How To Nail Design Job Interviews

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    • 12th September 2017

    The interview is the most nerve-wracking part of any job hunt. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be this way. We've put together this list of tips for people, who are looking for jobs in the creative sector.

    Don’t wait for opportunity to knock on your door. Shine in the interview and have agencies ask for you to join them.

    Even absolutely perfect candidates for a role can get caught out during an interview. It’s not just nerves that can get in the way of your dream job, but also experience of the interview process or knowledge of the expectations an employer has. This is especially the case in the creative sector and design job interviews have a subjective element to them, too.

    You and your work need to wow in the interview. To help you achieve this, we’ve put together tips on the general interview process and what to be aware of for design job interviews.

    General Interview Tips

    two men discussing business plans with laptops

    There are some things you should do for any interview, regardless if you’re applying for creative jobs or marketing jobs.

    Before the interview

    Before you set foot in the interview room you should have a good understanding of the employer including the work they produce, their competitors and the challenges their industry is facing.

    You should also tailor your CV to display the skills that the job is asking for. Speak to your recruitment agency to help you tailor your CV to the job role.

    The interview

    On the day of the interview, remember to dress smartly and arrive in plenty of time. First impressions are key to interviews and it’s not only what you wear that counts towards this, but also how you first introduce yourself.

    Many underestimate the importance of a confident handshake. A limp handshake with no eye contact gives the impression that you’re not very confident, while a crushing handshake often accompanied by an intense stare can be seen as too aggressive. A confident handshake is firm with a friendly smile and eye contact.

    When you’re in the interview room sit only when invited to sit and be aware of your body language.

    Fidgeting, nail-biting or slouching are all big turn-offs for a potential employer. You should also avoid being too familiar or exuberant.

    At the end of the interview, thank each interviewer for the opportunity.

    After the interview

    Don’t be afraid to send a follow-up email expressing your gratitude later on. Showing you’re interested and appreciated the time you were given is a good thing.

    If your interview was through Gloss, you can ask us to send your thanks and message on to the employer you were interviewing with.

    Creative Interview Tips

    Besides dressing smartly and ensuring you’re punctual, design job interviews present their own challenges. We’ve highlighted some things to keep in mind below.

    Be ready to answer questions on your creativity

    Interviewers in this sector want to know about your expertise, your knowledge of industry trends and even if you’re really a creative type.

    graphic design tablet and pen

    They may ask about the tools you prefer to use, your design style and your professional opinion of their own work.

    You might need to talk about creative people or industry figures you admire, how you stay in the know about your industry and the big creative challenges you’ve faced.

    You may also need to talk about any creative projects outside of work. Anything from knitting to writing or photography could be useful here; when considering your own activities, think about the skills they incorporate (like planning, time management or collaboration) and how they could serve you in the job you’re applying for.

    Be ready to ask questions, too!



    At the end of the interview, you’ll be asked if you have any questions for the employer.

    Always take them up on this opportunity. It isn’t just a chance for you to learn more about a prospective employer but shows you’re engaged and interested in the company. It can also help you decide if the job is right for you.

    What to ask?

    Ask about the culture of the company. You want to discover whether the culture is laid-back, professional or somewhere in between. A useful way to do this is to get the interviewer to describe the company in just three words. These three words can say a lot about a company. Also, take note of how easy or difficult the interviewer found this question. This can also tell you how well defined the company’s identity is.

    Ask how employees collaborate on projects. This question helps you understand how different team members and departments work together. It can also help you discover if there’s anything about the company and role that you weren’t expecting.

    Meeting someone who you’d be working with directly is especially useful. If your future line manager or a team member is part of the interview, ask them about the biggest challenge they faced while working at the company.

    “One question I have frequently asked at interviews is ‘what do you love about working here?'” says Chloe Tate, Graphic Designer at electric.

    “It reveals a lot about the interviewer, and gives you a much clearer picture of the work environment.”

    Avoid failing to prepare

    man viewing a city from a top a hill in the rain

    Besides researching the company you’re interviewing at (and we suggest focusing on that, as opposed to individual interviewers) you should try and learn about the interview itself.

    • What will the format be?
    • How many people will be interviewing you?
    • Who is scheduled to interview you?
    • Do you need to give a presentation?

    This keeps nasty surprises to a minimum and helps you avoid any major missteps.

    Creatives need portfolios, of course, so be sure to have a digital version (either online or via a memory stick) and a hard copy of the most relevant examples for design job interviews with you. There’s no guarantee the interviewer will print a copy of your portfolio for you.

    It also ensures you don’t have to cope with power failures, room changes or a complete lack of computers just to showcase your abilities.

    Dig deep into your portfolio

    spade in dirt

    We’ve talked before about creating a great portfolio, but when it comes to interviews this is only half the battle.

    A good interviewer will be very familiar with your portfolio and prepared to grill you on it. Therefore, you should be able to discuss your work in detail.

    Look back at your portfolio and reflect on each piece of work in it.

    • What context did you create the work in?
    • What was the design process like, and which tools did you use?
    • What challenges did you face, and what results did you achieve?

    “When I’m interviewing for a creative position, I always ask the candidate to talk about their portfolio,” says Rob Carey, electric’s Studio Manager.

    “By getting them to explain their work in detail, the candidate proves their expertise and shows they’ll be confident and productive in the role. An inability to discuss your work is a key concern in any interview.”

    Be yourself

    thumbs up with a smiley on the thumb

    This may be a cliché, but design jobs are all about collaboration- working closely with clients and colleagues to deliver a top quality project. That’s why it’s so important you present yourself honestly.

    A good interviewer won’t assess you solely on the work you produce (though this is a key consideration).

    They’ll be considering how you fit in with the rest of their workforce and may ask seemingly frivolous questions to assess this. So relax, and act confident (without seeming cocky).

    Don’t hide behind a mask or act wildly out of character.

    If you are honest about what you can do and the type of person you are, you will give yourself the best possible chance of getting the job.

    Get a helping hand

    If you’re still feeling nervous or unsure about interviews and design job interviews, don’t despair! At Gloss, we’re always on the lookout for new candidates, and we can help you be the very best candidate for the role.

    Visit our Contact page for more details.