Being interviewed for a job is much like a relationship. As employers, we want to know who you really are during the first interaction. If you fake it and then you get hired, and our personalities really don’t mesh, it is going to make for a tough working situation for you and for us.
Having been in the design business for over twenty years, we have done A LOT of interviews. Because we are a small group, it is critical that you not only have the base skills for the position, but, even more importantly, the personality. And if you aren’t the boisterous, outgoing type, don’t worry—you can still shine and put yourself in the best position for receiving an offer.
We have taken our years of interview experiences and boiled it down to our #1 piece of advice: DO YOUR RESEARCH
Doing your research helps show that you are invested in the company. We understand that sometimes candidates have applied to a million job positions, but you need to make us feel like we are the only one and that you REALLY want this job.
Here is a nice, easy Do’s and Don’ts List
TO DO: Triple check your cover letter and resume before sending. Make sure the name of the company is formatted correctly.
(Example: We are not JackRabbit Design, we are Jackrabbit Design. Check the company’s website to confirm.)
DON’T: Copy and paste communications with the WRONG company name or job position title.
(Example: “I am interested in the Product Manager role”, when the position is actually for a Project Manager.)
TO DO: If you know the names of the people you will be interviewing with, take some time to research them. Check out their bio on the company website and their LinkedIn page. Knowing a little more information about who you will be talking to can create opportunities to connect and make small talk easier.
DON’T: Show up underdressed—sorry no t-shirt and jeans combo. Confirm the dress code with your interviewer in advance and then go one step above. We recommend a sharp blazer for most situations, which works for men and women.TO DO: Plan how you are getting to the interview and leave early so you don’t feel stressed if there is extra traffic, or a delay in public transit. If you are driving, make sure you know where you can park and are prepared to pay.
DON’T: Enter the building too early. Ten minutes early is the ideal amount of time to show you are prepared for the meeting. We have had candidates show up an HOUR early and ask if we can do their interview then. That would get you a big fat NO and is just rude.
TO DO: Have plenty of copies of your resume printed out. If you know you are meeting with two people, still bring at least 5-6 copies in case other people join. This shows you are prepared.
DON’T: Waste time setting up. If you have a portfolio, or samples of relevant work, make sure they are saved locally to a tablet or laptop, and that everything is charged and ready to go.
TO DO: Be confident. Even if you aren’t somebody who can small talk or joke around easily. Make sure you come across as professional and confident in your abilities. If you don’t have every skill or experience listed in the job description, show that you are willing to learn and be proactive about finding a solution to any challenge.
DON’T: Be caught off guard by questions like, “Tell us what you know about our company” or “In your own words, tell us what our company does”. Doing your research will help you feel more confident about answering in a smart way.
TO DO: Ask real questions, don’t fake them. If you have done your research, there should be some unanswered questions that will help you decide if this is the right position/company for you. Here are some great example questions:
- What is the team collaboration like here?
- Can you tell me more about the (fill in application title here) process?
A few more quick interview tips from our team:
- Accepting an offer of a convenient beverage (water/soda) is okay, but don’t make your future employer make you a cappuccino—you want to make things seamless for them. Don’t bring in your own coffee.
- First impressions are critical, don’t underestimate the image you are giving off when you first enter. Make sure your keys, phone, papers, etc. are in your bag before you walk in.
- Stay engaged, don’t glaze over. This has happened to us and gives us a good idea of how working with you would most likely be.
And if you totally ignore all of these tips, this is the one thing you MUST DO after your interview:
Send a thank you e-mail as soon as possible (within an hour or two). To make a real impression, send out thank you cards (yes in the mail) to everyone you met with.
We wish you all the best on your job hunt journey!