9 Interview Questions You Can’t Afford to Answer Incorrectly

written by Georgia Schumacher 10 December 2014

Answering questions

In studying the creative arts, you may not have thought much about formal interviews. However, if you want to earn a living creating and working in your field, you'll need to be just as prepared as you would for any other career.

Know what common questions to expect and how best to answer them so that your personality and talent shines through. With a bit of preparation, you can look like a superstar in any interview and find the right organization for your artistic career goals.

1. Tell us about yourself.

With this likely being the most common interview question, your answer isn't the time for a full recounting of your life history. Focus on your craft, as that’s what the interviewer is interested in learning about. Briefly explain how long you’ve been an artist and share any artistic achievements relevant to the position.

2. What do you know about us?

This question is checking to see how much you prepared for the interview. You aren't expected to know every detail about the company or organization, but a basic understanding is necessary.

3. Why do you want to work here?

Answering "because I need a job" isn't what the interviewer is looking for. This question often follows the previous question. Convey your genuine interest in the company and explain why you believe your artistic skills would be a great fit for the organization. Explain your excitement at the thought of putting your creative talents to work for a company you truly believe in.

4. What are your strengths?

The interviewer wants to know your work-related strengths and weaknesses. Be prepared to back up your strengths. If you call yourself a problem-solver, make sure you have an example in mind of a time you solved a important problem and how this impacted your project.

5. What are your weaknesses?

Be honest with your weaknesses, but also explain how you overcome them. If you explain that you're a perfectionist, explain how you don't let that keep you from meeting deadlines or performing your job.

6. Describe your creative process.

This behavioral interview question allows the interviewer to gain an understanding of your work style and to determine whether you would be a good fit for the company culture. Practice articulating your creative process so you can describe it in a brief, easy-to-understand manner. Remember, the company isn’t just interviewing you ─ you’re interviewing them to see if you would want to work there. Be honest about your true creative process, rather than saying what you think they want to hear, because you want a job where you have the freedom to express yourself.

7. What media or methodologies have you used or do you use?

You may be asked as a general question: What methodologies do you prefer to use? Or, you may be asked while looking at a piece from your portfolio: What medium did you use? Either way, keep your explanation simple and refrain from using technical jargon unless the person interviewing you is using it. This is often a way to assess your skills and understanding of specific techniques.

8. Describe your creative inspiration.

This is another commonly asked question that allows the interviewer to gain a deeper sense of your personal values, personality traits, and genuine passion for the job. You’ll make a great impression if you can explain with confidence exactly what inspires you to do your best work. However, if you appear stuck when trying to identify a solid reason you enjoy your craft, the interviewer may question your dedication.

9. What type of work have you done in the past?

An interviewer wants to know that you have the creative skills needed to produce top-quality work for the organization. For this line of work, it’s not enough to simply discuss your past achievements ─ you need to showcase your talents by bringing your portfolio along. If possible, include pieces in your portfolio that are relevant to the specific job, to prove you have what it takes to shine in the position.

7 Things to Never Do in a Job Interview

written by Georgia Schumacher 3 July 2014

Many people say that first impressions are the most lasting. In a job interview, this is doubly true. Job interviews are your chance to make a stellar first impression in person. At this point, the interviewer knows a lot about your art school education, technical skills, and work experience from your resume and application, so it's time to put a face on that information. Make it count by avoiding these pitfalls.

1. Don't leave your cell phone on.

Before the interview, turn the phone off, or, if possible, don't bring it at all. Receiving calls or texts during an interview tells the interviewer that you have better things to do and that the job you're looking at isn't a priority.

2. Don't badmouth current or former employers.

First of all, ranting about a previous employer is unprofessional. Second, you never know how this company might be related to your former employer. Perhaps that company is a valued client, or maybe the interviewer's spouse works there. Play it safe and stay professionally neutral about entities with which you had a bad experience. It'll show that you're above emotional reactions in the workplace, as well as avoid starting off with any poor relations.

