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The interviewing process can be a daunting task. You’re putting your work out there to be judged and critiqued, and this can hit you right in the feels. So how best can you prepare yourself for an interview?

Let’s start off with the basics.

  • Know your work like the back of your hand. Everyone has a different way of doing this, but for me I usually know key bullet points that I want to touch on when it comes to discussing my work. Practice talking about each project and about your process. One of my professors has even recommended to videotape yourself just for a different point of view.
  • Look sharp. This is going to be the first impression they get of you. You don’t need to be in an Armani suit, but you do need to look professional. Of course this differs depending on the type of workplace you are trying to land a job. I would ask what their dress code is and either match that or go one step more formal (never wear a tux). Remember, dressing sharp may not land you the job, but dressing horribly can put you out of the running instantly.
  • Prepare a leave behind. What is this? For me, I put together my resume, business card, and three laid out examples of my projects. What this does is give a positive lasting impression even after you have left. It makes you look professional and on your game. More info about leave behinds can be found here¬†http://freelanceswitch.com/designer/graphic-design-leave-behind/

The actual interview can differ in a lot of ways. But from my experience here are the top questions that you generally want to know and have prepared an answer beforehand.

  1. What do you know about us? Please look at their about page at least once and pick some key elements that you will want to regurgitate out.
  2. Tell us about yourself. No this does not mean tell us your life story, keep the information pertinent to the actual job. For me it’s where I went to school, and where I’ve worked since then.
  3. What were your responsibilities at your old job? I try to highlight key roles that are applicable to the job that i am applying for. If it’s a marketing role, I want to emphasize my active partaking in running websites and creating marketing pieces.
  4. What is your strength/How can you contribute? Usually this goes hand in hand, but really think about this one. Find a key aspect to your work that you’re prob of and can offer an employer. It can be that you have great ideas, you’re really quick and efficient, or that you’ve got a yearning for learning, etc.
  5. Do you have any questions? Yes you will be offered to ask questions, this is your chance to see if this is the right place for you. Some questions I like to ask: can you describe a day for this said position? How do you usually start off your design process? What is the workplace environment like?

Keep in mind an interview is a dialogue between you and another person. This is not an interrogation, be personable and be yourself and remember to send a thank you email or letter for taking their time.

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Finding the right graphic design job is much like online dating, you need to cast a giant net in order to reign in that one job perfect for you. In my experience you must do what you can to get your work seen by as many people possible.

Here are a couple of things that have worked for me.

Facebook groups. I’ve joined several facebook groups dedicated to designers in my local area. Your school may have one, if not why not create one yourself. Regularly within these groups you can see people that are looking for interns or new hires. Do not waste these listings because usually these aren’t advertised in major sites and your chances are better.

AIGA Jobs boards

This is the go to place to look for jobs if you want to be hired in a design firm because usually design firm employees are involved with local AIGA chapter. You also have to pay to see more info about these listings, which is a good thing.¬†What this does is limit your competitors to AIGA members only. Not a member of AIGA? Do what I did and find a listing you’re interested in and ask a friend for a favor if he/she could copy and paste the info to you. This has worked for me in the past and thanks to my lucky charm [you know who you are].

The big idea? Play the numbers game, find the listings that others will not find. Make connections in the design community and use them.

You know what hasn’t worked for me? Craigslist. Why is that? Well everyone and their grandma uses craigslist, specially for jobs. One job advertisement on there can garner hundreds of applicants, most of them unqualified. But it’s hard to stand out in a sea of resumes. It is still worthwhile to apply to jobs through here in the off chance you catch an employers eye.