by Judi Wunderlich
No matter how much experience you may have, the key to landing a quality job comes during the interview. Your work may speak for itself but how you present yourself during a one-on-one meeting with your potential boss says volumes about how you will be as a potential employee.
There is naturally a lot of pressure put on anyone during a job interview, but every industry presents its own rules for success. As a designer, knowing what not to do can be just as important as knowing the correct thing to do.
How to Screw Up An Interview
- Come without a portfolio: Sometimes work really does speak for itself but your future employer will never know unless they can see for themselves. Even if they have already seen your online portfolio make sure to bring a physical copy with you to the interview itself. Having it on hand shows that you are not only prepared but also eager and excited about the position you applied for, and employers notice that. For examples of good portfolios visit http://webdesignledger.com/inspiration/22-beautiful-portfolio-websites-to-inspire-you.
- Inconsistent Branding: More than any other profession, being a designer is about presentation. If you do not present yourself as a creative brand of your own making than you are not taking full advantage of your skills. Whether it is on business cards, stationary, portfolios or logos make sure you have a strong, consistent brand that employers will remember. For personal branding tips check out http://socialspark.com/5-must-use-branding-tips-for-every-small-business/.
- Dress inappropriately: Let’s not beat around the bush, appearances matter. Your portfolio could be the Holy Grail of design but if you don’t dress to impress you will not only not get the job, but you will stick out in your interviewer’s mind as someone that does not take the process of interviewing seriously and are therefore unhireable. Do your homework on the company (or department within a company) you’re about to interview with. Figure out their culture. Are they buttoned-up corporate? Are they laid-back geeks? If you were to wear a suit to the laid-back place, or jeans and t-shirt to the corporate interview, you might not get the job based on presumed ‘culture-clash.’ You can usually never go wrong wearing dress pants, collared button-down shirt and good shoes to any interview. If you’re working with a recruiter, ask them what’s appropriate to wear.
- Don’t make eye contact: Don’t you just love sitting across from someone and engaging them in conversation while their eyes look everywhere but at you? Of course you don’t, and neither do recruiters, HR reps, or hiring managers. Even if you’re shy, force yourself to smile and make direct eye contact with the person interviewing you. And don't forget to put out your hand to shake theirs upon arrival and upon leaving the interview.
- Undersell yourself: Remember that the purpose of an interview is to let your future employer know that you are the perfect person for the position. Do not be afraid to highlight your best qualities to make it clear to the interviewer that not only are you the right person, you should be the only person they consider. For some great tips on how to sell yourself on an interview visit http://www.coachingforchange.com/pub06.html.
- Ask about benefits and time off: Sure, you want to know if this company has a good benefit package with decent paid time off, but during the interview is NEVER the time to inquire about that. The questions you should be asking are related to the job itself, or the company’s vision for the future, not what’s in it for you.
- Be forgettable: When it comes to finding the right person for a design job a company can go through dozens of candidates over a period of months before deciding on the one they eventually hire. With numbers like that the only way to make sure you stick out is to be unforgettable. Whether it is through your professional demeanor, outstanding portfolio or your expertise in the industry you need to set out to make an impression.