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BEFORE THE INTERVIEW Now that you have a clearer picture of what goes down at an interview, you can

begin preparations to make a terrific impression.

As we pointed out earlier, in today’s tight market, applicants must have far

more going for them than just good design skills. With such fierce competition

for a limited number of jobs, you’ll have to polish your shoes as well as your

answers to interview questions well in advance of the big day. Trust us, an interview

is no place to wing it!

Jeffrey Fox, author of Don’t Send a Resumé agrees with us. He says, “Most

jobs are won or lost in preinterview preparation.” We’ve devised these eight

preinterview steps to increase your chances of success.

Research the Firm

Remember our advice to stand out from the pack? Do so by digging around and

taking notes before the interview. For example, if you learn that XYZ

A corporation is moving into European markets or this firm is known for identifying

work is expanding into Web site development, find ways to work these tidbits

into your spiel. More than two or three times is just plain showing off though.

Rehearse Your Interview Responses

What you say and how you say it can often make or break your candidacy so be

prepared. We strongly urge you to jot down responses to the interview questions

listed below so you won’t be caught speechless. Don’t memorize your responses,

though, because you’ll come across as stiff and stilted.

Frequently asked standard questions include:

• Why did you choose the design? • Why did you choose us? • Who are your favorite designers? • What three words best describe your design style? • What three words best describe you as an employee? • What are your three greatest weaknesses as a designer? • What’s the hardest design challenge you’ve run up against? • Describe a difficulty or problem you ran into and what you did. • Why did you leave so-and-so? • Why should we hire you for this job? • What kind of work (or clients) do you dislike? • How do you feel about production work?

Be aware that some employers, like Cathy Teal of FireBrand Design in

Palm Springs, California, will probe to seek more specific information:

When I interview, I want to hear how a person arrived at an idea, how it

germinated and became a finished product. I want to know how can-

dates think and what thought structure they use. I also want to know

whether or not they have production skills. Can they flight-check a document

for press? If something doesn’t print well, it can kill you.

Other employers will throw out some trick questions that can trip you up if

you haven’t prepared; take for instance “Tell us a bit about yourself,” or “What

interests you in working here?” Trust us, they really don’t want to hear about

your parents’ horrible divorce or that backpacking trip you took to the Andes.

Another potential pothole is “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Don’t be

fooled into thinking this is the time to share that you expect to open your own

shop in a few years, just as soon as you learn the ropes from the person interviewing

you.