Whether you’re interviewing for a position as an interactive designer of physical products or software, employers are interested in the same principles. They want to know how creative you are, how you solve problems and how well you relate to others, especially clients and prospective clients. Be proactive during the interview and use every opportunity to give specific examples of your achievements.
What’s Your Pedigree?
A prospective employer wants details of your education and experience. The interviewer may ask a very general question such as, “Why are you the best person for this job?” Or, she may ask you to describe how your education, training and previous work experience are relevant to the open position. This is a good opportunity to highlight not only your formal education, but also any additional study or certifications you have completed that might set you apart from other job candidates. When you speak of your previous experience, don’t just list the places where you worked. Elaborate on particularly challenging design projects you’ve worked on, how you overcame the challenges, and what the results were.
Do You Play Well with Others?
The classic stereotype is that creative people have difficulty with interpersonal skills. So, the interviewer is likely to ask questions about how you interact with others, from peers and managers to clients and prospective clients. For example, he might ask if you work well on a team, or if you generally get along with managers. Give a specific example of an interactive design project you took part in, either as a professional or a student, that required extensive collaboration with others. Let the interviewer know your responsibilities on the team, how you collaborated with others, and what the outcomes were. If you are an interactive web designer, the interviewer might ask how you would attract new clients. She might also ask you to describe your experience in working directly with customers, or if you’ve participated in making presentations to prospective clients. Describe some of the techniques you have used to win new clients and to ensure you met their needs.
What You Do Well and Where You Struggle
The interviewer will want a good understanding of what you do well and in what areas you might need help, oversight or training. Be ready to answer questions about your strengths -- which should be fairly easy -- and also about your weaknesses. In both cases, be specific. Instead of saying you have strong design skills, provide examples of specific products or programs you have designed, how they improved on previous models, and how they helped former employers grow their business. Don't pretend you have no weaknesses or answer with a response like, “I just don’t know when to quit working.” Instead, explain a real shortcoming, but focus your answer on how you’ve worked to overcome it. You might say something like, “Because I’m a perfectionist, I tend to want to spend longer on projects than my boss might like. But I recognized this shortcoming and took a time management class. I haven’t missed a single deadline in the last six months.”
Some employers want to know how an employee candidate thinks. You won’t be able to study for this in advance, but be prepared for the possibility that the interviewer will ask you how you would design something fictional. It might be something realistic, such as a new kitchen appliance, or it could be a fictitious challenge, such as, “Design a tricycle for cats.” Don't be taken off guard by questions like this. Embrace them as a challenge. Relax, show confidence and use this as an opportunity to demonstrate your skills and creativity.
A retired federal senior executive currently working as a management consultant and communications expert, Mary Bauer has written and edited for senior U.S. government audiences, including the White House, since 1984. She holds a Master of Arts in French from George Mason University and a Bachelor of Arts in English, French and international relations from Aquinas College.