The interview for your dream creative job is in two days. Multiple copies of your CV are printed. Your portfolio site is updated, on-brand, and showcases your best work. This job could make or break your career. So, now what? Panic? Freak out and bail on the interview?
Nope, not a chance! Take a deep breath and follow these tips on how to interview effectively for creative jobs and you’ll be well on your way to acing that interview.
Do Your Research
First, if you haven’t already, you should do a bit of research on the company, agency or brand that you’re interviewing with. Know their business, their target demographic, and what they specialize in. A ton of relevant information can be found on the brand’s website. Another, often overlooked, cornucopia of insight is their social media profile(s). Yes, brands control the content that they post, but you can gain useful information about their day-to-day operations and culture by doing a bit of social research. You can also dive deeper and click around LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and other professional pages to find deeper insights into your dream company/brand.
Take your research a step farther and look up the person or people that are you interviewing with. It’s a great idea to have an understanding of their background(s) and be able to speak to that during your interview. Who knows, maybe you have the same alma mater or both grew up a few towns away! Every little bit of insight helps.
Master Your Elevator Pitch
Once you’ve done your research on the company and the people you are meeting with, it’s time to polish your personal pitch. Any creative professional worth their weight has a response to this question: “Tell me a bit about you.” Your response is called an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a quick, 30-second career summary that seamlessly sheds light on who you are, what you do, and what makes you an ideal candidate for your next creative endeavor. This isn’t the time to brag or boast endlessly, but instead, a chance for you to highlight where you’ve worked, your accomplishments, your (professional) passions, and what drives you to be the best within your niche. It’s important to remember that your elevator pitch should be succinct, poignant, and be engaging enough to encourage the recipient to ask deeper, probing questions.
Tell Your Career Story & Ask Questions
Now that you’ve got their attention, it’s time to dive deeper into your work history. Let’s take your elevator pitch to the next level and talk more in-depth about your work. Once you have your body of work organized and laid out perfectly with high-resolution imagery, you’ve got to be able to talk through the work you’ve produced in order to land the best creative jobs. Start by discussing what the brief was. Talk about the challenge and your process. If you worked with a team on the piece, highlight the role you played in creating the final deliverable. Be sure you can answer inquiries about why you made the choices you did. Expect questions about your choices of color, composition, hierarchy, layout, and tone. Everything is fair game in an interview for creative jobs, so be ready to defend each of the choices that you made!
Now that you’ve surmounted the most difficult part of the interview (talking about yourself) make sure you have a couple of questions prepared for your interviewer(s). If doing research on the company/brand has already raised questions, great, ask them! If you’re at a loss, it’s smart to ask questions that will give you insight into what it’s like to work at the company. Better yet, ask your interviewer(s) what they enjoy about working at the company; or what some of the challenges of working in a creative job there might be. Stay away from questions about start and end times, perks, and pay frequency. Those can come into play at a later date. Job seekers often forget that interviews are a two-way street. Companies are interviewing you, but you’re interviewing them as well.
After you’ve answered all the questions, thank your interviewer(s) for their time and attention. Make sure you have collected their business cards and contact information so that you can take time to craft the perfect thank you note and follow-up email. In your perfectly penned message, make sure you draw on the individual conversations that you had and include references to specifics from these conversations. Draw their attention to why you’re the best fit for this creative job – feel free to offer examples where appropriate. Provide your availability for any next steps and conversations previously discussed and deemed necessary. In the unlikely event that you don’t hear anything back, be prepared to follow up in about a week after the interview (unless a different timeframe was discussed).
Navigating the world of interviewing for creative jobs can be difficult, nerve-wracking, and time-consuming. It can also be super fun and engaging – and if you play your cards right, you just might land the creative job of your dreams!
What interview tips or questions do you have? Any good stories? Let us know in the comments!
Brian is a Recruitment Manager for Creative Circle, the largest creative staffing agency in the U.S. where he implements talent acquisition and placement strategies to engage with and place top creative talent.