically the same handful:

  • Have you covered a desk before?
  • Are you confident on the phone?
  • Have you worked for this level of an executive?
  • How green are you to Hollywood?

In Tim’s case, this is a position to work for 3 executives. So their major concern is:

“Can our assistant handle 3 desks?”

Here are examples on how to address their concern:

UNEMPLOYED TIM: I’m really organized, I communicate well and have an amazing work ethic.

EMPLOYED TIM: I spent a lot of time thinking about this job, and I imagine a big concern is, “Can our assistant handle 3 executives?” And I actually have experience in reporting to multiple supervisors [at this role]. What I did was [how you handled it] and what I learned from that was [lessons learned from that experience].

Employed Tim shows he’s thought about this position and is confident he can handle it. Unemployed Tim shows he can breathe air and chew gum at the same time (if he concentrates).

3. Don’t talk about your goals

…unless they explicitly ask you.

Since people love to talk about themselves during interviews (which is the WORST possible time to do so) I’m going to repeat that:

Don’t talk about your goals unless they explicitly say: “I want to hear what your goals are 5 years from now.”

Most won’t. Why would they?

Frame the conversation around their goals, both when answering and asking questions.

Here are examples:

UNEMPLOYED TIM: Ultimately, I want to be writer but I think it’s important to develop my skills at a network first, so that I have a better understanding of the industry.

EMPLOYED TIM: Can you tell me what your goals are for the next 6 months, and specifically how I could help you reach those goals?

Employed Tim asks a question that almost no one asks, and will leave his interviewer pleasantly surprised. Unemployed Tim tells his employer they’re a stepping stone in his career path (yet he’ll still be confused when he doesn’t get the job).

Was this post helpful?

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Let me know, or send me your interview/resume questions. Preferably more than 4 hours before your actual interview.

7 comments… add one

  • Carlos

    Straightforward and helpful!

    • Chris Ming

      Glad you thought so Carlos! Thanks!

  • B.J.

    This is useful for any resumé in any field. Kudos Chris! Thanks for the tips 🙂

    • Chris Ming

      Awesome, let me know if you have any other questions, BJ!

  • Ahyiesha

    Hey,

    I’m moving to LA in January and I’ll initially be interviewing for a couple of months. I would then like to work as an assistant at an entertainment company…but I think my resume may suck right now. Would you mind looking it over and letting me know your opinion?

    • Chris Ming

      Hi Ahyiesha,

      Sure, I’d be happy to look.

      Let’s do a few things before I do.

      1. Write me an email: chrisming@fightingbroke.com
      2. Share 3 reasons why you think your resume sucks. Please be specific. Don’t just say, “I have no experience in entertainment” or “My degree is in communications.” Why exactly do you think it sucks?
      3. Share 3 things you think you can do in Los Angeles to make your resume amazing — so good a company would love to bring you on.

      Look forward to hearing from you!

      Thx Ahyiesha.

  • Debbie

    Hi Chris,
    Thanks for your site – it’s terrific! What are your thoughts on the best way to get a sitcom pilot into the right hands if the writer has no network? The hope is not necessarily to get the pilot picked up, but just to use it to show writing chops in the hopes of getting some kind of job with a path to a writer’s room.

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