If you’re looking for work, you’ve likely put a lot of effort into your application materials. But this is only half the battle. To give yourself the best shot at landing a job, you must be able to present yourself and your qualifications confidently—yet carefully—to different types of hiring managers. In essence, you need to tailor your messaging, whether you’re talking about your previous position or a certain piece in your portfolio, to the person and company to which you’re applying.
Following are some tips for winning over hiring managers at the most common types of organizations.
The Big-Shot Design Studio
Most creatives dream of landing a job at a major design studio at some point in their careers. A word of caution when interviewing with this type of firm: Check your ego at the door.
The hiring manager here is most impressed by creativity, not an “I am the best designer you’ll ever encounter” attitude. Let him or her ask the questions and do the talking. Don’t include items in your portfolio that aren’t outstanding, and make sure you’ve edited it down. Advertising and marketing executives interviewed by The Creative Group said they prefer seeing eight samples, on average, in a candidate’s book. Make sure each sample in your portfolio demonstrates creativity and a thorough understanding of the market segment and the client’s needs.
Avoid: Giving a hard sales pitch. This is a sophisticated hiring manager who has seen and heard it all.
The “Mom-and-Pop” Shop
Interviewing with a small business owner can be a far cry from meeting with a big-shot design studio manager. For this individual, it’s a big deal to bring in an “outsider.” In fact, it may even be this person’s first time hiring a designer. Plan to spend more time asking questions during the meeting to determine what he or she truly seeks in a new hire. And feel free to bring more of your work—you may even break the eight sample rule—to get a sense of what is most important to the firm. Demonstrating return on investment also is essential here: Discuss the value you can bring to the table and what you’ve done for other small shops like theirs.
Avoid: Jargon, even standard phrases such as CMYK. The hiring manager may have no idea what you mean, and it’s important to demonstrate you can communicate effectively in his or her business setting.
The Corporate Marketing Department.
This employer wants someone in the job yesterday. Many internal teams are running lean these days and, as they receive more work, are in a hurry to hire extra support, whether in a temporary or full-time capacity. Since the interviewer likely manages a budget and has to answer to higher-ups about where the money went, showing return on investment is essential here. This person will be impressed by examples of your ability to work with limited resources or cut costs where possible. Highlighting instances when you were able to meet tight deadlines also will work in your favor.
Avoid: Talking about how you’d completely re-imagine a project, particularly if you’re interviewing for a contract position. Corporate hiring managers are generally seeking those who can follow current direction versus branch out in unexpected ways.
Wowing an interviewer is mostly about focusing on his or her needs. By tailoring your presentation and communication style to the specific situation, you’ll set yourself apart from the competition and be one step
closer to landing the job.
The Creative Group is a specialized staffing service placing advertising, marketing, creative and web professionals with a variety of firms. More information, including online job-hunting services, candidate portfolios and The Creative Group’s award-winning career magazine, can be found at www.creativegroup.com. Keep up with The Creative Group at facebook.com/thecreativegroup or twitter.com/CreativeGroup.
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