10 things NOT to say in a TV job interview

In any other industry, an interview is a predictable beast. A set format. Wear something smart, sip your iced water in the board room, answer direct questions about your relevant skills and training for the job in question.

As we all know, in TV, an interview can often start with actually making your own tea with your interviewer in the office kitchen, and end up being either a long and casual chat about everyone you know in common (barely touching on the role), or a complete grilling by someone terrifying and distracted by their iphone before they rush off to a commissioner meeting.

Either way, and however senior you are, we believe there are some golden rules for any ‘chat’ that you are invited to. So here are 10 things you really shouldn’t say at interview…

  1. “I don’t watch much TV”. Rule one of any interview in this industry. Even if you’re going for the cleaning job there. ALWAYS have something to talk about that you’ve watched recently and either loved or hated! And ideally, you have an insatiable appetite for good content across the board – not just scripted box sets…

  2. “What sort of programmes do you make here?” Nope – there is no excuse for not looking up a company’s output and making a note of the programmes you’ve watched or haven’t. Always do your research on the company and the person you’re going to meet. It always provides useful snippets of conversation for informed small talk if nothing else.

  3. “Oh actually I’m not available for those dates.” Be as specific as possible about your availability pre interview – your interviewer’s time is precious and they don’t look favourably on people who use the opportunity to get in the door for other things – unless you make this clear beforehand.

  4. “I don’t think I want to work in TV / Fact Ent / Development in the long run…” Even if you’re not sure what you want to do in the future, you must be passionate and excited by the opportunity in front of you  – or don’t go for it!

  5. Don’t say too much. Waffle is a killer. Answer succinctly, watch out for the glossing over of eyes or checking of a phone as your signal to stop.

  6. Don’t say too little – it’s just as painful as waffling. Not everyone is an all-singing all-dancing interviewee, and that’s fine, but if an interviewer is talking more than you, you need to pipe up.

  7. Never make things up on your CV or inflate your credits / skillset – everyone knows everyone, you’ll get found out. That has happened a good few times in our experience, and it doesn’t end well.

  8. Don’t forget you can take in notes as a prompt in case you get a mindblank. It can also look professional and well prepared to do so

  9. Don’t offer to negotiate on your rate before they’ve reacted. If they ask, state your rate and keep quiet. Usually at first interview they’re gauging your ballpark cost – negotiation can happen on offer

  10. Don’t be late (without a very good excuse and best possible attempt to let them know – a grovelling phone call is best!)

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*Talented People is an Equal Opportunity company and always welcomes applicants from all backgrounds and circumstances*

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An Executive Search and TV production staffing company. Passionate about telly, we once produced the stuff we now staff.