7 Ways To Stand Out In An Interview — And Get The Job
Today, there are hundreds of thousands of eager creatives pounding the streets outside design and marketing corporations, fighting for the meager chances of employment. Because our economy is currently suffering, companies are employing less and less, and the number of the unemployed continues to rise.
In such a competitive job market, it’s more important than ever to stand out amongst the masses, especially in a job interview. Everyone is hopeful that they will stand out to a potential employer, but we’ll divulge a few surefire ways to the second interview, or possibly get you hired.
1. Dress Nicely
This means dress appropriately for the interview. Dressing nicely doesn’t mean showing off your fanciest club outfit or your favorite pair of skater shoes. The goal is to be respectful and professional. Yes, you are a creative. But it doesn’t mean that a Tshirt and jeans are acceptable interview attire. Time to grow up!
It is okay, however, to add a few touches that bring out your personality. If you love funky belt buckles, consider pairing your favorite piece with some nice slacks, a button down shirt, and some dress shoes. Or, if your “thing” is your crazy hand-made brooches, pin one to a nicely tailored blouse. After all, you’re applying for a creative position, not a bank. Just use good taste and common sense.
2. Bring A Fantastic Sketchbook
A sketchbook isn’t something that everyone thinks to bring to an interview; after all, it contains the most raw, unrefined examples of your work, and maybe some ideas you weren’t so crazy about. This doesn’t matter. The reason your interviewer will love to see your sketchbook is not for your amazing draftsmanship (although an added bonus), but to see your thought process, how you work through a design problem, and even how you approach design. Showing your sketchbook could mean the difference between being hired and being immediately forgotten, so bring it!
3. Have A Killer Portfolio
Everyone knows to bring their portfolio, and everyone knows to present a nice portfolio, but going the extra mile here is really where it counts. Make sure that your work is represented accurately, truthfully, and in the best way possible. This means using your photoshop skills, your printing skills, and your design skills to the best of your knowledge. After all, if you aren’t willing to go the extra mile to make your own work fabulous, then what will you do when it comes to clients? Do whatever it takes, spend whatever money you have to, but be absolutely certain that your portfolio is amazing on every level, from your own work, to the book it’s self. Remember, it represents you.
4. Know Your Adobe Software
Being able to not only articulate, but demonstrate your knowledge of creative software is crucial. Be prepared to be honest about what you know and don’t know. Also, let them know which programs you are more confident in than others (I’m terrific at Indesign, however, I’m still learning how to take my illustrations to vector format in Illustrator). If you’re not as fluent as the firm might like, a great way to approach this is by stating that while your experience is limited, your desire to expand your knowledge and skill in this area. A “willing to learn” attitude is helpful…just be prepared to prove it.
5. Have A Website And/Or A Blog Of Your Work
A web portfolio can be a fantastic tool for phone interviews, giving your interviewer the virtual view of your portfolio, and a place to refer back to when considering you for the position. Also, being able to provide a link to your website or blog can be the piece that gets you the interview in the first place.
In addition, keeping a blog of inspirational material or your work process is the equivalent of a great sketchbook. It shows not only that you are responsible enough to post on your blog regularly, but will show a great chronicle of your problem solving, where your inspiration comes from, and what your visual style is.
6. Have A Positive Attitude
When you go in for an interview, your attitude can make or break your chances of being hired or even considered for a job. There are several key reasons for this, but chiefly that they want to hire someone that they want to work with; If you portray yourself as fun, dedicated, willing, and sufficiently humble, you are more likely to be hired.
While confidence is a must, so is a bit of humility— no employer wants to hire a cocky, entitled person to work in their firm, and the line between cocky and confident can be a fine one indeed. Just make sure you don’t cross over.
A positive attitude also means that you should be willing to do whatever it takes to become the person your interviewer is looking for. Again, being honest about your shortfalls and eager to eliminate them is a must. Remember, no one will exactly match a job description; it’s your job to make sure you find out what it is they want from you, and how you can deliver. If this means taking some extra hours in the evening to learn a new skill or brush up on an unused one, be willing to do so and be sure to let your interviewer know.
7. Be Kind…Send A Thank-You Card
This may sound like an old fashioned thing to do— after all, you’re not even sure you got the job yet. Sending a thank-you in any form, especially in a nicely designed printed card, will put you leaps ahead of the pack in several ways.
First, you are giving your potential employer another piece of your design, which hopefully adds another dimension to the amazing design of your personal identity. They’ll be sure to keep it in their desk, on a bulletin board, or wherever they put pretty cards and notes, yet another opportunity for them to remember you.
In addition to seeing more of your design, they’ll be flattered that you sent a thank-you. Sending a thank-you is something employers rarely see after an interview (do people think we don’t like to be thanked for our time?!), and by doing so you’ll become more memorable to your potential boss.
All of these tips are important, and if you follow them you are guaranteed to have a better chance of being hired for a position. Most importantly though, you should do your research on the places you intend to apply for. Find out names, design style, who their clients are, what they prefer to design, and anything you can possibly learn. Finally, just be yourself, relax a little (though not too much) and enjoy the interview. After all, what is an interview but a conversation about yourself and your work? Keep your fingers crossed, a smile on your face, and brush your hair. You’ll do great.
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