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DreamWorks Animation Interview
Questions

30 Questions and Answers by
| Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.

Question 1 of 30

If you could take any tech related coursework, what would you choose?

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DreamWorks Animation Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    If you could take any tech related coursework, what would you choose?

      Many universities and colleges offer coursework for those who want to continue their education without committing to a full course load. Alternatively, there are a plethora of options for online coursework which allow you to gain or strengthen skills on your own time. It's vital to DreamWorks Animation that you have an interest in developing yourself and continuing your education. Share what area you would focus on, for continued education, should you be given the opportunity.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I have always had a sincere interest in philosophy and how human nature works when it comes to technology. If I could take any course, I would take one that touches on technology's impact on society. I would also like to take a course in Ethical Issues in Computing."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "If I could continue my education in any way, I would choose to take even more coursework on 3D animation. The technologies are always changing as are the professional techniques. My goal is to always be on the cusp of changes and trends in this industry."

  2. 2.

    DreamWorks Animation requires fluency in C++ and/or C#. Please rate your skill level from beginner to expert.

      When rating your skill level in a particular tool, software, or language, you can discuss your level of expertise in terms of beginner, intermediate, advanced, and expert. This ranking allows the interviewer to gain a quick understanding of where your skill level currently sits. Of course, in the film production and services industry, knowledge of common languages such as C++ and C# will often be a requirement; depending on the job title for which you are interviewing.

      If you are not familiar, C++ is often used in developing different games or in gaming engines. C++ is excellent for developing the suites of a game tool. C#, on the other hand, is a bit newer, arguably more comfortable to understand, and is considered general-purpose. Discuss your fluency in each and give yourself a skill rating.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I am fluent in C# and would rate my skills as an expert level. I use C# daily for a range of projects, including website application development. I am familiar with C++; although rank myself a touch lower - perhaps as an intermediate user. I completely understand this language but do not use it as frequently."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I am a beginner level in both C++ and C#. I did take a small amount of coursework in each while completing my Computer Science degree; however, I have a lot to learn. I will dedicate myself to new online coursework so that when I join the DreamWorks Animation team, my skill level will be beyond beginner."

  3. 3.

    What will you accomplish in the first 90 days of working for DreamWorks Animation?

      It's a good idea to have a 30, 60, and 90-day plan set out when you go into an interview. This approach is especially important when you are applying to a management or sales based position where you are expected to take immediate action and produce quick results. You can jot down a few ideas or create a slide presentation with graphs - whatever makes you most comfortable! You can discuss numbers, training achievements, pain points the interviewer has mentioned in the past, or how you plan to fit in with your new team.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "In the first 90 days, I plan to fast-track my training by spending time on the weekends and evenings studying your systems, portfolio, and the technology that you use here. I believe in doing everything faster and better so you will see results and accomplishments from me very quickly."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I would like to accomplish a few things in my first 90 days. After giving it some thought, I believe the best action I can take is to get to know each member of the creative team whom I will be supporting. Some people like communication via phone, some in person, and others prefer a quick email. I plan to learn how everyone prefers to communicate. Next, you mentioned that a few of your projects are running behind at the moment. I want to be a help wherever I am needed, to get you back on track as soon as possible."

  4. 4.

    DreamWorks Animation employees often work overtime to meet deadlines. How do you feel about crunching?

      Crunch time or 'crunching' is how the tech world often refers to overtime. It's no secret that, putting in extra shifts during tight deadlines is not uncommon. Some developers and creatives even claim to work 100+ hours per week as deadlines approach. Discuss with the interviewer how far you are willing to go, for your team, while keeping a healthy balance. If you currently put in crunch time, you can mention how you deal with it in your present job.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I fully expect crunch time then and now, as important deadlines approach or unexpected issues arise. In my current job, I have worked up to 80 hours a week. Although rare, it is taxing but expected from time to time. I am willing to put in overtime within reason. Could you share with me the expectations at DreamWorks Animation?"

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Crunching is a necessary ask in this industry, and I fully expect to put in overtime hours for DreamWorks Animation when deadlines approach, or as unexpected needs arise. Do you ask for overtime from your employees regularly? I am happy to work as part of a team, in any capacity required of me."

  5. 5.

    Walk me through your understanding of CG. Which CG technologies and tools do you lean on the most in your current role?

