The day I thought would never come... the interview

Hi, So I graduated in 2008 and apart from a seven month adventure exploring the world and some freelance work (graphics, brand and web) I have been working non stop to improve my portfolio, website, projects, cover letter to find that all illusive first Junior Product Design role. It now seems that all my hard work has paid off as I have my first interview, and for a job that I really really want! I’m now trying to finish off my portfolio but had a few questions about further preparation.

Are there any questions that are likely to be asked that I can start thinking about now?

I’m planning on taking my portfolio, a digital copy that I can leave with them, an example of a product that I designed that is now on sale, a project from university which covers the entire process (to support pages in my portfolio) and possibly a couple of business cards, (thinking about it I might need quite a big bag!) is there anything else I should consider?

I’ve been searching the boards about what to wear to an interview, but all the subjects cover guys, any tips for girls?!

Is there anything else that I can do to prepare for quite a daunting situation?

I’m very excited but also very nervous, any feedback or helpful comments would be greatly appreciated!

Well done! I have just had the same news and came straight here to ask similar questions. I just think to get an interview in the first place they must like your work. I’m excited and really nervous. The job is 5 hours from where I live too so it would be a big decision. I have a slight problem, the day before my interview I have to attend court as a witness, this means I’d likely have to travel over night meaning I would look dopey in my interview :frowning: I’m guessing there’s no chance of my asking to switch an interview to another date?

P.S sorry for asking questions in your post but as they are similar I gathered it would make sense rather than making a new one. Good luck with yours :slight_smile:

Is this an in-house design agency? If so, you might work something up that has to do with what you will be actually doing. I had a ton of various projects in my portfolio when I interviewed, but at the last minute I did some work more specific to the job I was applying for. It ended up they were most interested in those designs and I was so happy I made that effort. Be enthusiastic about your work, this is your chance to actually sell yourself and your work, if you can get them excited about you that will be a huge plus. Good luck.

Hey p waddy, congratulations, on your interview. Definitely makes sense to have similar questions on the same thread anyway! Did you know that you had to be in court the day before when you accepted the interview? I guess it’s best to turn up on top form so maybe worth a call?

Mrtwills, thanks, I have a couple of projects that are relevant to the position that are already in my portfolio, I also have some personal projects that I’m working on at the moment, so I’ll put them in as work in progress. I’m hoping that my enthusiasm will come through when I go through my portfolio, but am worried that nerves will get in the way!

Congrats on the interviews, that is great.

There is actually a really good older discussion on “typical interview questions” or something similar, do a search for it, there are some gems in there.

What to where really depends on what type of place it is, but for a woman, a well cut pair of slacks or skirt and simple blouse is hard to go wrong with because it can dress up or down depending on the environment. But in general, just think about the company you are going to. If you go to Nike, Burton or lets say an Astro, everyone will be in jeans, t shirts, and sneakers… people that come in all buttoned up are seen as “not getting it”… while if you came in too dressed down to a place like GM, you might be perceived as unprofessional.

After all of that travelling and accomadation costs, I never got the job having just been informed via e-mail. I actually thought I did ok in the interview and wasn’t that nervous. At the end of the day maybe it came down to some small things as they have to pick one person. I might contact them for some feedback so I know for the future. Well it was my first interview so I can’t expect to be first time lucky with the current job situation. Guess I shall keep on trying and improve on my skills

Sorry to hear that. Always worth sending a brief email thanking them for their time.

I spoke to them on the phone for some feedback. It was quite positive and the reason for not being invited back was due to the fact I was unfamiliar with the specific CAD software that company uses as it was more engineer based and i’m only familiar with 3D Studio Max. Guess its a new area for me to develop now for next time.

Congrats on your interview. I’m sorry to hear you didn’t get the job though.

I’ve been in a similar situation the last few months. I’ve had a few interviews for full time work but nothing has come from it. The companies have all been very helpful when asking for a review on my interview. Just remember to keep your head up.

Most of the time I have been passed over for someone with more experience. Right now a lot of firms are able to get more experienced employs for less money than they usually would pay.

I got a call this morning for an interview with a company I’ve wanted to work for so I’m pretty excited about it. I’m hoping this will lead to some full time work. If not, then time to keep refining my portfolio, cover letter, resume, etc…

Good luck with your continued job search.

Thanks Ross, I wish you luck with your interview for a company who you really like. Just seen your portfolio, you have some nice wood working skills in there.

Because mainly ive been looking for internships, and applying for product design full time jobs advertised on graduate websites, there’s obviously a range of different style companies which has led me to think about maybe making a wider range of products in my portfolio. If i see a design position for say a mobile phone company, or a position at a packaging company, the portfolio isnt always going to suit most companies specific needs… Should I maybe do a specific piece of work for a job posting just to make the portfolio more relevant? Ideally i’d like to make my own shortlists of companies who id like to aim and work towards applying for, which would then show through my portfolio by basing my work on a specific product area. But to gain experience it might be at a completely unrelated company, so say if i were to apply for an internship in a furniture design company but my portfolio was based on medical or sporting equipment it wouldn’t help me?

Thanks for the complements.

