The number of audio engineering students looking for employment is growing, and thus internship opportunities, as well as actual employment, are becoming more and more difficult to land. Here are a few key points to remember, mistakes to avoid making, as well as other things to pay attention to, in order for you to have the best chance of getting the opportunity!
Ok, you’ve sent your résumé to a number of studios, have heard back from a few, and are now on your way to your first interview. But remember to stay grounded…maintain focus on the task at hand: impressing the employer during the interview. You might be nervous, but keep focused. Humility is the main thing to be aware of, as well as practice. Too many new graduates believe they are entitled to an opportunity just because they’ve landed an interview. Big mistake! Keep in mind, in most cases all you’ve done is a couple of recordings for your final student project. While you can feel pride, it shouldn’t outweigh your humility.
Remember, you are the one being interviewed, not vice-versa. Make sure you’ve done your homework on the studio. Not researching is another huge mistake prospective employee’s make when applying for a position. How many rooms do they have? What sort of gear do they run? Do you know the names of their engineers; have you viewed their client list?
Always remember that, as excited as you are to be on the cusp of working in a world class recording studio, if you’re being interviewed in a studio, don’t touch anything. Unless the studio manager or interviewer wants to see what you can do on a particular console, just be calm, relax, you’ll get your chance. If you really know what you’re doing and have confidence in your abilities, you’ll be able to show them you do know the difference between balanced and unbalanced cabling.
Always be patient and polite, never interrupt, and while listening to each question, take a beat or two as if you are actually pondering the question, and then be completely honest when speaking about your experience. Another huge mistake many fledgling audio engineers make is that exaggerate their abilities. Often they want to prove just how much they know and get carried away promoting themselves. Another bad move: this industry is rather a rather small fraternity and everyone knows everyone. So if the word gets out you’re one to avoid, you will be avoided. Don’t exaggerate about the immense amount of experience you have if you can’t back it up. The worst thing you can do is talk yourself up, and then not have the ability to prove it.
Ok, you’re in the studio, have gotten past the initial handshakes and chitchat, and now it’s time to demonstrate your abilities. If you’re prepared as a result of doing your course work properly, you should have at least a modicum of confidence and should be feeling comfortable. Audio engineering is what you studied and you’ve learned from the best, it’s your passion, so now it’s time to perform for your audience.
One more mistake you can make during this process is not preparing a sort of check list your strongest skill sets as it applies to Audio Engineering. We all have strengths and weaknesses. So make sure you do a self review of the areas of your studies where you excelled AND, more importantly, can apply to the position your’ are seeking. Think about the areas in which you have shown the most skill during your coursework, and offer your talents in those areas. Don’t be afraid of offering a different approach to something. What you want to do is set yourself apart from any other applicants. You want your interviewer to see you’re an innovator, you’re pro active, and that you have a vision.
For example, let’s say you have done a miking technique that is different than what is being implemented, suggest it. If it turns out to sound great, you will be viewed favorably. The fact you weren’t afraid to offer constructive suggestions, offering solid advice, you immediately took steps to prove how valuable you could be to your employer. Even if it doesn’t sound great, you still show your ability to try new innovations. But it would be smart to have practiced any different techniques and make sure they do work.
No engineer knows everything. If you’re not sure about something, don’t make up an answer or solution you can’t stand behind 100%. You are much better off admitting you really don’t know. Again, a studio owner will respect you for your honesty. What any employer is looking for is honesty, dependability, and a strong work ethic.
Finally, the chief mistake I think many people make when they’re job hunting, especially in a specialized industry like Audio Engineering, is they only apply for one job and place all their hopes and dreams on that one opportunity. You rarely get the first job you apply for. So make sure you create more than one, two, or even three potential opportunities for you in your employment search.
In general, treat an interview like a first date. Both parties are trying to figure out if you’re a good fit, and if they will ever be a second, third or fourth date. So make sure you are prompt, early even.
So to sum things up:
- Don’t think you know everything
- Make sure you do as much research on the studio as possible.
- Relax and stay professional
- Prepare for each interview based on your research of that studio.
- Don’t expect to get the first job you apply for.
As much as I would like to say a studio owner looks for a brain full of knowledge, or an extremely high level of competence, I actually feel that straightforwardness, respect, and talent weigh in much more. Of course, if you do your homework well you can be more comfortable, making it easier to be straightforward and respectful, and making it easier to show the talents you have.
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