Posted by Kellie Shadle on Friday, February 19, 2016 - 07:00
Have a big creative job interview coming up? Whether it's an in-person meeting or video interview, don't stress. Be prepared. Nail everything from the first impression to the final question with these five job interview tips.
I have a friend who claims to be a "star interviewer." He's the person who doesn't have to prep much, claims to just "be himself" and pretty much knocks it out of the park every time. He's actually received a job offer on the spot. (Does that really happen?!)
If you're like me, and most creative professionals, interviewing can be stressful – and it's never that easy. Organizations and hiring managers have unique ways of evaluating candidates, and it can be difficult to know what you're getting yourself into and how to prepare for each one. For example, should you wear a suit if you know the position you're interviewing for is at a bona fide jeans-and-hoodie start-up? How about connecting with your interviewers on LinkedIn before the meeting?
There are plenty of things to keep in mind before you arrive for your interview, so here are five interview tips that have helped me. Hopefully they'll help you, too, as you head into that upcoming job interview.
Do your homework
Show up prepared by researching beyond-the-basics information about the position and company. Don't just visit their website and social media pages – search the company name so you're informed of recent events such as acquisitions or a newly appointed CEO. Also ask people in your network if they have any insight about the organization. Maybe a former classmate used to work for the company and can give you tips on navigating hierarchy. Then, as relevant interview questions come up, strategically share your knowledge about the company.
Learn how to answer the trickiest interview questions.
Be aware of your body language
Your nonverbal communication matters. Subtle cues, such as eye contact, facial expressions and posture, will affect how others perceive you. Do you tend to bite your nails or fiddle with your pen? If so, be aware so you can avoid distracting behaviors. Make sure you're coming across as confident, secure and capable. Demonstrate these traits by:
- Smiling genuinely
- Making eye contact
- Not fidgeting
- Sitting up straight (No slouching!)
- And, of course, offering a firm handshake
Tell stories in the job interview
Don't just tell the interviewer that you're an excellent front-end web developer or copywriter, show him or her by referencing real-life examples of the impact you've made. Share anecdotes that provide specific examples of how you've helped solve business problems. Describe the challenge, talk about your process and actions, and outline the final results.
Read about the five interview mistakes that will ruin your chances.
Ask thoughtful questions
This is not the time to inquire about salary. (You don't have the job yet!) Rather, follow the interview questions with some thoughtful questions of your own. Ask the hiring manager to describe an aspect of the job that might surprise you or what the team's process is for collaborating on projects. If you have a chance to meet with someone you'd be working with, ask for their take on company culture or what their biggest challenges are. Such questions help reinforce your interest in the position and the company.
The key to making a strong first impression is to simply show the real you. Try to avoid rehearsed responses and fluffy jargon. Instead interact in a way that's honest and genuine. If you can somehow tie a hobby to the job requirements, like photography or youth mentorship, for example, it can be an interesting conversation point.
If you're like my "star interviewer" friend, props to you. For the rest of us, I hope these interview tips help you step outside your comfort zone and land the creative job of your dreams.
Now that you're ready to interview, check out the available positions in our job database.
More creative job interview tips
- Job Interviewing Tips for Recent Grads from Three Agency Heavyweights
- Interview Questions for Creative Professionals: How to Answer the Usual Suspects
- Job Interview Tips: How to Deal With 3 Different Types of Difficult Interviewers
Editor's note: This post has been updated. It was originally published in September 2013.