How to ace an interview
We know that job hunting can feel like a full-time job in itself - it takes time and effort - but finding the right position and company can be life-changing. So once you land an interview, you want to give yourself the best chance of acing it. Here are our top tips to put you on the front foot and make the experience, dare we say it, enjoyable!
Before the interview
Revise the job description and your CV
Give yourself time to reread the job description and really familiarise yourself with the role. Once you decipher what the expectations are, think about examples from your past and current work that align with the key skills which have been specified. Also take note of what adjectives have been used to describe the type of candidate they are looking for so that you can use these (or similar) when talking about yourself in the interview.
Research the company
Knowledge = confidence so find out as much as you can about the company before the interview. Look through their website to see what kind of work they do and for which clients; read their news section / Google them for up-to-date insights on what they have been doing and saying; follow their instagram. Remember that the employer may want to hire someone that fits with their design style so keep this in mind. Understanding what the company is all about can help you determine whether it’s the right fit for you and also provide you with talking points or questions that will show you have done your research and take a genuine interest in the company.
Do some (legal) stalking
As well as finding out about the company, you should get to know your interviewer/s before you meet them. Use the company website, Linkedin, social, Google to find out what projects they have worked on, what their bio says about them, their interests, whether you have worked with the same people previously or worked on the same brands. Knowing some background info on your interviewer will help you build rapport with them which will not only help conversation flow but also make them more likely to remember you.
Prep for likely questions
Every interviewer has their own interview style but you can be sure that you’ll be faced with at least a handful of those familiar, tried and tested questions that we all love to hate. You know, the ‘Tell me about a time you showed great leadership skills’, ‘Why should we hire you?’, ‘What is your favourite piece of design?’ type of questions.
Preparing for common questions can help you answer them well and with relevant examples. Which brings us on to our next point…
5. Have a well-edited and up-to-date portfolio
When doing all the above preparations for the interview, always think back to which of your projects will help to demonstrate that you are the best person for the role and have the most relevant experience. Don’t be tempted to include everything you have ever done - the portfolio you present at your interview should be tailored to the role and to the company.
We would be happy to give you feedback on your portfolio before the big day so feel free to ask us to double check
what you have put together.
Know your work (and make sure it is actually your work)
All the work you include in your portfolio should be your own. You will likely be quizzed on your projects so make sure you get your facts straight to avoid getting caught out. If you have collaborated on a piece of work that is relevant to the interview, be clear about what your role was and how you contributed.
At the interview
Dress for the occasion (but be true to yourself)
You can ask us what we think is appropriate attire for said company or do some detective work yourself by looking on the company website and social channels to see how the team dresses. You don’t want to look like a clone but you also don’t want to stand out like a sore thumb. Be your version of them.
Early is on time
Be sure to plan your journey to arrive early, not just in time for the interview to start. Arriving flustered and sweaty is never a good way to meet people for the first time. You want to have time to use the bathroom, look over your notes, gather your thoughts and calm yourself so you can meet your interviewer feeling confident and ready to knock their socks off.
Turn off your phone
Be aware of your body (language)
First impressions really do count so be sure to make eye contact and smile when you enter the room. If you know you get sweaty palms when you’re nervous, talc them before the interview. Don’t be overly familiar but be warm and engaging. If you’ve done your research you should have some interesting fodder for small talk that goes beyond the weather so use what you know to start building rapport from the offset and before you get down to the nitty gritty.
Get to the point
It can be very easy to ramble, especially when nervous or biding time to work out what you think the right answer is. But try to be as concise as possible and clearly make reference to the question when answering to show you have understood what is being asked.
We have all faced tough situations at work or come across colleagues / bosses / clients who are difficult to deal with, but don’t bad mouth anyone in your interview. Your potential employer doesn’t want to hire a gossip or a Debbie Downer. They want to know how you overcame a tricky situation and what you have learned from it.
Learn how to use the STAR Method
The STAR Method can be a really handy tool to use when you have to answer behavioural and skills related questions like ‘Tell me about a time you showed great leadership skills’ as mentioned above. It helps you to recount a specific example to demonstrate your skills.
Situation - give context to the story - what was the situation; when and where did it take place
Task - what was your role and what challenges did you face
Action - the action you took and how you dealt with the challenges
Result - what happened as a result of your action and the skills you applied, and what you learned from the experience
Have questions up your sleeve
Think of 2 or 3 questions that you can ask at the end of your interview to show you’re keen, for example, ‘How do you evaluate success in this role?’, ‘How would you describe the company’s culture?’, ‘What opportunities are there for training within this company?’. Not only is an interview an opportunity for the employer to see whether you are the right fit for the role but remember that it is also a chance for you to gauge whether the company and role are right for you.
Don’t negotiate salary
The interviewer may ask what your expectations are but an interview is not the right time to start negotiating. This is something we can do on your behalf further down the line.
After the interview
You’ve done your bit, so you can leave the rest to us!
After your interview we will follow up with the studio and get feedback on how it all went. If you’ve worked your magic and impressed them, a 2nd interview would be the next step. We will help to get you set up for this and let you know if there is anything specific that you need to prepare.
In essence, a good interview comes down to being prepared. Solid research, a polished and edited-down portfolio, good conversation starters, focussed responses and thoughtful questions. Nail all those and you should be well on your way to acing your interview. And if it doesn’t work out you can ask for feedback so you know what to work on for next time.