Tips to help you be ready for your next design job interview

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Graphic design jobs are frequently few and far between. It’s important that you are prepared for any design job interview you might be lucky enough to land. Below you will find a number of tips to help you be more prepared for your next design job interview.

interview1. Update your online and print portfolios.

Tastes, styles and opinions are constantly changing in the design industry. The most important factor in landing your next design job, therefore, is the quality of your portfolio- both in print and online.  Before visiting with a potential employer, go through your portfolio and consider the following:

  • Is your personal branding and style up-to-date and consistent?
  • Does your portfolio contain only your best work?
  • Are there any pieces that injure the overall impression of your portfolio? If so, remove them.
  • Have you put your best foot forward by highlighting your best work?
  • Are your portfolios easy to navigate and understand?
  • Do your online and printed portfolios match in style and content?

For more portfolio tips, take a look at “What professionals look for in a creative portfolio“.

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2. Think about and practice your elevator pitch

What’s an elevator pitch? It’s a quick explanation about yourself, your abilities and your aspirations.  It should only be thirty-seconds to a minute and a half long and should highlight your strongest points. The term “elevator pitch” comes from the idea that if you had just one short elevator ride with the ideal employer, you could effectively explain what you do and who you are.

Practice your elevator pitch with your friends or significant other to make sure you’ve got it down perfectly. Your new pitch can help you land an interview or really impress your potential employer during the interview itself.

3. Update and print your resume

This may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure your resume is as simple and concise as possible.  Ensure you only include relevant information concerning the job you desire.  It may not be necessary to include your summer job at the Burger Barn unless there is some skill or ability that you would like to flaunt.

For the most part, include design jobs or experience you have had.  It may also be appropriate to include applicable university classes if this is your first design job interview.

Regardless of what you include on the resume, make sure it is relevant, easy to read, and concise.

4. Tailor your preparation to the potential employer

This step will give you the edge over your competitors in the job hunt: Prepare for each interview specifically. In preparation, you may want to:

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  • Visit the company website and learn about the type of projects they work on.
  • Learn the names of the top officers and company leaders.
  • Prepare some possible questions about the company and your potential job specifically. (This shows genuine interest in the job.)

To learn more about what employers are looking for in their creatives, take a glance at “25 attributes employers look for when hiring creative people“.

5. Use all of your resources

One huge mistake many new designers fall into is thinking they know more than they do.  To be a good designer these days, you have to do more than earn a degree from a college or university.  Stay up to date on popular design blogs (Read “20 design blogs I subscribe to – and you should too“) and contribute frequently to the design community.  Take the first step and subscribe to this blog via RSS or email for FREE!

6. Create something for them to remember you by

It used to be that designers would take CD’s with them to leave with their potential employers. This gave employer’s a chance to see more of their work after the interview was over. While this is still an appropriate thing to do, a more impressive act would be to host, design and maintain your own portfolio website. (Here’s a gift for anyone wanting a deal on hosting. Email me if you want more.)

Any potential employer may not have much time to interview you but he can visit a website after the fact.  Create business cards, pens, keychains, whatever cheesy (yet creative) thing you can come up with that will help a potential employer remember you.

There are countless tips for those who are searching for design jobs or preparing for a design job interview.

What tips can you add to the list?

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About Preston D Lee

Preston is an entrepreneur, writer, podcaster, and the founder of this blog. You can contact him via twitter at @prestondlee.

Leave a Comment



  1. Great article, fantastic advice for anyone looking for a job in graphic design. I especially like you advice on the elevator pitch, that can win or lose the job.

  2. Why are you giving the tips to get designing jobs?
    Recession swallowed millions jobs.

  3. In terms of leaving something behind for potential employers to remember you by (or direct them to a website) I want to stress that it needs to be creative. At the very least it needs to be well executed. Personally, I think keychains, pens and business cards are stale. For example, get a small book printed from with your best work. You can get these pretty cheap and give them to the employer after your interview, or send it in response to a job posting. Another idea, buy some cookies or something that come in a metal tin and make your own label with your contact info on it. Whatever it is, it should be unique and look great.

  4. Great great tips!

    While reading that, Now I’m thinking to give and interactive CD to my employeers or customers after my interview with my portpholio, and give them something cool to leave in their offices.

    Maybe a Big Clip with a original form with my name…one of that clips for the bunch of papers that everybody has on their desktop.

  5. Great post, Preston! I would add a couple of things:
    1) In some interviews (depending on the job and its requirements), you may be asked to do a test design (used to be common in newspaper positions). Don’t panic and remember, it doesn’t have to be exact – they just want to visually see you do know what you’re talking about and can do the work.

    2) This may be a rehash or help for #3: Remember to keep your skills sharp and up-to-date as well. By reviewing your resume you’ll see what skills you should brush-up on. You never know when you’ll get that call and need to call on those skills for a job interview. Case in point: A friend of mine recently posted for a job (again, newspaper) for a position in the web department and had to create and post a Flash ad! He did finally get it but it took a while longer than he originally thought because he’d been away from Flash and actual coding for some time.

  6. Designers should create their portfolio online so the employer would check it later.


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