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8 Graphic Design Interviewing Tips

Element Three

woman holding tablet computer showing to interviewer

When you're walking into an interview, it's inevitable that your heart will begin to pound so hard you feel like the person sitting across from you can hear it. Your palms will begin to sweat, and your stomach will feel like it's doing backflips inside of you. If only there were a way to alleviate this anxiety. Unfortunately, there is no magical cure for this but there is something you can do to take the edge off: you can make sure you are prepared in how you present yourself, what you bring, and what kinds of questions you ask.

Below are 8 graphic design interviewing tips and suggestions.

1. Prepare your portfolio

As a graphic designer it is ideal to have both an online portfolio as well as a physical hard copy portfolio. For your online portfolio, make sure that all of your links are working and that all of the content is up to date. For your physical portfolio, you should showcase anywhere between 7 and 11 of your best pieces; these pieces should be diverse and really show off your skills. Of those, it is wise to start off and end with your absolute best works of art. (Note: if you have sketches or how you came up with certain ideas or concepts – bring them! Employers are interested in how you got to your final solution.)

2. Prepare your resume and have copies

Before you go into an interview make sure to read through your resume to make sure there are no errors and that it's customized for the job for which you're applying. Make sure to bring at least 3 professionally printed copies with you to the interview, even if you have previously sent it via email. Put these in the back of your portfolio and always make sure to offer it to your interviewer.

3. Prepare your appearance

Yes, we know this one sounds funny, but you want potential employers to take you seriously and over 55% of a person’s opinion is determined by physical appearance within 10 seconds. The recommended attire for graphic design interviewing is a tad bit different than the typical business get-up. Wear something that makes a statement but doesn’t scream in their face. Try a trendy color or a bold texture/pattern. You are interviewing for a creative position, so let that creativity shine through in your clothing!

4. Research the company

Most likely the company you are interviewing with has a website – use this source of information! Browse through the site and take notes. Know what they’re about and what their vision and goals are as a company. You never know if they might ask something about this in the interview.

5. Arrive on time

Nothing says you could care less about a job more than arriving late. It is a slap in the face and a waste of their time. You want to arrive 15 to 20 minutes early. If you feel like that is too early to go into the building, use that time to prep and rehearse in your car. However, still make sure you are making an appearance inside the office at least 5 to 10 minutes early. (Note: When the interviewer welcomes you and shakes your hand, make sure to give a firm handshake – not knuckle crushing and not weak.)

6. Be prepared to answer the interviewer's questions

It is an interview so of course there are going to be questions – and lots of them! To start out they will ask you a variety of questions that will inch them closer to getting to know you and how you work. Below are a few examples of what you might expect from a graphic design interview plus a fun bonus question.

  • Have you been involved in business or product launch? What aspects did you contribute and how did you measure results?
  • Describe a challenging team project and how did you overcome the obstacles?
  • Describe a situation when you personally got involved in addressing those issues and what actions did you take?
  • Describe a time when you received resistance to an idea or project you were responsible for implementing. How did you handle the resistance and still get results?
  • Bonus: Who is your favorite designer and why?

When answering these questions try to keep your response in the form of the STAR method. Talk about the SITUATION, your TASK  at hand, the ACTION you took, and the RESULTS you got.

7. Be prepared to ask the interviewer questions

It is always good to have 3 to 5 questions prepared for an interview when the potential employer asks, “Do you have any questions?” It shows that you are curious and proactive. Here are some sample questions that would be a fresh breath of air to any interviewer:

  • What is an example of a client challenge you have recently faced? (Then, in your “Thank You” letter, address that challenge and how you would tackle it.)
  • I was looking at your social media presence and see that your brand has been more active over the past few months. Has your strategy changed? (Clearly you have done your research and are already thinking about marketing and branding.)
  • What would make someone really successful in this role? (This makes them think that you are an A-player and that you want to blow everyone out of the water.)

8. Always write a Thank You letter

This final step is crucial. It shows your initiative and your desire to work with this company. In this note thank them for taking time out of their day to meet with you and make it personal. Also since we are all creative people – don’t be afraid to get creative with it as well!