A graphic designer’s interview prep guide
There are few experiences more nerve-racking than an interview for a job that you desperately want, and graphic designers, like most creative people, are not necessarily known for their networking and people skills. You may have sent over you’re impressive resume and wowed them with your stunning portfolio, but the final hurdle before landing that prize position is to impress your potential employees at the interview, and the butterflies are kicking in..
Not to fear, giving a good interview for a graphic design job is all in the preparation and we are here to help you with our graphic designer’s interview prep guide:
Study the company
One of the biggest mistakes many interviewees do is to go into an interview without studying the employer or company before. It really is a schoolboy error and no matter how impressive your resume and portfolio was, showing that you have invested little to no time in researching the company will let the interviewer know you are unprepared and/or care very little about getting the job; and they will test you on this.
The first thing to do is Google the company, read their website and read any relevant articles on them. Look for the company’s mission statement and search for information on their history and main team leaders, especially those of the design department. It’s your task to get a good idea of where this company is in the industry and where they want to go (especially if you wish to be a part of that journey!).
Study the role
Similarly to studying the company you should also study the role you are applying for. Most of the information for the role will be in the original job advert or spec sheet and by marrying this with the information you have found through studying the company you should get a better idea of where the vacant role fits in with team and company plans.
You are unlikely to know everything that is expected of you in the role before the interview but you will be expected to have at least some idea of what they are looking for, and be able to prove that you are the person for the job. Remember, the interview is an extension of your resume and portfolio, and a chance to expand on them, so knowing what the role requires will help you focus on your positive attributes and experiences in relation to the job.
You may not be able to second guess every question you are going to get asked during your interview but there are several common questions that you are likely to come up and it will obviously help to prepare answers for these. Here are some of those most common questions:
“What’s your greatest achievement?”
Here the interviewer doesn’t simply want to get your career highlights but also get an idea of what you deem to be success. The best way to answer this is to focus on a design project that you led or played a key part in which a previous employer benefited from. If you’re applying for your first design job try to focus on project that helped you stand out during your education, and in both case try to show passion and pride in your answer.
“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
Talking about your strengths shouldn’t be too difficult, but make sure to focus on strengths which relate to the job and which you can give examples of to back up the claims.
Talking about your weaknesses can be a bit trickier and is often where some interviewees come unstuck. Avoid using clichés such as “I work too hard”, these always come across as somewhat arrogant and disingenuous. Instead try to focus on actual weaknesses which you had but are now overcoming, for example, you could say you have missed deadlines in the early part of your career but you have learned how to become more organized and better manage your time, and also learned to be honest and talk to your superiors when you are falling behind or feel a deadline is unrealistic.
“Are you a good team player?”
The obvious answer to this is ‘yes’, and this question, or variations of it, is meant to investigate how well you work and communicate within a team. It’s important to give strong examples of how you have interacted well within successful teams in the past, including examples of how you collaborate with your colleagues and can communicate with your superiors and those in other departments.
“Where do you see yourself in five years from now?”
You may not know exactly where you want to be in 5 years from now but what the interviewer is basically trying to gauge is whether you see the job as a career or a stepping stone to something else.
The best way to answer this is to show you have put a lot of thought into your career path and you see the vacant role as a means of professional development over the long term. You could also note that within 5 years you wish to take on more responsibilities within the company and grow as the company also grows.
“Tell me about yourself.”
OK, this isn’t actually a question but to the fear of many candidates it does often come up in interviews, and it’s rarely and enjoyable one to answer. It can almost seem like a ‘trick question’ often coming towards the end of the interview when you feel you’ve already given over you complete professional history. Here the interviewer is usually trying to get an idea of who you are outside of work and delve deeper into your personality.
What you don’t want to do is tell your life story or speak to much at all, instead try to focus on your interested outside of work which relate in some way to the job and/or industry, or things that paint you to be an interesting person with passions and hobbies that assist rather than distract from your career.
“What are your salary requirements?”
This is another ‘end of interview question’ which can be tricky to answer. Here the interviewer is basically trying to gauge whether you have realistic expectations when it comes to salary, and how flexible you are about it.
In some respects it’s best to try avoid giving a firm answer, as you may well undervalue yourself in fear or missing out on the job. Rather than give a precise figure it’s you could give a salary range, or give them an upper end figure but let them know you would be willing to negotiate and discuss it further should you be offered the job.
If you don’t have a clear idea of the salary you should request then do some research and look at sites such as www.salary.com, taking into account where you are and what your experience is.
Once you have an idea of how you’d answer such common questions, find a friend or family member who can then test you and role-play the interview. The more you practice the easier it will be.
Prepare a list of questions to ask the interviewer
The last question you’ll usually be asked at the end of an interview is whether you have any questions. You should never answer ‘no’ to this, and use this opportunity to ask any questions you genuinely have about the job that you feel were missed or not covered clearly during the interview, though avoiding asking about salary, bonuses, and holiday entitlement.
It’s worth preparing a few questions before the interview based on the information you found when researching the company. You could also ask about the company’s general culture in the workplace, questions about training and professional development, or even ask the interviewer why they chose to work for the company (that is often a great final question).
Finally, be confident.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, just trust in your abilities and view it as a positive experience. They wouldn’t have offered you the interview if they hadn’t already deemed you a worthy candidate based on the quality of your resume and/or portfolio.