It goes without saying that when it comes to animation job interviews, it’s a good idea to be prepared and get some pre-prepared answers in your back pocket to ensure a prospective employer doesn’t catch you out completely on the day.
On this page we’ve listed our top animation job interview questions – and our top tips on how best to answer these.
*Don’t forget; if you are looking for a new animation job, you can find lots of exciting vacancies in this area on our digital jobs board today.*
Q: Why Do You Want To Work For This Studio?
Obviously, the interviewer is asking you this question to test your knowledge of their company and to see how much research you’ve actually done before the interview. With this question, the right answer is ultimately going to come down to your individual situation and preferences, however it’s important to choose an answer which shines you in the best possible light. For example, it’s probably not a good idea to say that you want to work that studio because you know they’ve got amazing benefits packages – and they give their staff 30 days holiday per year. Instead, a better answer would be to say that you’ve got enormous respect for the studio and you’re a big fan of their work (name drop some examples) – and that you feel your specific skills and expertise, such as A, B and C would be a great fit for their studio.
Q: Which Is Your Weakest Piece In Your Portfolio/Showreel?
An employer will ask you this question because they want to see how well you know yourself as a candidate – and they want to see if you’re able to look at your work objectively. With this question, the right answer is obviously going to depend on your individual preferences – but it’s always a good idea to choose a piece of work which is completely unrelated to the role you’re being interviewed for. Why? Because if you choose a piece which is related to the role, you risk demonstrating to the employer that you’re not a good fit for the role.
With this question, a great tactic can be to choose a piece which you completed early on in your career when your skills and techniques might not have been as developed as they are now. This is also a great way of demonstrating how much you’ve progressed in the sector – and how much you’ve improved to get to where you are now.
Q: How Do You Handle The Pressure Of Deadline Changes?
This is a really common question when it comes to animation job interviews because deadlines are always being moved to cope with the demands of a busy studio and the different departments within it – so it makes sense that an employer wants to know that you’ll be able to stand up to this pressure.
When it comes to answering this question, it’s obviously important to react positively (eg. answering with “not well” really isn’t advisable!), but it’s also important to back your answer up with a fairly recent(ish) example. For example, you could say “I’ve got lots of experience in dealing with changing deadlines – this was pretty common at company A. I remember on this one occasion the deadline changed and was bought forward two weeks. This caused my team to rethink our strategy, which resulted in the project being completed on time and to a very high standard”.
Q: What Is Your Favourite Piece In Your Portfolio/Demo Reel & Why?
While this question is similar to the ‘weakest’ one, it’s also a bit different. Why? Because with this question, the employer is asking what your favourite piece is, not your strongest, so they’re obviously interested in hearing about your feelings and thoughts. When answering this question, consider which piece holds the best memories and which piece you’re particularly proud of.
Remember; with this one, they’re asking you about your favourite piece, so you don’t necessarily have to pick the piece which is classed as the most successful or the most effective. With this question, the employer is looking to get an insight into who you are as an individual – so whichever piece you choose, be sure to have solid reasons to back up your choice. For example, you could say you like piece A because you got to work with a great team – or you could say you like piece B because you found it particularly challenging, so you’re really pleased and proud of the end result.
Q: Where Do Your Strengths Lie As An Animator?
Again, with this question the employer is looking to see how well you know yourself as an animator and a candidate. A great tactic when answering this question is to look at the job spec/advert and see which skills they’re looking for which you actually possess – and then be sure to combine these into your answer. For example, if they’re looking for someone who’s a pro with 3D applications such as Maya and ZBrush, if you’re pretty confident with them, you could always name these as your biggest strengths.
With this answer, it’s always a good idea to name a few strengths which reflect your technical ability and some of your softer skills too. For example, you could say that your biggest strengths are your proficiency with Maya and ZBrush and your ability to work well under pressure and to tight deadlines. Why? Because this shows that as well as having technical ability, you also have the softer personality traits which are needed in this kind of role.
Q: What Has Been The Biggest Challenge Of Your Career So Far?
With this question the employer wants to hear about how you’ve been challenged in your career and what you’ve learnt from these experiences. When compiling your answer for this question, it’s a good idea to try and choose a challenge which relates to the role you’re being interviewed for because this will show the employer that you’re capable of overcoming the challenges which might crop up in this role. When considering which challenge to choose, consider which have been the most challenging and stressful periods/projects of your career – and which you learnt the most from. It’s also a good idea to choose a challenge which shines you in a good light – and one which you’ve actually learnt from. For example, a great answer would be to say “The biggest challenge of my career so far has been A because of B, C and D – and I overcame these by doing E, F and G. I’ve learnt H, I and J from this challenge – and this is now something I apply to my everyday work.”
Q: What Is Your Current Favourite Animated Film & Why?
With this final question, an employer is looking to get an insight into who you are as an individual and how you appreciate the animated work of others. Again, with this question, the right answer will depend on your individual preferences, however if you’re being interviewed for an animation job with a major studio such as Dreamworks or Aardman Animations, it’s probably a good idea to choose one of their films to win you extra brownie points.
When answering this question, it’s a good idea to give reasons (and technical reasons) to back up your answer. For example, you could say that your favourite film is Toy Story because you’re a big fan of the character animation, in particular the rigging and skinning techniques they used to build the characters. By mentioning technical aspects in this answer, you’re demonstrating to the employer that you have this technical knowledge and that you’re capable of looking at a third party film and analysing it critically.