7 Essential Tips on Preparing for an Interview

A graphic of a hands making a checklist to prepare for an interview

You've just received that phone call you've been waiting for. The hiring manager at the creative agency of your dreams has invited you in to talk about possible employment. But your enthusiasm quickly turns to panic at the thought of having such an important, career-changing conversation. Instead of freaking out, start preparing for an interview so you'll be poised and confident when you meet with your prospective employer.

Preparing for an interview involves anticipating the questions you'll be asked and responding with concise answers. Preparation involves reviewing your portfolio so you can discuss your work with enthusiasm and authority. And it means thinking about what you truly want out of the next step in your career. Go in unprepared, and you'll react to tough questions like a deer in the headlights and fumble over talking about yourself.

As you're preparing for an interview, embolden your confidence by keeping these seven tips in mind:

  1. Do your own due diligence. Scan the agency's blog or the news section of the company website to find out as much as you can about them. Has the team recently won any design awards or been featured in industry media? Has the agency landed a big new client? Look for ideal opportunities during the interview to share your knowledge.
  2. Be ready for tough interview questions. Expect to be asked about your weaknesses and your career aspirations. You'll need to talk about how you've dealt with workplace challenges. As you're preparing for an interview, rehearse your honest responses to those questions.
  3. Anticipate design-centric questions. Creative interview questions typically include those about your preferred design tools and design style. You may also be asked to critique the company's marketing materials.
  4. Put on your storyteller's cap. Preparing for an interview is like rehearsing for a play. Get comfortable presenting a narrative about yourself and your work. Use anecdotes or humorous scenarios to talk about your experience. Choose the strongest project in your portfolio and develop a story to explain it.
  5. Take notes. In a sharp-looking notebook that you can take to the interview, jot advance notes about highlights you want to cover and questions you want to ask. During an interview, pause to gather your thoughts and refer to your notes.
  6. Practice. You want to get as comfortable as possible with your presentation and conversation skills so that the interview feels natural. There are several ways to practice: speaking out loud to yourself or in front of a mirror, mock-interviewing with a friend or even videotaping yourself.
  7. Consider the wardrobe. As you're preparing for an interview, plot out your wardrobe and accessories, including shoes, notebook and portfolio. Choose clothes that make you feel strong, put-together and confident. A good rule of thumb: Dress just slightly more businesslike than the typical attire of the office where you're interviewing.

Preparing for an interview will help you feel confident and composed during your meetings. You may face curveball questions, but that confidence will help you address them with aplomb. Relax, be yourself and knock 'em dead.