Recently, the team at 4Site embarked on a quest to find a new member of the team…a junior designer. I began the search innocently enough, posting an enticing description touting the allure of an office dog, opportunities for professional development, etc. on Smashing Jobs and the local Craigslist. What soon ensued was a sometimes amusing, sometimes frustrating array of applications, more than 100! Questions like “What is your favorite font” ended up being valuable sorting criteria, more valuable than I ever could have imagined when we originally cooked up the quirky application form. It’s amazing the information one can glean from small details…my subtle transformation into Sherlock Holmes from humble designer roots.
Below is a list of things I learned really do make an impression on an interviewer. I mean, really. These observations might seem cliché in some regards and possibly petty in others, but I’m just telling you the way it is. It’s a busy world, and when you’re looking for a job you’ve got to go above and also take care of the obvious. These are the valuable nuances that I found go beyond just being a rockstar at your advertised skillset…
- Have a point of view (don’t say “whatever fits the project” in a favorite font question, for example)…have preferences and be able to converse about them.
- Be on time, better yet...be early!
- Send thank you notes after each level of interaction to make a pleasant impression and show you’re responsive and motivated.
- Include a personalized cover letter, despite what you may think about the recipient getting overloaded with them.
- Dress well.
- Have a positive attitude and smile/laugh (within reason)...it puts the interviewer at ease.
- Have a portfolio you actually built if it’s a web design position.
- Speak clearly and sound interested and alert.
- Be upbeat…excitement excites the interviewer and puts you in a positive light, even if your skillset doesn’t match the listing 100%.
- Research the company, learn a little about what we do, too.
Bonus: Please DON’T
- Include weak pieces just for “bulk” in your portfolio.
- Bring a physical portfolio containing pet hair, debris, etc.
- Sound like a know-it-all.
- Spaz out and have talking points all over the place…stay focused!
- Forgo humility and gratitude. Say “thank you” when company pays for your lunch at an interview, for example.
So the next time you’re looking for a job, keep these points in mind…and remember that excitement, a desire to work hard and learn new things, and a positive attitude can help get you almost anywhere.