I would say it couldn’t hurt to try and do some specific designs for some companies. I think showing a wide range of skills is a great way for an entry level position. I come from an architectural background so most of my ID work is in the furniture and household accessories areas. I’ve been trying to show some other areas of skills I have and really trying to work on my sketching skills.

I really think for entry level positions it comes down to your personality and how you will fit with a company and your general talent and the way you think about stuff. I could be totally wrong on that though.

I think as long as you continue to work and show development in your skills you should be set. You could probably do some a wide range of projects just for fun to show how you would solve various problems.

I have been following the ID Sketching and Sketch-A-Day blogs for tips on how to improve my sketching skills.

These sites not only help me to work on sketching but they give me a basis for being able to further develop a concept quickly.

Thanks Ross, that’s kind of what I have been doing. But in cover letters you obviously need to say why your a good fit for that company and have something to offer them. If they specialize in a particular area and you’ve got know experience in that area then some how you need to word it so that you are open to new product areas or something. Thats the only tough part for me when applying for different positions.

Regards the ID sketching site, I’ve been using that for a while now its a really great site that Spencer and Jon have got going on there with all the other guy’s. I’ve been using the productdesignforums too for getting really helpful feedback on sketches. It helps so much for me personally as I was never taught about sketching on my course.

Sorry to hear that you didn’t get the job p waddy. Looks like things are starting to pick up a bit though, with a few more junior roles around. At least it was good practice for future interviews. I guess it’s that push to continue improving skills and working on new projects for the next interview. I agree with mrtwills saying it’s a good idea to work on a project more specific to the role you are applying for. Whilst working on my portfolio I’ve tried to edit it so that it has some projects related to the role, whilst also trying to show a breadth of knowledge and skills, just hope they come across in the interview!

Ross, good luck with your interview, you have some really nice renders in your portfolio too.

I did another search on core and came across this post:

which has some nice examples of typical interview questions and how best to answer them.

I’m almost finished with my portfolio, so will head out to find an interview outfit. I’m thinking smart trousers and a blouse, nothing too over the top, but still professional. I guess it’s better to be over rather than under-dressed? I’m thinking of taking my portfolio on a disc so I can leave a copy with them, is this a good idea? Is there anything else I should consider taking, business cards, CV??

Only a week to go now, very excited!

Thank you!

It’s always better to come over prepared. I’ll usually bring a few extra copies of my resume and multiple copies of a leave behind portfolio. I will usually have my laptop with me also :laughing: It might be overkill sometimes. but it’s the best way to go I think.

I’ve just received another interview invite in a slightly different job position - market researcher. Its an internship but feel it may be a great starting point to me gaining some valuable experience in research that could maybe help me later on as a product designer.

Has anybody got any advice on how the interview might be different for an actual design position? Because a lot of my work is based on in depth research maybe I could still use my ID portfolio?

Congratulations on getting another interview! If you already have a lot of work based on in depth research then I’d say definitely take your ID portfolio along, just make sure to emphasise the research stages. Good luck!

I had my interview yesterday, which went ok, except for making a few silly nervous comments! I’ll find out next week if I’m invited for a second interview. So fingers crossed!

Thanks Whippy. Glad the interview went ok. I’m sure they would understand about being a little nervous so I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Let us know how you get on and if you get to the second stage.

Good luck!

Can anybody give me some advice concerning this feedback I was given for my second unsuccessful job interview please?

"With reference your performance at interview, you came across a likeable
person and a capable designer but we felt that you lacked confidence and the
positive ‘can do’ attitude we were looking for. I think you could also
benefit in your desired career path from becoming a little more commercially
aware and enterprising! "

It’s nice to get feedback but this one was quite disappointing for me as I see myself as a positive and enthusiastic person. The job role consisted of certain area’s I have no experience in such as IP issues. I think that may have had a big impact on my confidence.

However there was a suggestion that I could possibly have some freelance design work.

waddy, my .02, take it for what you will.

An interview, especially a second interview, is about personality fit. They should know your capabilities by then and the real driver is how you will fit into their culture. After reading their comments and looking at your web site, I don’t see a fit.

With reference your performance at interview, you came across a likeable person and a capable designer but we felt that you lacked confidence and the positive ‘can do’ attitude we were looking for.

I interpret this as, “You aren’t cocky enough.”

I think you could also benefit in your desired career path from becoming a little more commercially aware and enterprising!

And this I see as, “Don’t worry about anything else, we need to churn crap out that people will buy.”

Definately take them up on freelancing, but I wouldn’t worry about not scoring the job. You might hate working there in the end.

Again, just my .02

I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t get the job, but with that sort of feedback is it really a job you’d want? It seems very un-constructive for feedback. I’m guessing this was for a junior role, and surely junior roles are about learning the things that university couldn’t teach you, such as IP issues. By freelancing for them you could gain some of this experience to make you a better candidate for the next role, something will come along!

I heard back about my application this morning, and was surprised, and very excited to be invited for a second interview next week. I think this is my first ever second interview for anything! What should I expect?! It is with one of the people who interviewed me before and a director. Will they set me a task or anything, is it worth taking along some pens etc? They have just asked me to bring along my portfolio, is it worth changing some pages that I didn’t think worked too well in the first interview?Nervous again but looking forwards to it!