      The interviewer wants to see that you have a complete understanding of how computer graphics software is used to make computer-generated imagery for films, television shows, games, virtual reality, and more. There are a wide variety of CG technologies and tools available to you. Be sure to take note of any tools mentioned in the DreamWorks Animation job posting. Discuss which of these align with the tools that you use in your current position or previous roles.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I explain CG as the art of making computer-generated images and digital graphics used in visual media. The CG technologies which I use most often, and am most comfortable with, are Bryce and Lightwave 3D. These tools allow me to 3D model, render, and animate with ease. I see that you use these tools at DreamWorks Animation. Your job posting also mentioned the use of Blender in this role. I have been teaching myself this tool in my spare time for the past 18 months. I feel comfortable using Blender for graphics editing, rigging, smoke and fluid simulation, sculpting, match moving, rendering, compositing, and soft body simulation."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I know computer graphics to be computer-generated imagery. The use of CG is everywhere today, including film, television, video games, ads, and more. While obtaining my degree in New Media and 3D Computer Animation, I used tools such as Autodesk 3ds Max and Cinema 4D; which are both mentioned in your job posting. I would rank myself as a beginner in these since my experience is limited to my time attending post-secondary. I am eager to become an expert in these tools, and more; becoming a solid contributor to the CG team at DreamWorks Animation."

  6. 6.

    Talk to me about the most creative or innovative project you have worked on.

      Working in the film, television, and media industry requires a great deal of creativity, innovative thinking, and ability to go against the grain. The interviewer wants to see that you have what it takes to be successful in these types of projects. Discuss a recent project that required a great deal of creativity and innovation from you. If you have samples of this work, be sure to include it in your portfolio.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "This year I had the pleasure on creating a series of gamification ads. I had never mixed gaming and marketing like this before. I have examples of this work in my portfolio, which I would love to share. The final product was a hit with our client, and their ROI was double what they initially forecasted."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "My final project for my Experimental Animation Major would be my most favorite and creative to date. I have samples inside of my portfolio that I would be happy to walk you through. I built the majority of the animation using Houdini, which was a huge accomplishment, considering I am primarily self-taught in that application. I received the highest grade in the class for this project."

  7. 7.

    Give me a recent example of a valuable lesson you learned from a problem you faced at work.

      One of the best aspects of problem-solving is that you always have the opportunity to learn from the experience. Seeing problems as opportunities to grow is what makes you an excellent employee! Show the interviewer that you can learn valuable lessons when there is a problem at hand. Use a work-related example, if you can. If you are new to your career, think about a time when you learned a valuable lesson in university, or while volunteering, or while playing a team sport.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I recently had an employee express their disinterest in the job and the company. Rather than coach them out, I selfishly wanted to 'save' the employee. I put in extra hours mentoring and training her only to see her quit anyways. It's a valuable lesson as a manager to put your energy into those who want to be there. Other efforts are often just a temporary fix for the inevitable."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "My university courseload is always shifting, so I often learn new, valuable lessons when it comes to organization and prioritization. One lesson I recently learned was to double check my schedule for changes and updates. I accidentally handed in an assignment two days late because I dropped the ball on double checking deadlines. My lack of attention to detail at that moment was a bit embarrassing, but I did learn a valuable lesson."

  8. 8.

    Which career development goals have you set for yourself this year?

      The interviewer would like to know that you are motivated to better yourself personally and professionally. Career development can come in many forms:

      - Conferences
      - Trade Shows
      - Seminars & workshops
      - Reading
      - Podcasts
      - Online coursework
      - Finding a mentor

      Discuss with the interviewer how you plan to develop yourself professionally this year and be sure to tie it into how this goal will benefit their company, should they choose to hire you.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "The career development goal that I have set for myself this year is to learn Python on a deeper level. I believe the use of this programming language will grow in the next few years, and I want to know everything that I can, to be even better at my job."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "The professional goal that I set for myself recently was to find a mentor to assist me in my career. Being newer to my professional career, I felt it was important to consult and meet with someone more seasoned than I. This move to have a mentor can only benefit me and, down the road, I hope to return the favor to someone else who needs a mentor."

  9. 9.

    How do you transition between the creative and analytical sides of working in the creative entertainment industry?

