Whatever stage you are at in the process of interviewing for design jobs, there is always time for some interview advice.

We’ve all researched or been given interview tips before, whether it be from a recruiter, a friend or even a colleague. But what if you’re a designer with the added challenge of presenting your portfolio? Here are a few things I’ve learnt along the way during my time in creative recruitment that will hopefully allow you to show off the skills you’ve worked so hard to master and refine.

This is key. It will not only show your interviewer you’re keen and organised, it’ll help you to be as calm and collected as possible in the lead up to your interview. Take two copies of your C.V and your tailored portfolio (see previous blog). This can be on a USB (make sure you tell them you’ll need a laptop in advance), or bring a laptop with you. If you’re a print designer make sure you have three or four high quality examples.

In addition to preparing a few things to take with you, gain a good insight into the company. Find out who their clients are, look at the work they’ve done, the history of the business, their values and who the people interviewing you are. If they have case studies available, then pick one you like that you can talk about during the interview.

This is becoming more and more common with design roles. Try not to panic when you hear the word “test”, it’s just a dummy brief for you to show them how you approach the work you’re given. Sometimes it’ll be carried out onsite, sometimes it’ll be emailed to you. Think about what the objective of the role is; Is it creative? If so, take your time, they might even give you a guide time which can help determine how long you can take to complete it, and if they don’t, ask. If it’s artworking, the likelihood is that they’ll want quick precise work so work fast but don’t rush. Making a proofing error is far worse than going over by 5 minutes.

When presenting your work, aim to talk for 10 to 15 minutes in total. Write down what you’re going to say, practice with someone and time it. Talk about:

  • The brief: What was it?
  • Concepts: You’ll probably be showing finished work so… What were your initial ideas? Did something influence these concepts like brand guidelines? What feedback did you get from the client?
  • Why? Why did you choose that layout? Colour? Paper stock? Print finish? (Do the same for digital work if you’re presenting any)
  • Result? What was the feedback? If campaign work…was it successful? Are you really proud of this particular project? Say so!
  • Things don’t always go smoothly, so think about times where there have been problems (usually not enough time and/or money) on projects. How did you deal with them? Did you work around them? Sometime we can’t work around or fix a problem, so did you learn enough to ensure you don’t repeat the same situation again?

Having the gift of creativity isn’t enough to ensure a successful career in a creative role (unless you’re extremely fortunate). We all know it takes hard work, perseverance and, of course, passion. It’s key that you demonstrate and focus your passion towards the role you’re interviewing for. It’s not just enthusiasm, it’s an inherent obsession toward everything related to that subject, with excellent industry knowledge. The worst feedback to get in an interview is that the candidate seemed indifferent.

Hopefully these tips will either be reminders of things you’re already aware of, or new information that might help you secure your dream job!