31/01/2008

How to do a good interview™

I've interviewed a lot of people in time. I've filled design, developer, copywriter, illustrator and photography roles over the course of my career. Being on the 'other side' of the interview table really highlights how easy it is to make mistakes along the way. Below are some things that i've learnt along the way...

1. Take your work
Ok let's start off with the obvious. Some people i've interviewed have shown up without a portfolio or any work samples. Even if your going for digital work, don't expect the interviewer to have a kit for you to browse your site on. You are being asked in to look over your work, without it, you might as well not bother showing up.

2. Remember who your showing the work to
This was echoed in Shaughnessy's book and it's something i once fell foul of. Simply remember to turn your portfolio/monitor so the interviewers can see the work. It doesn't matter if you can see it or not, you've seen it before.

3. Don't be drawn in to moaning
If your trying to leave a job, unless it's for a relocation, it's usually excepted that you don't like it there. But when your asked about your current job or why your leaving don't start moaning about it or the people. Remain positive, but be clear why you've decided to leave.

4. Know your portfolio
Every now and then you get people showing you their work and seemingly looking at it for the first time. You need to know what's on the next page and all about every piece.

5. Ask questions
Anyone who knows anything about interviewing will give you an opportunity to ask questions. When they do you'll need to have something ready. I would recommend thinking of a few (please don't bring a printed sheet of them) in case your best question gets covered during conversation. What ever you do, don't try and turn it back on the interviewer i recently had a designer answer my request for questions with "well what can you tell me?" - that's annoying, i had just told them all about Preview and our work. If you don't ask questions it seems like your not interested and besides the interview is as much for you to determine if you want the job.

6. Get a business card
This might be more relevant for more senior roles, but it can still be useful for others. Before the interview is over try to get a business card and/or brochure. That way you can follow up the interview with a direct contact or stay in touch if it's a freelance role. Worst case you can add them to your contacts for the future.

7. Find out about where your going
Have a proper read through the agency's site and do some research on them. It's not always easy to find out the details, but it's impressive to show specific knowledge of the people or work.

8. Don't be afraid to say 'I don't know'
You might not be able to answer every question and if you really don't have a clue then be honest. if you try to blag it, you'll either look stupid or get caught out later.

9. Leave something behind
Designers and Creative Directors always like nicely designed things. It's a fact, there aren't many that i've met who don't hang on to really great samples. So why not create something for them to keep. it can be as simple as a digitally printed card with your details or it can something more elaborate like a large poster or hand made book. It will make you stand out - however i would recommend not leaving an air biscuit for them to choke on, no matter how nervous you are.

10. Never ever, ever, ever have a go at the receptionist - ever
Never ever. I can't stress this enough. The person who welcomes you through the door is often a key part of a studio, so be nice as hell to them. Never shout at them about parking or how quickly they answered the buzzer. If your nasty to them, they will let people know.

Whatever the outcome of your interview it's vital that you don't take it personally, you'll end up hating yourself very quickly if you do. It's not about who you are, it's about how right you are for the job. If your an amazing creative, but too senior or you've got too much brand work you won't get the job, that's not because your no good, it's because your not right for it.

Oh and one more thing don't ever bring your dog to the interview. Please.