Ace Your Design Interview in 18 Steps
Congratulations, you’ve landed an interview! This is the formal meet and greet—they’ve seen a glimpse of your work and like it enough to meet the designer behind the portfolio. They now want to find out more about you, what you’re passionate about, what you do in your free time and make sure you’re normal.
Here are some tips to help you nail that meet and greet:
- Always be available. Whether it’s for the first interview, the second interview or a trial. Show your commitment and flexibility right off the bat.
- Be prepared for a wide variety of questions. Don’t get caught with something as simple as: “Tell us about yourself”. Be prepared with a short, sweet and satisfying response that reiterates your skills and interest in the role.
- Do your research! Know the company and be prepared to ask smart, thoughtful questions—it shows effort.
- Arrive on time. Not 20 minutes early and not five minutes late. Arrive. On. Time.
(Okay, maybe three minutes early.)
- Dress appropriately. It’s important to be professional and comfortable. Hint: Designers don’t
- Have fresh breath. But no chewing gum!
- Turn off your phone. Yes, even off vibrate! You’ll live.
- Strive for a conversation. The interview process goes both ways! Don’t just answer and wait, or only present your work to yourself. Make it engaging.
- Let them set the pace and tone. Place your folio in front of the interviewer/s and let them control the speed of the interview. It’s nice to ask how much
of their time you have to avoid messing their schedule.
- Practice, practice, practice. Know your work back to front and be able to talk about
it without prompts.
- Avoid yes/no answers! Always elaborate on questions you are asked.
- Have a positive attitude. And remember to smile!
- Make eye contact. Not too much, don’t get creepy.
- Be confident! But not cocky.
- Show your passion. Enthusiasm is important, but don’t be over the top. Demonstrate your interest and strive for authenticity.
- Stay professional and friendly from start to finish. Be friendly to everyone you meet in the elevator and at the office. You never know whose opinion matters.
- Only draw positive things from previous work. And if you are asked about the negative, spin it to share a lesson learned.
- Follow up on your interview. Think of it like a date—don’t e-mail five minutes after the interview! Wait 24 hours to send that thank you e-mail reiterating your interest, why you’ll be perfect for the job and show your personality.
Illustration by Alex-Joshua Thurman #shilloman graduate, now a designer at Toaster.