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Interview Process

›› Finding the Studios

›› Setting up the Interview

›› Preparing for the Interview

›› Attending the Interview

›› Follow Up

Finding the Studios

This is definitely not rocket science - it's all about finding your way through the industry network.

An interesting factoid that highlights this point: only 20% of jobs are advertised in newspapers or handled by placement companies ("Outsourced employment agency has a big job ahead of it," 30 Mar 1998, Business Review Weekly) Remarkable, huh?

So what about the remaining 80% - where does that come from? Word of mouth and other 'informal' channels, probably.

In other words, 4 out of every 5 successful applicants (regardless of industry) get their job through some sort of network, so hone your network & knowledge by...

  • Looking through local annuals (Design Down Under, AGDA Awards Book, AWARD, MADC Annual, etc.)
  • Speaking to designers you meet
  • Asking your friends who are now working
  • Asking your lecturers

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Setting up the Interview

When you are trying to set up interviews, be persistent and be flattering - both tricks work. Tell them that you "have admired their work / heard them talked about." Tell them that you "don't know if they are looking for anyone at the moment, but just want an opportunity to find about a bit more about them, and let them decide whether or not you should be on the "possible hire" list.

Like telemarketing, setting up interviews is a 'numbers' game - that is, your success rate is going to be a low and fixed percentage of the total number of calls you make. If that is the case, then be prepared to deal with a few rejections, and don't take it personally. At the end of your first 10 calls, work out how many interviews you managed to score. Say it was 1, that means your hit rate was 10%. Therefore, if you want to do 3 interviews, you probably need to make another 20 calls.

Make those calls!

Ask to show them your portfolio rather than ask for a job - even if they are not looking for someone right away it helps if they find out who you are and how good you are.

Things to set up during the call

  • Time & duration (ask for an hour, settle for half if necessary)
  • Place
  • Interviewer

The hardest thing I think about this part of process is building up momentum, so take a deep breath and just start dialling - set yourself an morning or afternoon for the task.

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Preparing for the Interview

Every interview is different - so prepare for them on that basis. Your details may not change but the relevance of some of your skills or experience may change, and thus the emphasis you put on any particular aspect may change.

Find out as much as you can about the studio through friends, contacts, company brochures, or industry literature.

Review your portfolio. Select carefully and judiciously, just enough to demonstrate your range of skills, but not so much that it becomes a page flicking exercise. Designers are interested in complete design solutions much more than demonstrations of technical skill, don't put in a pure illustration if you can show a design which uses that illustration.

Rehearse! Focus on the folio items that you know will be of interest to that particular studio. You should be able to explain succinctly why you have chosen a particular piece to show them and what it demonstrates about your skills or experience.

Prepare not only answers to obvious questions but consider some thoughtful questions of your own to ask which will demonstrate your interest in the area of work and the studio itself.

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Attending the Interview

Don't be nervous (or at least, too nervous). Everyone who is anyone has been in the same position as you at least once before. Think about putting them at ease. Have a script in your head. Think about the things that make you great to have around (I can make money for you, I can work in a very small team, I will not bite the client's head off) and essential (here is how my spin makes our design different and great)....

Portfolio review - don't forget the 'tell' in 'show and tell,' have a small story about each piece to make your passion and effort come alive for them.

There is a bunch of other stuff that the studio will want to understand about you - so make sure you give them a chance to find out.
Ask the studio questions too.

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Follow Up

This is an equally important part of the process as the other steps. It is an opportunity to demonstrate your interest and your professionalism. A simple short letter or email to the effect of "Thank you for the opportunity of meeting with you to discuss (the position) I will be contacting you soon,"

After the Interview

If they ask you back for another interview, you have at least been short listed and they are probably interested in offering you a position. Ask what they would like to focus on in the next interview - then prepare! This is a great chance to clarify or add to things discussed in your first interview which may be of interest to them or of concern to you.

If they offer you a Position

organise a further meeting to discuss the terms of employment
request a formal letter of appointment.

If they Reject you

  • Don't take it personally, there are any number of reasons why they have selected someone else (as opposed to having rejected you).
  • Ask for some feedback so that you can improve your interview technique or address any perceived shortcomings
  • Write a letter saying thanks for the opportunity of meeting with them.

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