The Creative and Digital Industries are highly competitive, so be under no illusions, a portfolio may get your foot in the door, but it would be highly unusual for a company to hire someone solely on them being a good designer, no matter how good they are. 

 

Meeting with the designer behind the portfolio is the real suitability test for our clients. Being prepared and aware of what the interview will entail will hopefully avoid you stumbling at the first hurdle. You’d be surprised just how often this happens. 

 

The following tips, although some may seem obvious, are always worth discussing and offer a refresher for anyone looking for a job in design. 

 

1. Ask yourself if you’re 100% committed and interested in the job

 

Yes, it’s an obvious question, but it’s important to ask yourself this simple question. Whilst you should feel genuinely committed and interested in a job before applying, things can change. So if it happens that before an interview you know that you’re not longer interested and nothing can change your mind, then it’s probably best for all parties that you take yourself out of the process. 

 

If you decide that it’s time to withdraw, it’s important to provide sufficient notice - and we’re not talking an hour before! Always call your interviewer or recruiter to talk through a decision like this, rather than just sending an email. 

 

2. Use your recruiter to help you to understand the structure of your interview 

 

It often happens that candidates are given little information about their interview and a very informal “here’s the time of your interview, let us now how it goes,” type of send-off. 

 

We try to give our candidates as much detail as possible including:

 

Who you are meeting; who you should ask for when you arrive; what you should take with you; how you should prepare beforehand; what to expect in your interview. 

 

Usually a first stage design interview will focus on a portfolio review, where you will be asked to walk through your key projects. With that in mind…

 

3. Always decide beforehand what projects you're going to present

 

As well as creative talent, good communication skills in designers are highly desirable. The ability to understand the needs of a client and effectively communicate their ideas and vision visually, verbally, and in writing will make you stand out from the crowd. 

 

Your portfolio and portfolio review provides a great opportunity to showcase your range of communication skills. It’s worth taking some time to consider the following:

 

Don’t let your interview be the first time you’re talking about your work. You wouldn't dream of delivering a presentation without preparation and a run though, so don’t consider your interview to be any different. Get some practice in beforehand with friends and family. 

 

Be careful to choose projects that are relevant to the job you are applying and interviewing for. Remember a project can be relevant for a number of reasons. Think about a project in categories, such as platform type, sector and processes. 

 

Don’t be tempted to talk through everything in your portfolio. Think quality not quantity. There’s more value to be thorough on two or three projects than to rush through 10. 

 

Practice talking about your process. Almost all clients will want to hear the details about your thought process behind your work. Avoid “Here’s a website I designed… isn’t it great!” focus more on, “Here’s a website I designed. The brief was x, the problem the client needed solving was y, and these were the steps I took to get to the end result.”

 

4. Do your research 

 

The most frustrating thing for a hiring manager or interviewer is dealing with a candidate who comes across as not knowing why and what they're there for, or hasn’t researched the company. 

 

It’s important to really read up on the company before an interview. Search for recent news articles and stories, and don’t forget to look at their website and social media pages to get a feel for the brand and tone of the company. 

 

Make a note of any of their design work you like (and also dislike). Identifying any work that resonates with you, or that you're curious about, will provide points of interest throughout your interview. It will also show that you have a genuine interest in the company.

 

And finally, here’s some quick tips for you.

 

  • Take your own laptop to showcase your own work. 

The interviewer wont be able to take any notes if you're looking at your work on their screen. this will also avoid the panic of an unfamiliar laptop; who knows how they've setup up their scroll! 

 

  • Organise your work.

You don't want to spend your interview rifling through folders and sub-folders. Have all your work neatly organised into PDF case studies or all on your website to ensure a crisp presentation.

 

  • Be constructive, never negative.

It’s NOT advisable to put down the company/people you are currently working for! 

 

And remember that this is definitely not just a chat, it’s an interview. Design can be a casual industry, but it’s important to be casual whilst also being professional, organised and prepared! 

 

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