Make sure you actually take a portfolio with you. Whether it’s a website, PDF, Google slides on a laptop or iPad. Or even a printed book. Having something to leave behind can act as a reminder and show intent.
If you have a sample of a project to pull out, as you are discussing it, that is always a positive idea as well. Something tangible. That shows the finished project. You only need one of these if you do. Designers generally love talking about design, so having 3-5 key projects to talk through will prove rich ground for creative discussion.
If you can, tailor the projects in your portfolio based on the studio you are interviewing with. For example, if the studio creates a lot of editorial design, highlight and editorial design you have done. It will help them see how you could fit in and help with the work on offer.
A Creative Director will want to know ‘why’. They can see you’ve designed a logo and a letterhead, but they will want to know your thought process behind your design decisions. What was the brief and how did you come to the creative decisions you made?
Have projects in your portfolio that you can confidently talk to, discuss clearly and explain your process openly.
Other things to consider are, who else was involved in the project, who worked on it with you, what was your part – whether it was a student project or a commercial piece of work, ensure you acknowledge the input of anyone else.
Be proud and confident about your work and creative decisions. It’s also fine to speak about the things you wished you’d done differently in hindsight. Being skeptical about your own decisions shows a curious, questioning, and effective mind.
Interesting things to share would be what you learnt from the project or client. The insights about the client, audience or process that led you to decisions. It’s fine to talk about how you might approach or resolve something differently but don’t blamestorm.
Remaining positive throughout your interview is important.
Have some questions, even if it is just one, up your sleeve. Make the questions about the work, or the business. Do not ask about the salary on offer, or the hours of work, or if there is a car park. Ask questions that show you are genuinely interested and excited about the studio, the work they produce and the potential opportunity. Showing an interest in the work, team, and the culture and what you can bring will put you in much better light than asking when you get paid.
Is okay to ask about development, career potential, and the clients you might work on.
Be positive. Make sure not to be negative about past experiences. Don’t blame others, rather, show/discuss what you’ve learned or how you’ve grown from an experience that maybe didn’t go your way. Turn a negative into a positive.
Talk about the kinds of things outside of work, or the things you could bring to a studio environment, that get you excited, every new person brings a new dimension to a studio.
Not only will you be being interviewed on your work, but it is as important to a studio how you fit in and what sort of impact you will have on the team.
Remember to relax as much as you can, be yourself, be prepared, be genuine and enthusiastic. All interviews, whether successful or not, are experiences you can learn from, and new contacts you have made.