Author Topic: What questions should I ask in an interview?  (Read 8875 times)

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Cheryl

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What questions should I ask in an interview?
« on: Jul 11, 2006, 07:19 pm »
I recently graduated from college with a BFA in Theatre, Stage Management, and in the middle of applying for Assistant Stage Management positions.  I know that when I interview I should have a list of questions ready about job specifics, the theatre's organizational structure, etc etc.  Can you give me more examples of questions that would be helpful so that I'm not surprised by anything when I start work?


Some questions I've thought of (or gathered based on past topics posted here) include:

-When do I start work?  When in the rehearsal process do I start work? 
-When day do I end work? 
-What are my days off?
-What times are rehearsals held?  What is the policy on lateness?
-Will I be working with a run crew, or is it just me backstage during the show?
-Will I be organizing scene changes?  (Or rather WHO organizes scene changes?)
-Will I be creating the backstage routine?
-Who is my supervisor?
-What is the company policy on reimbursements?
-Will I have access to a computer, printer, xerox machine?
-Does Stage Management have a budget for supplies?
-What are my specific responsibilities?
-Technical Director?  Prop master?  Master Electrician? (Who exactly makes up the production staff?)
-How do the SM and ASM communicate during the show?


I think some of these questions I can figure out before the interview. 
What else should I ask?
ALSO, what questions are most important to ask?  I feel like I could go on and on asking questions, but after a while it would get annoying.

smejs

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Re: What questions should I ask in an interview?
« Reply #1 on: Jul 11, 2006, 07:41 pm »
I think you've got a great list of questions going.

One I've learned to ask is "What is the parking situation?"  If you have to shell out 4 to 8 bucks a day to park there (or more), versus a huge free parking lot or assigned employee parking pass, that's a big difference in your budget.  If you have mass transit available, this is of course less of an issue.

You may also want to ask if the work computers are MAC or PC...though the use of a flash drive certainly makes this less of an issue. 

If you don't already know, ask about the theatre conditions....proscenium house?  fly space? trap room?  And if you already know, say something like "I was looking at your website, am I correct that you have a proscenium theatre?"....etc.

Erin

Mac Calder

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Re: What questions should I ask in an interview?
« Reply #2 on: Jul 11, 2006, 10:43 pm »
A I don't like to ask too many specific questions during a job interview, however a few that I do like asking:

Will I be working with a team that has been working together for a long period (ie company crew and SMs)?
What is the policy on appearance fees - if any?
What contract will I be under?
What is the pay period (weekly, fortnightly, monthly, lump sum) - and if the later, run as fast as you can unless they pay in advance (fat chance)... I have done fringe jobs, lump sum at the end of the run... These sorts of companies are often the sort that don't end up paying.

As you are an emerging (A)SM - program credits. Will you receive them (some companies don't credit run crew, flymen, ASM's and operators, only crediting SM's (sometimes), designers (this includes directors) and actors).

ljh007

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Re: What questions should I ask in an interview?
« Reply #3 on: Jul 12, 2006, 08:44 am »
I ask a TON of questions before I sign any contract - I've just been through too much by now, and am adamant about protecting myself.

Your list so far is great! One thing I usually nail the company to the wall about is cell phone reimbursements. You might find yourself on the phone constantly solving production problems, holding conference meetings, calling perpetually late actors, etc. Tell them what your plan is, and ask if you will have enough minutes by their estimation. If you need to increase your plan, they must pay the difference. If you go over your minutes, they must pay the overage costs. (They can't quibble about your personal calls - the point is, you wouldn't be going over your minutes if it were not for your work calls.) This can be extremely costly, so be sure you have extra-clear boundaries and guidelines about this. If it's an away gig, of course get lots of info on your housing (roommates? appliances? internet access? TV/DVD? air-conditioning? who cleans the place?). This is another place where you can be burned - and if you're going home to a rent-a-dump every night, you'll be in a foul mood all the time.

I usually ask all these ?s of the company before signing the contract. I also ask the director a lot of questions before we begin: policies on visitors, food, attire in rehearsal, taking breaks, their blocking/time tracking habits, things that drive them nuts in general, things that will make their day, etc.

A word of encouragement - ask ask ask these questions! Don't let them make you feel like you're pushy! These are issues that any company (professional or not) needs to address when working with their SMs. So even if they get that edge in their voice as they say "[Sigh] No, we won't cover parking expenses. No SM has ever asked that before." Fight for what you need! Maybe you're undertaking a labor of love and will just write that parking off on your taxes later. But you deserve to know that going into the gig.

Cheryl

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Re: What questions should I ask in an interview?
« Reply #4 on: Jul 12, 2006, 01:49 pm »
I was refering to what the SM and ASM will use to communicate during the show.  Headset/walkie talkie/our personal cell phones.

Thanks everyone's for the advice!

--Cheryl

Mac Calder

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Re: What questions should I ask in an interview?
« Reply #5 on: Jul 14, 2006, 12:01 am »
Ooohh That mobile phone one is a question I must write down - I have always just taken it out of my budget and not a word has been said, it never occured to me that I may be able to get them to give me an allowance for phone calls etc.....

*Pulls out pad an pen and appends it to the question list*

MatthewShiner

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Re: What questions should I ask in an interview?
« Reply #6 on: Jul 14, 2006, 07:18 pm »
Just to play Devil's Advocate . . .

I would be careful about asking too many questions at the first interview.

Often, asking some questions that are either obvious or overly basic at certain levels raises a red flag.

For example, if you are interviewing for an equity position, asking "how many days you get off per week" or "how often do I get paid" read as someone who does not really know the contract they are applying for.

I think one should divide the questions into two parts:

1) Questions for the interview - that would make or break this job. 
2) Questions when you are negotiating salary etc - the second round.

Always remember, everything is the business is usually negotiable.

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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

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