3. Don't forget to research the company.

Solid candidates do their due diligence before the interview by getting acquainted with the business, their products or services, what makes them unique in the industry, and other pertinent information. Go in with a good idea of what the company does, how they do it, and where they are headed.

4. Don't be late.

Being late sends off a bad vibe. The perfect time to arrive is about ten minutes prior to the appointment time. This tells the interviewer that you are punctual but not desperate.

5. Don't lie.

It's tempting to tell a little white lie to land a job you are confident you can excel in. Don't. Even if your job performance is outstanding, a company can fire you years later for lying on your initial resume, application, or during the interview.

6. Don't talk about money or benefits.

The interview is the midway point of the hiring process -- between the initial contact of submitting your application and the end point of receiving a job offer. Keep the interview about your qualifications and what you have to offer the company, as well as what they have to offer you in experience and upward mobility. Save the negotiations on pay and benefits until they have extended you an actual job offer.

7. Don't forget to bring an extra resume.

Always have an extra resume on hand in case the interviewer didn't get a copy, misplaced theirs, or needs a clean copy without their scribbled notes. Even if your resume includes a link to your online portfolio, don’t forget to bring a physical copy if at all possible so that you can better discuss your natural talent as well as show the creative work you completed in art school and past jobs!

Employment & Experience Gaps: Overcoming Resume Challenges

written by Georgia Schumacher 9 December 2013

Thinking about taking the next step in your career? Then it's time to look at your resume! For many people, however, building a resume can seem complicated. You may be entering a field where you don't have prior professional experience, or perhaps you have gaps on your resume from taking time off for personal reasons or being let go due to circumstances beyond your control.

Despite your concerns, these issues don't have to be dealbreakers, and, with a little ingenuity, you too can communicate to potential employers your value as an employee. Approach your job search with a positive attitude, focusing on all that you can offer employers. When you're working on your resume, consider these helpful tips.


Highlight the Experience You Have

True, you may not have spent the last year in a related job or even a formal role, but you may have completed a number of freelance or volunteer projects that required you to utilize the same skill set you'll use in a full-time position.

Think about it; have you been in charge of event planning, advertising, photography, or web design for any local clubs or businesses? Highlighting these projects and your clients shows not only that you are experienced, but also that organizations trust and value your skills and opinions. It's even better if you can demonstrate the success and outcomes attributable to your work. 

Focus on Your Skills

Employment and experience gaps are less apparent if you put emphasis on other parts of your resume, including your education, knowledge, skills and qualifications. Kim Isaacs, a Monster.com resume expert, suggests starting with an objective statement to “summarize your goal as well as your top qualifications. This will draw attention to your selling points and downplay your work chronology.” Also, when you're applying for jobs, don't let experience requirements scare you off, especially if the difference is only one or two years. If your skills and other qualifications match, the experience requirements may be a little flexible

Don't Let Your Resume Stand Alone

Your resume isn’t all potential employers consider when assessing your employability. Your portfolio will say a lot about your abilities and expertise. Plus, the cover letter is a powerful tool for communicating your skills, career goals and attitude. Craft your letter for the specific position for which you're applying and talk about how your past experiences and education have prepared you for success in that role.

Related Posts

- 4 Keys to Starting a Freelance Business
- Learn How to Impress in a Phone Interview
- 9 Sites to Use for Your Creative Job Search
- 6 Quick Ways to Take Your Resume up a Notch
- Top 7 Skills Your Graphic Design Portfolio Should Showcase

Learn How to Impress in a Phone Interview

written by Georgia Schumacher 14 October 2013

Phone for InterviewAre you a phone interview novice? If you’re applying for a new job, phone interviews are often the first step in the hiring process. Don’t get caught unprepared!

If you’ve never done a phone interview, you may have a lot of questions. How will it be different from an in-person interview? Why a phone interview instead of meeting face-to-face? Does this mean they aren't serious about hiring you? First of all, getting a phone interview is a great sign so don’t be nervous—be excited!