      Wearing multiple hats is the name of the game when it comes to the creative entertainment industry. One moment you could be discussing the analytics of a past project where the next you could be giving your opinion on the design of a new character or storyboard. It's essential that you show the interviewer your ability to be flexible on the job by pivoting tasks regularly. If possible, give an example of a time when you were able to flip between creative and analytical.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I believe that I transition quite well between the creative and analytical. Generally speaking, I am more of a creative minded individual; however, my experience in business has allowed me to see the data and analytics behind a successful project. So, in addition to my creative approach, I also ask myself or my team how our decisions will impact the company's bottom line. If hired, I will deliver a nice balance between analytical thinking and creative mindedness."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "My educational background was initially in data analytics. This coursework means that I am naturally inclined to look at data such as numbers, results, spend, account activity, and ROI. With that said, I spend my spare time in creative writing, designing new characters, and other activities that relax and entertain me. I believe that I will pivot well between the creative and analytical requirements of this role."

  10. 10.

    How do you establish relationships with the creative community in our area?

      This question is meant to dig a bit, to find out about your networking capabilities as well as how deep your passion goes for the film industry. The interviewer would like to see that you spend your time getting to know the film community and other creatives in your network. Discuss what you do, outside of work obligations, to get to know your industry peers.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I have been an active member of the Animation Society for the past four years. I try to attend as many gatherings and events as possible. I have met many excellent connections through this group, and will continue to be a member for years to come."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "For the past couple of years, I have taken the time to volunteer at many independent film events and film festivals. I was the President of my university's New Filmmakers Initiative, a group of aspiring film creatives who worked together to open doors for new opportunities in the industry. It's essential to me that I am part of something bigger than I am. This way, I continue to learn and grow through the knowledge of others who are more experience in the world of film."

  11. 11.

    DreamWorks Animation is seeking someone with in-depth knowledge of FX techniques, workflow, and software. Are you familiar with tools such as Houdini, Maya, and RealFlow?

      Most animation and creation studios will use Houdini, Maya, and RealFlow so the interviewer will want to know how familiar you are with these standard industry tools. If you are not familiar:

      - Houdini is a 3D animation software application
      - Maya is a 3D computer graphics application
      - RealFlow is a simulation tool for the 3D and visual effects industry

      Be prepared to discuss how familiar you are with these tools. You can tell the interviewer, on a scale of 1-10 how well versed you are, or you can rate yourself from beginner, all the way to expert. Discuss the projects you have worked on that required these tools. You can also mention how many hours you believe you have spent working with these tools and applications.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I am very familiar with Houdini, Maya, and RealFlow. I have worked with these applications, and similar tools, for the past eight years of my career in production and animation. I would rate myself an expert level user in Houdini, and I lean on it daily to create multiple iterations and rapidly share workflows with my team members. I use Maya daily, for modeling, simulation, and rendering in animation, motion graphics, virtual reality, and character creation. I am an intermediate user in Maya. Although I have just one year of experience with RealFlow, I did pick up on it quickly. I appreciate how fast and easy it is to use and the fact that its compatible with nearly all 3D platforms."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I am a 3D and Experimental Animation student, ready to graduate just two months from now. At this point in my education, I have completed a variety of modules using Houdini and Maya. Although the experience is somewhat limited, I do have a basic understanding of how to use these tools for animation and motion graphics. I am eager to learn even more from the team at DreamWorks Animation."

  12. 12.

    What is your experience collaborating directly with Directors, Heads of Story, and other artists across departments to brainstorm ideas, shape our films through visual sequences, and develop cinematography, staging, and cutting?

      DreamWorks Animation needs to know that you can handle the collaborative and cross-departmental work required of you in this role. Discuss your experience when it comes to cross-departmental and cross-functional collaboration. In production and media, it takes many passes through many hands to complete a project so, it's essential to DreamWorks Animation that you can work well with other people through a variety of departments. Give an example of how you collaborate with a diverse team in your current role.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "In my current role we have a staff of 450 people within ten departments. Any given week, I will collaborate with Directors, Heads of Story, and Animators. These are the departments with which I collaborate most often. Most of the time, the tasks that I collaborate on include brainstorming ideas and tweaking sequences. I believe that everyone has a great deal of value to offer, so, for that reason, I embrace every opportunity to collaborate cross-departmentally and cross-functionally."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I love having impromptu brainstorm sessions with my group when working on collaborative projects in school. The high-level ideas that come from group collaboration keep me on my toes. Being a recent graduate and new to my career in production, I am eager and willing to work with and learn from a variety of DreamWorks Animation talent, throughout multiple job functions and departments."

  13. 13.

    Do you have experience with NUKE?

