Graphic Design Interview Tips: Common Questions & Best Answers
On the surface, a graphic design job interview should be easy. After all, you’re talking about the subject you know the most about—yourself. But when anxiety, pressure and nerves get in the way, you might give answers that don’t exactly paint a lovely picture of you as an employee.
While there’s no miracle cure for being nervous, it helps to make sure you’re prepared for any question the interviewer throws at you.
1. Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
Give a brief summary of your professional persona. Include who you are, any education or experience you might have, and maybe a few snippets of information on your career thus far. You don’t want to go into too much detail, just think of this as an introduction to who you are. You want to be friendly and open, with a focus on your accomplishments as a designer
It’s a good idea to hand over a business card at this point. Many people wait until the end of the job interview for this (if they have a business card at all), but it makes a better first impression if you offer your card during introductions. It not only shows you have a professional attitude, it actually gives your interviewer a first look at how you design (assuming, of course, that you design your own business cards.)
2. Why did you leave your last job?
This is not your own personal forum for airing out all of the grievances you had with your last employer, and doing so is not going to help you get the job. Instead, you want to remain professional and honest without coming across as someone who makes a lot of unnecessary problems. Put a positive spin on your reasoning as much as you can.
For example, money is a common reason why people leave their jobs, and it’s not unreasonable to seek out new employment opportunities in order to increase your income level. However, telling a potential employer that you left over money is going to signal to them that you might do the same thing to them one day, or that it’ll be expensive to keep you. Instead, you can say that you felt there was no longer any room to grow at your last company, or that you were looking for new opportunities to advance your career.
In some cases, you’ll be interviewing for a job without having actually left the last one. That’s okay, but expect to answer a lot of questions about what you do at your current job, why you’re thinking of leaving it and how long it’ll take you to be able to start your new job.
If you work freelance, you may be asked questions about your current clients and whether working for them will create time conflicts or prevent you from hitting your deadlines.
If you were fired or let go from your last job, this might be an extremely stressful and difficult question for you to answer. Don’t be too nervous if you were fired—after all, everybody loves a good comeback story. Just make sure to spin this answer into something positive that helps demonstrate your growth as a designer.
For example, if you were let go from your last position because you weren’t a good fit for your employer, it means you’re ready to find a company which is better suited to your talents. If it was a personal problem, then outline the steps you’ve taken to correct that behavior and demonstrate your eagerness to get back in the game.
Above all else, stay positive and don’t go into more detail than you need to in order to explain the situation. Don’t point fingers or use this as an opportunity to badmouth your last boss. Just present the facts, show that you’ve grown from the experience, and move on to the next question. If the interviewer wants to know more, he or she will ask you follow-up questions.
3. What kind of design projects interest you?
Liking your job has never been a requirement of employment, but good employers know that happy workers do better work—especially if they like the work they’re doing. Every designer has his or her own specialty, something they like to do above all else. If what you like to do just happens to be the same job you’re applying for, then you’re in good shape.
If you’re afraid that your interests and the job you’re applying for aren’t the best match for one another, then try to find the best answer that is not only honest, but makes you the best candidate for the job. You could mention that you would like to work your way up into a position that would let you work on your favorite types of projects, if that’s a possibility.
Or you could always aim for an answer that is a little broader. You could say that you like projects that allow you to work with a team, or that you like working on challenging projects that everybody else has given up on.
In the end, you want to answer as truthfully as possible, because it gives future employers a sense of what you’re good at and where you might fit the best. You never know, you could go in for an interview for one job and leave with a different job you didn’t even know was available.
4. What kind of design software are you familiar with?
When interviewers ask this question, they’re trying to find out if you’re able to use their in-house software, or how quickly you’d be able to learn if you’re unfamiliar with it. Obviously, your best-case scenario is to know ahead of time what kind of software they use. If you already know how to use their preferred software, this will be a pretty straightforward answer.
If you don’t know their software or you have no idea what they use, this can be a tricky question to answer. Tell them what you do know, and try to include any program you think they might use. If you use something that’s similar to another program, that can also be a big help and the interviewer might not always be able to make that connection, so be sure to do it for them. For example, if you use one of the many Photoshop alternatives out there, you probably understand the basics of Photoshop too.
Express a willingness to learn new programs—this is a good idea even if you’re familiar with their in-house software. You never know when the company might upgrade to new software, so designers who can make the switch without taking a long time to adjust are always favorable candidates. If you’ve ever had to learn new software for a job in the past, be sure to mention this in your interview.
5. What is your graphic design process?
Since this can be a long, detailed answer, you’ll want to have prepared for it ahead of time so that you don’t trip over your words, accidentally omit details, or ramble on with too much information. Employers ask this question because they want to know how you do what you do, how long it’ll take you to do it and the kinds of roadblocks you are likely to run into along the way.
Employers usually want you to be somewhere in between these two extremes. You should have a process that allows for revisions and critiques, but is also speedy enough that you’ll hit your deadlines without any problem. For some designers, this might mean actually sitting down and figuring out what your process is—but that’s okay. The more thought you give to the kind of designer you are, the more you’ll have to work with during your interview, and the easier it is to showcase yourself as the best candidate for the job.
Collected & Edited By: Customer Service HR Strategy Viet Nam
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Some designers are lucky to be able to just sit down and crank out an amazing design with barely any thought or planning, while other designers need to utilize a dozen different drafts and outlines to get their design finished.