Creative recruitment is difficult for candidates as well as employers. We have to find a candidate that has all the skills required but more importantly, will get on well and fit in with the team. You spend more time at work than almost anything else in your life, so why would you want to work with people who you don’t get on with. With this in mind, I want to hire you, stop making it so bloody difficult!
Confidence, not Ego
There’s nothing more off-putting than an inflated ego. Designers thrive on confidence and should be confident in their ability. But if that veers into ego it casts doubts over your ability to take constructive criticism and work well in a team.
One thing I look for that shows confidence not ego is your willingness to learn, design as a discipline is constantly evolving. You may be brilliant at web design, but are you looking at what’s next, are you interested in Augmented Reality, 3D design, are you excited by the latest typeface from Hoefler & Co. If you answered yes to any of the above, then it’s likely we’ll get on and you’ll push me and I’ll push you. What a start!
Your Portfolio & CV
Quality over quantity. There’s a sweet spot between showing varying disciplines and throwing everything at a portfolio hoping something sticks. What’s the point in having 4/5 killer projects only to dilute with 10 mediocre projects that you aren’t proud of?
Design is all about problem-solving, so show your process. The finished result tells about a quarter of the story, what was the brief, what was the problem, did your solution meet the objectives and how did you get to that solution? These are all things I look for when hiring as it shows your critical thinking not just your eye for design.
For CVs, less is more. One page is the goal and I’ve never read a CV and thought, this is missing something and needs another page. We’re busy people so keep it succinct. When showing your skills on a CV you are solving a problem, so if you solve that problem with bad design it will speak negatively to your ability. One major bug-bear for us when hiring is software skills charts. We see these on 95% of all design CVs and they are always pointless. As pictured, these charts aim to show your proficiency with different software but they are inherently flawed; what does 10/10 mean – are you a master of the software or is that your strongest skill? It shows your weaknesses more than your strengths, if you grade Photoshop the highest and Illustrator poorly, I’ll think you’re just terrible at Illustrator which is off-putting. What I would recommend instead is to simply list the software you are proficient in and let your portfolio show your ability.
You Will be Googled
Be careful what you say online, it goes without saying but in this day and age we research candidates on social media and use that information to inform hiring decisions. If you say something inappropriate or appear as though you wouldn’t fit in culturally you are making our decision for us.
As well as us Googling you, you need to Google us. Who am I, would you get on with me, do the directors share values with you, does our culture resonate. Above all you need to be happy working with us, otherwise, you’ll be miserable. So get to the bottom of us as a company and people and then you can decide whether you want to work for us. Turn us down if we’re not right!
Interviews are nerve-wracking processes and it is perfectly ok to be nervous. Whenever we are interviewing candidates we want to get the best out of you. That way if you’re great, we can stop interviewing. Nobody likes conducting interviews!
There are no trick questions, if I ask questions about your thoughts on our brand or work we’ve done, be honest. Nobody is perfect and I’m asking to gauge your critical thinking and ability to analyse existing work.
There aren’t generally ‘wrong’ answers in the interview process as it’s all about finding out whether you fit our company, we can teach skills that are lacking and invest in growing our team, so above all we need someone passionate, curious and engaging. However, there are some things to avoid: avoid speaking subjectively about your work, when going through your portfolio link your designs back to the objectives of the project, if you say things along the lines of “I used blue as I really love the colour” (you’re not Wim Crouwel) it makes me think you can’t design to a brief and take your personal feelings out of the project, so you will struggle on client work.
Would I Want to go for a Pint with You
If you’re successful in the first meeting, I have a good understanding of your ability and believe you suitable to the role. The second interview is to judge whether you’d fit in with the company and our culture. For that reason, we often conduct second interviews in a more relaxed location, be it a pub, a coffee shop or anywhere out of the office. This is your chance to be your charming and interesting self, what makes you tick? I’m a firm believer that everyone has their ‘thing’, that one interest that they can talk for hours on, tell me about it. For instance, I collect design books but am also a keen cyclist, so I’d talk about books I keep going back to or the complete arse that is Lance Armstrong (don’t get me started). You might love hiking, or knitting, or building computers. Whatever it is, it shows me you have passions outside of work and that makes me excited as I get to learn something new!
In conclusion, we look for passion, curiosity, and ability and we want you to show us all of those things. Keep your CV concise, your portfolio full of the good stuff and your interview focused on process and you can’t go far wrong.
If you’d like your portfolio and CV reviewed by us then don’t hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll come back with feedback to help you nail the job you want. And you never know, if you blow us away we might just hire you on the spot.