      Most major animation studios will require experience with NUKE or NUKEX. NUKE is a node-based digital compositing application used for television and film post-production. NUKE is known to be a go-to tool for studios such as Walt Disney Animation Studios, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Sony Pictures Animation, Double Negative, and of course, DreamWorks Animation. Without going into too many details on how NUKE works, discuss your level of experience with this application. If you are newer to your career, or inexperienced, be sure to mention your willingness to learn.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "While working at Sony Pictures Animation, I used NUKE daily. I taught our newer team members how to navigate the application as well. Over time you could say that I became the subject-matter expert in NUKE. Most of my teammates would come to me first with questions on the applications' features."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I have heard of NUKE and am eager for the opportunity to be introduced to it and trained in it, officially. I know that most major studios use this application so, to prepare myself, I have spent a few hours watching online tutorials. I look forward to mastering this application over time."

  14. 14.

    At DreamWorks Animation, we strive to be on the cusp of innovation in artistry and technology. What does the word 'innovation' mean to you?

      DreamWorks Animation boasts award-winning artistry and innovation. The term 'innovation' is often overused in business these days and has now become a buzzword that many people don't fully understand. The interviewer would like to know what you feel innovation indeed is. Include an example of a time when you have witnessed an innovative change in the workplace, or when you have exercised creativity.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I encourage my team to be innovative by asking the impossible of themselves, and their coworkers. We will get together once per week and bring up situations that we think are out of our scope and then reverse engineer these ideas to see how we could go about putting them into action. To me, this is being innovative in the workplace."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "To me, innovation means presenting a new idea or making an existing idea better. It's important to be innovative in the workplace, but often it's a misunderstood concept. A time when I have been innovative was when I built a new tracking system for my projects while attending university. I wanted to create a more accurate way to track my deadlines as my schedule became busier. My fellow students loved the idea, and soon, I was sharing the system with my friends and classmates."

  15. 15.

    Tell me about a time when you improved communication between yourself and a co-worker or client.

      The interviewer would like to know about a time that your communication skills improved a work-based situation. Possessing the skills to enhance communication in the workplace is a precious asset. Talk about a time when you used your excellent communication skills to improve a potentially harmful situation with a co-worker or client. Perhaps you saved the fate of a project, were able to reiterate the intention of an email before feelings were hurt, or you helped a cross-departmental effort to go smoothly.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Recently, we were working with a client who continued to change the direction of our work. Our team was heading down one path, and before we knew it, the client expected us to go another direction. I suggested that we hold a weekly status touch base call to ensure better two-way communication. This approach worked very well, and we were able to get the project back on track."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "In my current internship, I am often the first point of contact for clients, which means that my communication style needs to be crystal clear. Before the team begins a new project, I have a set of questions that I ask the client. They are discovery questions, and I then pass onto my executive. The answers come directly from the client, so no assumptions are made. It's always first-hand information that I am providing."

  16. 16.

    When planning, how often do you create alternative scenarios to help you adjust to changing situations?

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  17. 17.

    Do you consider yourself more analytical or technically savvy? Why?

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  18. 18.

    Are you more comfortable in a startup environment, or with an established company?

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  19. 19.

    How deep is your knowledge in animation terminology?

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  20. 20.

    Which character animation systems have you used in the past?

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  21. 21.

    Do you have more experience working on feature films, television shows, comics, or games? With which focus are you most comfortable?

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  22. 22.

    At DreamWorks Animation, you will be handling multiple projects at a time. When have you nearly missed a production timeline due to disorganization?

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  23. 23.

    Have you worked directly with technical artists, animators, and gameplay engineers?

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  24. 24.

    DreamWorks Animation juggles many significant projects simultaneously. How do you prioritize multiple projects when they all seem equally important?

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  25. 25.

    DreamWorks Animation has a legacy of touching audiences through memorable characters and emotional stories. How will you contribute to this legacy, if hired?

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  26. 26.

    How do you push and inspire your teammates to solve creative problems?

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  27. 27.

    This role requires a Bachelor's degree or equivalent experience in Computer Science or similar field. How does your education background apply?

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  28. 28.

    What experience do you have using team-based messaging applications?

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  29. 29.

    DreamWorks Animation hires and develops the best, most globally diverse talent. Do you have experience working with those different from you?

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  30. 30.

    Tell me about an error or mistake you made because of a breakdown in communication from you or one of your team members.

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