How to Approach Major Recording Studio for a Sound Engineer Job
Ian Davidson is Director of Virgin Studios, consisting of The Town House, Olympic Studios and Manor Mobiles.
If someone is looking for a job in a recording studio, should they write, telephone or call in person?
We only normally look at people's letters. We check what credentials they have via their letters and CVs. If someone telephoned we would ask them to write or we would be taking calls all day. We do keep everything on file.
What really happens to the letters?
In actual fact about once a year we have to have a clearout. We just can't keep everything. We also grade them as they come in. Some are actually hopeless so we write to them and say sorry we haven't got any vacancies, but the ones that are potentially good we do keep on file, and when we have a vacancy we go back six or eight months and pull out all the good ones.
If you did have a vacancy, what would you be looking for in the letter?
Someone with a reasonable education. Not necessarily A-levels but someone with five or six GCSEs of reasonable standard, hopefully including music and some technical subjects. We also like people who have got their own recording equipment, although it may only be very basic, people who have simple synthesizers, sequencers or little PC systems. We definitely would be more interested in them than people who haven't got any knowledge of recording music at all. We also would look at people who have done courses, although I am not a big fan of them, especially the completely private ones, because they are taking money off kids who at the end of it have not got much of a chance of getting a job. Nevertheless, if people have been on these courses, that's quite high in our priorities.
What age group are you looking for?
Around 17 to 19 is the ideal age. Although I say that, we have some quite experienced assistant engineers in their late twenties who are really good, but that is an unusual situation. They would have to have some unusual credentials to start at that age. So the older they get... The more likely they are to be set in their ways. What we like to do is mould the people into the way we work. It's not heavy or anything but people might pick up bad habits from other studios. If people have been at other studios for three or four years before they come to us they may do things differently. We like to take them fresh from school or college and train them in our own way.
What would you look for in the interview?
Just to endorse all of the reasons that they are there. Obviously we have picked them out from a CV. We would need to develop a conversation with them with regard to what's in their CV and get a bit deeper into it and point out that it's not as glamorous as they think. I'll tell them they are going to be working lots of hours and see how they react to all that. Normally people who have got to the interview stage know what they are going to be doing -- making tea, coffee, running errands, things like that. And personality is important, I want to see if they are particularly nervous, or if they are particularly cocky they may not go down too well. Something in between is what we are looking for.