Saturday, February 03, 2007

Designers beware: Being the interviewee (Part 2)

Last week I covered the first part of this article about designers getting interviewed. I gave some tips that can be applied to ensure a more effective selection process.

Part 2: The actual interview.

You’ve got one foot at the door of the company, which means you’ve probably done your homework and have caused a good impression so far, by means of your resume and portfolio. Now, prepare yourself to show all you can do and be, in the interview.

Be polished.

Mind your appearance. I know that this may be obvious to most of you, but more often than I’d like, I have interviewed designers that were lacking in this department. Basic hygiene is a must, make sure everything is clean, get a manicure, take care of your hair.

Regarding the dress code, to be quite honest, I feel greatly disappointed if a designer shows up in a tie and suit. I like to see some personality, some wackiness, something that I usually don’t see in regular people. But be careful, don’t go overboard, I still expect candidates to look the part, professional and stylish. That doesn’t mean expensive clothes, it just means paying attention to the details, which speaks well of the way to tackle things in general.

Be eloquent, speak the interviewer’s language.

Since you found out the position of the person who will conduct the interview, by now you know if it’s another designer, a creative director, a human resources representative and their ranking in the company. Reflect on what that particular person is going to ask you and what kind of information they might need to make a decision.

The creative director most likely wants to understand your creative process and your ability to express ideas effectively, whereas an HR representative probably will want to know more about how you handle pressure and your academic background.

Be on time.

This is one of the first things I evaluate. If you’re late for a job interview, most likely you're lax about deadlines, not very serious about work or committed enough and wouldn’t mind leaving a customer waiting. Not being on time if absolutely unacceptable.

This being said, anybody can have a problem at the last minute and I would understand if something unavoidable came up, so call as early as possible, apologize and let the interviewer know that you’re running late and ask if they’ll be willing to wait or reschedule.

If you didn’t have a problem, but merely overslept, make sure you do call and make up a really good excuse. No, I’m not advocating lying… but we are all human.

I once had a designer show up more than an hour late, didn’t call, I thought that something really unexpected had to had happened for him to appear at my office so late. When I asked him, he replied that he had to deliver something somewhere else. Lame, wouldn’t you say? Of course, he didn’t get the job.

Be mindful of your body language.

Be upbeat, look everybody in the eye and give a good firm handshake. Goggle some information about body language and handshakes, there’s a lot on the web. You may think that’s a bit nerdy, but these things matter. I usually tend not to trust a person with a weak handshake, it just doesn’t yell confidence to me.

Take a deep breath and try to enjoy yourself, relax… most of the time interviews are about half an hour of talking about yourself! It can be fun and like everything else, you get better with practice.

Now, being too friendly, too chatty, too lose can play against you as well. If need be, practice with someone else before attending the real interview.

Be imaginative, pretend the interviewer is an actual customer.

Think about it, the interviewer wants to see if you’ll be a good match for the position, if you’re all that you said you were, if you can deliver, if you have good empathy and how you can bring money in.

So… basically, the same things most prospective customers would be evaluating, right? Thinking this way will make you prone to be more proactive, assertive and present yourself and your work in a business manner. Remember, nobody is out there waiting for you to ask for a favor. It’s about how you can leverage their business.

Be inquisitive, ask many questions.

Not just any question, you’ve researched the company in advance, right? Ask things that will allow you to a. Get a clear picture of what the job entitles and b. Demonstrate that you can do the job. Here are a few custom questions I expect to be asked (and seldom do, actually):

- What’s the position called?
- Is this a new position or would I be replacing somebody?
- Who does this position report to?
- Who else is on the team?
- What are the regular tasks of this position?
- What are the short and long term goals for this position?
- Where does this position fit in the hierarchy of the company?
- Where does this position fit in the production process, what teams does it relate to?
- What are the overall goals of the company?
- When do you expect to reach a decision?
- Will you let me know the outcome?

Be smart.

Answer questions quickly and with confidence. Phrases like this…

“This, uh, it’s a truly, uh, user-friendly… it’s uh, clean, uh, organized, uh, and uh, you know, I mean, the important, you know, is, I mean, high lighted, uh, you know, I mean, basically, you know…”*

… just don’t cut it.

Be ready to speak about your strengths and your weaknesses. You’d be amazed at how many people seem to be caught off guard with such questions, they never thought about it. Be candid and honest. Don’t try to deceive the interviewer. Remain calm, breathe slowly. Be sure not to badmouth your previous employers.

And last but not least, just be yourself, show all the good things you have to offer. If you still don’t get the job, at least you practiced. Review what went well and what didn’t go so well and make mental notes for next time.

I’d love some comments and your input. I’m sure there are loads more to add!
All the best!

* Rita Sue Siegel Resources.


dodongflores said...

Very helpful tip. One need not buy books so he/she can learn about these how to's. All they have to do is visit your blog and read...
Thanx for sharing...

Carolina Ayerbe said...

Hi, dodongflores! Thanks so much for your comment! I look forward to receiving more in the future!