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Interview Prep

I had an interview yesterday for a writer’s PA gig on a new TV show. My last few interviews have gone pretty well, so maybe I walked in a little too cocky.

It turned out to be my worst interview in years.

Part of it were elements beyond my control. While in the lobby, I heard the EP’s assistant telling the EP that he had found the perfect guy for the job. He went on and on about this guy. (“This guy” wasn’t me.) It definitely put me in my head. I’ve also never been a writer’s PA. Actors aren’t the only ones who get pigeonholed in Hollywood.

But a lot of it was my fault. The interview was boring, and I let it show. I’ve answered the question, “What do you ultimately want to do?” so many times that I could recite my answer forwards and backwards. When he asked me, “What’s your work ethic like?,” I almost laughed out loud. I’ve never been asked that before, and I couldn’t figure out what the wrong answer could possibly be. (“Uhhh, I’m lazy and I love lolcats.”)

The inanity of the question doesn’t excuse my response. I should’ve taken it in stride. I should’ve handled it like a professional.

What Would Mr. Pink Do?
What Would Mr. Pink Do?

For next time, I’ve got to do some prep. I’ve got to put some forethought into my answers. I’ve got to show that my experience fits in nicely with the responsibilities of the job I’m looking for. I’ve got to be less of a goober.

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One Response

  1. I have worked as a Writers’ PA, as well as the assistant to an EP, and I have run some job interviews both on television shows and for positions at other companies that had nothing to do with television or the entertainment industry, so I suppose I speak with some experience and possibly authority.

    Unfortunately, what you have experienced is really just terrible form. As I see it (and, obviously, I wasn’t there), very little of it was your fault. What the EP’s assistant did was not only unforgivably tacky, it was also stupid. Why say those things at all when somebody could possibly hear? Why say that you have found the right person before the interview process is over? Wait until everybody has finished before you start making any decisions. If I had to take a guess, I would say that that assistant started at an agency. It’s just a guess, but I really cannot stand people who start at agencies– not to mention the showrunners who hire them.

    Furthermore, if the interview was boring, that’s because it was not well run. This is not at all uncommon for the television industry. I worked for an executive search firm, a company that specializes in interviewing people for jobs. I know how a good interview should go. It should be involving and challenging but also give you the room to present yourself in a positive light. I have almost never had an interview like that on a television show. It’s usually either some egomaniac writer or producer who wants to show off or somebody who has no idea what to say and asks vague questions that can’t be answered in any specific, helpful way.

    On top of all of this is the fact that you are totally qualified to be a Writers’ PA despite the fact that you haven’t held that specific position before. Have you ever purchased groceries in your life? If so, you are qualified! I don’t know what the other candidate could have said in the interview that made him perfect for the job. For better or worse, the fact is that those jobs usually go to somebody who knows people on the show simply because picking a candidate among many is actually very difficult when simply owning a car is probably the single most salient feature to look for.

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