How To Begin
Interviews for creative opportunities in both the fine art and design fields have many traits in common. From making introductions, to answering questions, and negotiating contractual terms to name a few. Keep in mind that with the increasingly competitive talent population, earning an interview is a resounding achievement! The following guidelines will provide a strategy to be prepared, to relax, and to get the most out of the experience.
Preparation & Research
Learn as much as you can about the company or art organization. Review their website, social media, mission statement, news articles, interviews by their staff members and any other information you can find. Use LinkedIn to see who is affiliated with the organization and try to connect. If possible, try to experience their offerings as a consumer, whether it be product or fine art related.
What’s the point of researching? It will inform your critical impressions of the organization’s work. What do you like? Where do you see room for improvement? How do you envision yourself fitting into their company or art organization based on everything you’ve learned? You may be asked to describe why you want to work for that organization in particular. These answers will be the basis of your interview discussions.
Curate your portfolio or reel to highlight your best and most relevant work for the opportunity. Think quality over quantity. Leverage your RISD critique skills to present your work, walking the interviewers through your creative process, sharing background information and answering questions. For each piece consider framing the context, the users or audience, and creative decision making process.
Remain positive! An interviewer wants to learn not only about your skills, but also about your personality. It is important to keep your responses, and the interview in general, upbeat and positive. Employers want to hire enthusiastic and motivated people. Role playing with a trusted peer can help you feel comfortable and ensure that you are making the best impression possible.
Common concerns for students who are new to interviewing focus on what may be discussed and what questions could arise. Fortunately, the basis for most questions and discussion are easy to find!
The job description provides a definition of the role, the requirements, qualifications and basic terms of employment. Questions will likely revolve around your comfort level with important aspects of the job.
Example question: This job will require advanced skills in Adobe Creative Suite. What experience do you have and how would you describe your proficiency in the software?
Your resume / CV contains your credentials, skills and experiences so the employer’s questions usually seek further clarification or proof of what you’ve listed.
Example question: You mention in your resume that you enjoy teamwork. Why do you like teamwork and how do you stay true to your own vision?
Your portfolio / demo reel is commonly the most scrutinized and, at the same time, appreciated source of inspiration for an interview, so you should be prepared to share background information and explanation of your creative process.
Stories are the best platform for answers. Rather than declaring your proficiency or abilities, share the details from your previous experience. Not only are stories more interesting to listen to, but they add authenticity to your answers. Consider using the CAR Interview Method as a method for effective interview storytelling.
Example questions to answer:
- What led you to choose your major field of study?
- Share a story where you managed high intensity or pressure.
- Why are you interested in this position? This firm?
- What is the greatest challenge you have had to face? How did you handle it?
- How do you feel about working in a team setting?
- What are your strengths? Weaknesses or areas of development?
- What do you see yourself doing in the next year? In five years from now?
Example questions to ask:
Asking questions allow you to get off the interviewer’s script and learn more about the company, the interviewer and the job. At the same time, your questions are evaluated by the interviewer to gauge what is important to you and whether it is in line with the priorities of the team.
- What does a typical day in this position like?
- How would you describe excellent performance in this role? I’d like to learn the expectations for this job.
- What are the goals of the organization this year? How do those goals align with you (interviewer)? How would they align with me if I earn the job?
- How long have you been at the company? What do you love the most about your job?
- What were your biggest challenges in the past year? How did you work through it?
- Is there a forum for new ideas? Will I be able to contribute if I were to get the job?
Note: Don’t bring up the issue of compensation during the interview. It’s better to wait for the employer to ask. However, always be prepared to negotiate whenever the time comes.
Salary negotiation is a sometimes complex and nuanced discussion. It is difficult to explain briefly, and likely may require advising from one of the Career Advisers at the Career Center. However, being prepared by researching average salary numbers for your field as well as in your geographic location is a good start. Also, be sure to consider the benefits being offered, as this is a big part of your compensation.
After an interview, send a thank you note/email, as well as any additional materials the employer has requested, within 48 hours. Keep it short and sincere. If you don’t hear back within a week, send another polite note to check in on the status of your application.
If it turns out you don’t get the job but you like the company, keep in touch with your interview contacts once every other month. Remember that earning an interview is a excellent achievement and for that reason, you may find a better fit in a different position in the future.