Interview Tips for Designers

As  some of my friends recently got selected for job interviews and asking for tips so i thought i should share some popular tips shared by many other designers too who went through the interview process and now one of the successful designers in their area. 

Take Control of your Fear

If you’re nervous before a job interview, that’s alright. If you feel a little uncomfortable at the start of the interview, just admit to feeling a bit anxious, smile, and get on with it.

Own that nervous energy. If you care so much about getting the job, it’s normal to be a bit nervous. And that’s a good thing.

Show them your Best Work

For a completed project that you’re presenting, you can discuss the following:

  • a brief overview of the project
  • your role in the project
  • the creative process you used to get your job done

You can show sketches, mood boards or anything that tells a compelling story about you and your projects.

What’s your specialty? Is it identity design, web design, ad campaigns, mobile app icons? Everything? Find the things you love to do most and focus your story on that.

Be Honest about Yourself

Give credit to your managers, colleagues and subordinates. There’s nothing worse than a designer with a brilliant portfolio that gives no credit to his or her team.

Also, you should talk about your strengths as well as your weaknesses. Good agencies will hire someone who is passionate about their work and who has the right attitude, over someone who’s great but has a bad attitude. Don’t be afraid to be upfront with your personal weaknesses. Nobody’s perfect.

Know about the Company 

Know the company and the job you’re applying for. Dig into their portfolio, case studies, site content, etc.

If you know someone who already works there, you can invite them to grab coffee with you and chat about the company.

Great designers do everything by design, including how they interact with people. This applies to job interviews. Know the people you’re interviewing with. Cyber-stalk them. (Stalking is a good thing here.) Understand their passions, interests and find a common ground. Know if you’re speaking to a creative director versus a project manager versus a business development person because these sorts of things all matter.

Be Proactive

Agencies get hundreds, or even thousands, of applicants each year. If you send your stuff out and don’t hear back, don’t be afraid to follow up. Dig up their phone number or send a handwritten or well-designed letter.

During the interview, ask them pointed questions like “If you decided I was a great fit for your team, what areas would I be able to help you with?”

Learn to Sell

David Ogilvy said it best, “If it does not sell, then it is not creative.”

Learn how to articulate your work, the design decisions you made in them, and how these decisions affect the audience of your work.

No matter what the medium is, it’s important that you’re able to describe the “what” and “why” of your creations. No matter how good the work is, it will not sell itself, especially if the person viewing it isn’t a designer.

Keep the end user in mind

Design exists to enhance and advance the message being sent.

Design is business with artistic components. The best designers know the intricacies of user experience design and other buzzwords that focus design towards those that are meant to view and use it.

As Steve Jobs said, “Design isn’t how it looks, design is how it works.”

We can take that statement both literally and metaphorically. The best designers serve the needs of their viewers/users.

During your interview, you must show a great understanding of your audience.


Content Source: Pete Sena is the founder of Digital Surgeons, a digital marketing agency in cozy New Haven, CT.

This entry was published on March 12, 2014 at 7:24 am. It’s filed under Inspiration, Opportunities, Tips and Tricks, Travel and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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