Hiring. What we are looking for in candidates.

Vanilla Video is a growing company, and we’re looking to hire long-term employees. That is, we don’t want to waste our time training someone, if said person plans to only stick around for less than two years. That’s probably the case for most businesses though, nothing new. I’ll offer my insights into what we’re looking for, the application process in general, and why I think joining our team is an exciting opportunity. We’re pretty laid back here, but don’t get the wrong impression of who we are or what we are about.

Don’t be naive. Don’t ask competitors to teach you

Please know that Vanilla Video is not a place for freelancers looking to get their start and build their own business. That would make them a competitor, and it wouldn’t make sense for us to invest in training and capital. I’m shocked by how many freelancers and students contact us asking if we can train them, so they can compete with us. The answer is no. Obviously.

Vanilla Video is a retail business, with full and part-time positions. Meaning we do not subcontract work to freelancers, and employees can not operate competing services while working at Vanilla Video. We’ve made it clear on the videographer application, employees are subject to a DNC (Do Not Compete Agreement). Handing out business cards or otherwise promoting competing services to our customers will result in immediate termination, and potentially further actions. This is kind of a sore point, because it should be blatantly obvious or common courtesy. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, as the saying goes.

The video production market is extremely competitive, with thousands of hobbyists, freelancers, and more established businesses fighting for a piece of the pie. As a young video professional just starting out, one should not expect to get out of school and open a business (or freelance.) You will need several hundred thousands in savings, a strong network, an amazing portfolio, a dedicated team to handle various areas of business, and a damn good plan for acquiring customers beyond dumb luck recommendations. There’s no way we are going to hand over trade secrets, strategy, and insights to some newcomer because they just graduated and are eager to learn. That’s great, I’m happy for them, because learning is cool. But business means life and death for the families that count on the incomes. This is not a party, this is survival.

Vanilla Video for video production job seekers

Besides all that, Vanilla Video is not an a creative agency, nor is it a way to express love of art or video. We’ve had applicants complain that “We don’t get it” and they wouldn’t want to work for a company that doesn’t appreciate art. Mother fuckers, listen up. We do get it. We appreciate art. We have artists here that know their shit. But art doesn’t always make money. What matters to us is giving our employees a stable paycheck–for their wellbeing and their families. 

We are vehemently capitalist. We believe in providing a damn good product, that isn’t subject to the whims of an individual artst’s preference or experimentation. Every video production has to be top notch quality. We believe in transparent and consistent pricing. That means being open, honest about our costs with customers. We also believe in giving customers what they want. We are one of the few production houses that respect customer wishes. So many boutiques say “no we don’t do that” or “that won’t look good” or whatever the case may be. We deliver what clients want, and not what we think looks best. That’s a godsend policy for thousands of businesses and people who have their own opinions different from our own. If you are against all this, whatever. 

We are not your average videographers. And we’re not your average business. We sincerely care about customers; it’s part of why we have straightforward pricing, a lot of transparency, and many of the policies we have in place. We also sincerely care about our employees and providing good pay and benefits. That’s why we won’t subcontract to freelancers. We don’t believe in a “freelance industry” ridden with hard to come by work, fulfilled by part-timers racing to the lowest bid. 

What Vanilla Video looks for when hiring

Do not send us your credentials. Do not send us your reel. We seriously don’t care. We train videographers and editors in the same style for product control / consistency and so you can easily understand other projects happening around you. If you send us your reel, or other examples of your work without us asking first, we will automatically trash your application for not reading the most prominent instruction on the application. It’s likely that every project you’ve done is too far removed from the work at Vanilla Video, i.e., it’s all irrelevant.

We are looking for personality traits and characteristics of your work ethics. We want to ensure you are a good culture-fit within our work environment. We want to ensure you can represent Vanilla Video professionally and courteously, especially since most employees will speak or work directly with customers. That means applicants should be presentable. They should be friendly. Our work is all to do with making customers happy. What we really want in applicants, more than anything else, is an eagerness to learn and an excitement to help customers. We value good service, and employee attitude is an essential component of all good service.

