There’s a long road from a raw footage to an excellent film, documentary, or video advertisement. The devil is in detail, and everyone in the film business knows that an editor, and not the photographer or anyone else from the team, makes the ultimate difference between an average and excellent film. Honestly, editors should get more credit than they do at the moment, though $50K annual salary (average number in the US) isn’t bad either.
They say that connections matter the most in film business, and it is obviously true. But even if you have a good connection, you will have to do well in an interview. And you can get this job without knowing anyone in the film studio, as long as you excel in your interview, and convince them about your video editing skills.
Let’s have a look at the questions you may face, and what you should say to make a great impression on the hiring managers.
Why did you decide to apply for this job?
You should address two things in your answer. The less important one is why you opted for a career of a video editor. You can relate to your studies, former experience, passion for video editing, or even certain things you’d like to achieve as an editor, the impact you’d like to have.
At the end of the day, young generation prefers to consume video content to text content, and the future is certainly in the video. Hence you can see a meaningful purpose in your job, and perhaps also try to change something in the world, or at least in your country, while working as an editor.
The second thing you should address, the more important one, is why their studio, company, film, etc. You should explain how the things they do resonates with you, both with your valuers and expertise, the editing techniques you use, and perhaps also the values you have and goals you try to achieve.
Remember that many big egos work in the film business and in the advertising business. The more you praise them in the interview (for their excellent work and whatever) the better your chances to succeed will be. So try to learn a lot about them, watch something from their production, and find something worth of praise…
Can you please tell us more about your video editing experience?
This is definitely the most important question in the entire interview, and your chance to show off. But talking won’t be enough in this case. You should prepare a few short clips on your laptop, the samples of your best work.
It can be scenes from some films you edited, or even a comparison of some raw footage with the final result of your work. Of course if you got any prizes for this or that work, you should mention it. The same goes with any special effects and editing techniques you used while working on the presented videos.
But remember that this is an interview, and not a movie festival. The video clips you show them should not exceed ten minutes in total. Simply pick your best works, and use them to demonstrate your excellent editing skills.
And you should also get ready for some follow up questions, such as “How long did it take you to crate this video?”, or “What was the budget for this project?”
What video editing software do you have experience with?
You shouldn’t sound like a newbie at this point, talking about free programs only. Sure, a good editor can make some magic with any software, but professionals work with robust video editing solutions, which are never entirely free.
Whether you mention Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Curt Pro X, or Filmora, you should always mention how long you’ve been working with this or that software. You can also praise your computer skills, and overall experience, ensuring the hiring managers that you have a capacity to learn to work with any new software.
Describe a time when you struggled to meet a tight deadline.
The most common problem in the entire film industry, not limited to video editing, is meeting deadlines. But editors have it even a bit tougher, because they often receive the materials too late, or the directors aren’t satisfied with this or that thing, and they have to make another correction, change this or that shade, or even remake something from scratch.
Now, you should ideally describe a situation in which you eventually met the deadline. Your attitude matters though. Narrate how you got an unrealistic schedule, but did not give up. You worked for 14 hours a day, long in the night, and eventually you made it and met the deadline–or you missed it just by a day or two.
You can also explain how you prioritized your work, or let everything else go and focused on the particular project only, trying to meet the tight deadline. As long as they see that you care, and are ready to sacrifice something for your work, they will be satisfied with your answer.
What are your salary expectations?
The budgets for various projects differ vastly, and the same is true for video editor salaries. A guy working in one studio can make 100K a year, while another editor, just few blocks away, doing almost the same work, will earn just 30K. It’s not fair, but that’s how employment market works, at least in this field.
Hence I suggest you to let them make the first offer. You can say that you have no particular expectations, and are aware of the situation in the industry. But you do not see into the books of their studio or company, and how much they can offer to pay to a great editor like you. Hence you’d love them to make the first offer.
Another alternative, if you apply in a big company where many editors work, is saying that you will happily accept the standard starting salary they pay to all new editors. There’s always some room for career growth and salary raise in big companies. Once you prove your skills, they will pay you more. Or you will leave them and benefit from having this experience on your resume…
What are your expectations on the directors, photographers, and other people you will work with in this studio?
I suggest you to focus on communication in your answer. You should not expect someone to tell you exactly what you should do, or even to do the work for you. But they should definitely explain their expectations clearly, for each project, as well as deadlines and other important things.
You can also say that you expect them to be open for discussion, and receptive to constructive criticism. That’s very important if you aim to make the very best final pieces of work.
But you should not say that you expect them to work as hard as you do, or to be qualified for their work, etc. It’s just not your business to care about these things, to consider their qualifications and capacities. As long as they give you the material to edit and express their goals clearly, you are good enough to go and do the best possible job…
Other questions you may face in your video editor interview
- Whose work do you admire, and why?
- At the moment, do you cooperate with any other film studios or freelancers?
- How do you feel about working overtime when the deadline approaches?
- Have you ever worked on a project that was a failure? Can you explain the reasons why it failed?
- What does quality mean to you?
- What motivates you the most in your work?
- Tell me one thing about yourself you wouldn’t want me to know.
* You can also download the full list of questions in a one page long PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later:
Conclusion, next steps
Interview for a job of a video editor belong to tricky interviews. Everything depends on two things: your portfolio, and the way you can demonstrate your skills and right attitude to work while showing them your best works.
And that’s exactly why this is a tricky interview. If you are just starting out in the editing business, it will be hard to make the breakthrough. You may be forced to accept jobs that pay peanuts, while you see older colleagues earning twice as much as you do, doing the same work, or even not really doing anything excellent.
But that’s how it goes in this business, and we cannot change the rules from our position. In any case, you should not give up without trying. Even if you have just one piece in your portfolio. Prepare for the questions, show enthusiasm, and use this one piece to demonstrate a variety of skills, and your huge potential… I hope you will succeed, and wish you good luck!
May also interest you:
- Salary negotiation tips – Try to get as much as you deserve in your meeting with the employers. Learn how to identify your negotiation power, and get the most of it in the interviews.
- Guide on how to overcome interview nerves – Feeling nervous before the start of your interview? We can help you overcome your anxiety.
- 15 most common interview questions and answers – What are your weaknesses? Why should we hire you? Learn how to deal with some typical questions that you can face while interviewing for any job.