Good applications aren’t really that hard. A shoe-in applicant would (this probably applies to many other business too) spend at least ten minutes reading our website, trying to understand what we do and who we are. Carefully follow application instructions, and prove you are actually interested in working here and not just applying for any job opening. Show us you’re interested in being a part of a team and are personable. You don’t need to dress up for us, but make yourself presentable, be confident, but seriously relax, relax, relax.

The application process and video interview

Our videographer application form is online. You will usually get a response within one business day. It’s an easy application, and it should take no more than 5 minutes to fill out. The longest part is the video interview, which may take 15 minutes at most. Hint: you’re doing it wrong if spending longer on it. We started requiring the video to reduce the number of job inquiries we received from freelancer competitors trying to leverage our network to build their own. There’s a checkbox at the bottom with a heads up about the DNC. Again, you cannot freelance in video production while employed here. This is obvious at most companies, but our industry is especially bad.

The video interview doesn’t need to be complicated. You should start with an introduction, clearly speaking your name and stating your intention to apply for an open position. Then, talk. Truthfully you can opt to talk about something else other than our questions. Companies pick dumb talking points sometimes. So talk about whatever you want if you don’t find those questions particularly appealing. Regardless of what you choose talk about, you should relax and be yourself. Use some of your video knowledge and light yourself appropriately. Frame the shot the best you can if using a webcam. We specifically made it a submittable video for a reason. Do a simple cut and splice edit of your video application if you want, just don’t go crazy. Cutting to the relevant parts is fine, and different scenes are fine. Do not add effects. Do not add texts or graphics. Do not add any music. Be friendly on camera. Think of it as a sandwich:

  • Introduce yourself. State your name and the position applying for.
  • Answer the questions provided or talk about something of your choosing, passionately.
  • Remind us who you are again, by stating your name and position applying for. Say thanks for taking the time to watch my video interview. Pleases and thank you’s, even if fake, work well.

That’s pretty straight forward. I recently had to do a record-once video interview via a webcam with no option for cutting or submitting a pre-made video. Nerve racking, and terrible questions to boot. I hate video applications as much as the next person, but if we didn’t require it we’d have dozens upon dozens of applications coming in per week. By submitting a video interview, you’re already among the best of the best. More courageous than those too afraid to do it!

But seriously, just relax and have fun with it. We ultimately don’t care what’s said, just be friendly and presentable, demonstrate an understanding of video, have fun, relax, and don’t be cocky. We aren’t against freelancers. We’re against elitist freelancers. Stay down to Earth. Be real.

Why join the team at Vanilla Video?

One of the best things about us, from an employee perspective, is that we try really hard to only hire at 40-hours per week. That’s not the case for a lot of retail work. That’s not the case for a lot of freelance workers. We provide consistency. We also provide cool benefits on top of the standard stuff. Free iPhone and full phone service. New leather / dress shoes every 6 months. We’re looking into providing gym memberships. Free uniform shirts. That’s all good, but future growth holds a lot of upside for everyone in the company.

We have a long-list of new locations in the roadmap, and plan to open over a hundred stores across the US. When you come to Vanilla Video, you’re going to learn a lot more than making good video. We’re going to teach you how to run an entire location, operate our software and specially designed systems, work and manage other team members, work with customers and learn how to manage various projects. We like to say that only 20% of what we do is the product, the video.

I think the biggest reason to join Vanilla Video is because we offer a stable, long-term career in video production with decent pay and benefits. We’re trying to stabilize the middle-ground tier for videography. There’s a lot of overlap, and wasted resources, having so many freelancers offering the same service. Example, one camera / audio kit can be used by two (or more) videographers — same for our editing work stations. But even better, our website, customer service operations, and special softwares allow for more efficient coordination overall. The sheer volume of projects allows us to give consumers better pricing, buy higher end equipment, and offer higher level services that aren’t possible to do as a freelancer. Not to mention time off and vacation days. 

We’ve worked really hard at making it possible to give video professionals full-time careers, without the need to freelance. We are deeply committed to our employees, our customers, and growing this business. We’re trying to improve the state of the industry, from all sides. The video production market has gone into a deep neglected state that is unfavorable to freelancers, consumers and any person who wants to DIY. Technology, economic conditions, and consumer demand have changed a lot of perspectives on video. It’s rough. It’s hard. But we’re working through it.

Join our team if you’re not turned off by all this rambling!