Sometimes employers screen potential candidates with a short phone call, while other hiring managers conduct a complete interview over the phone before inviting you to the office. Either way, let’s explore what you can do to be ready.

Once You Start Applying

1. Keep a contact list easily accessible with the company name, position and contact information for each position for which you apply. This way, you know immediately who is calling and about what job.

2. If possible, give the employer your private phone number. If you provide a number that someone else may answer, be sure that person will take a detailed message and inform you immediately when an employer calls.

3. Return calls within 24 hours. If you wait much longer, they may think you aren’t interested.

4. If an employer calls unexpectedly, explain that you would like to talk but you are busy at the moment. Politely ask to schedule time to talk later in the day or week. This gives you time to mentally prepare, review your resume and the job description, and think about any questions you'd like to ask.

Before the Interview

1. Find a quiet place for the interview, and advise others to not disturb you during that time. Be ready for the call a few minutes early just in case.

2. Print out a copy of your resume and job description and get a pen and paper for taking notes.

3. Practice like you would for any other interview – even though it’s over the phone, you’ll get a lot of the same questions.

4. Dress up a little – it can make you feel more confident and professional.

During the Call

1. Carefully listen to the interviewer, consider each question, and pause briefly before answering. Although it’s easy to ramble when you’re nervous and you can’t see the body language of the interviewer, just be confident and make your answers direct and to the point.

2. Toward the end of the call, ask about the next step in the process; this shows your interest and helps you understand what to expect.

3. Get the interviewer's contact information so you can follow up later.

After You Hang Up

1. Thank the interviewer in an email. Include a sentence or two about why you're a good fit for the position, relating it to something you discussed on the phone. If you didn't answer a particular question well during the interview, you can also briefly expand upon what you said on the phone.

2. Relax and reward yourself with something you enjoy! Hopefully, you’ll be hearing be back soon and on your way to the next step in the hiring process.

9 Sites to Use for Your Creative Job Search

written by Georgia Schumacher 25 September 2013

Search icon


Looking for an online job board specifically for creative professionals?

Here are nine of them!

1: TalentZoo

TalentZoo has almost 80,000 job listings posted by agencies, recruiters, corporate organizations and start-ups. Choose to search for Advertising Jobs, Marketing Jobs, Design & Creative Jobs, or Geek & Web Jobs, and use the advanced search function to get down to the details. As a bonus, you’ll find career advice blogs and articles and a place to post your resume and portfolio.

2: Krop

Krop is a creative job board that has been used by organizations such as Facebook, Nike, MTV, Forbes, Apple, Google, ESPN, the Museum of Modern Art, NBC, Gucci, Adobe, Walt Disney Studios, The New York Times and many more to find and hire talent. The site is also known for their easy-to-use tools for building and hosting portfolios.

3: Coroflot

Coroflot includes listings for creative professionals in all fields and for small local organizations to large international firms. In the past, they’ve connected job seekers with Fuseproject, Frog Design, Microsoft, Nokia, Landor, RIM, Nike, Intel, Blu Dot, and Sony. Search by job level, by companies or by specialties—selecting from specialties such as animation, art direction, graphic design, game design and awesomeness, to name a few!

4: Authentic Jobs

Authentic Jobs has been a popular job board for web professionals since 2005. The site has featured opportunities at Apple, Facebook, MSNBC.com, The Motley Fool, Estée Lauder, Turner Sports Interactive, ESPN, HBO, Phinney Bischoff, Garmin, Sony BMG, Electronic Arts and HP.

5: AIGA Design Jobs

Looking for design jobs? Try AIGA jobs—after all, it’s affiliated with the professional association for design. This job site has been around since 2004 and features postings from a wide variety of companies across the US.

6: Behance

Behance, better known as a platform for showcasing creative works, provides an extensive list of creative jobs and freelance opportunities. In addition to searching these job listings, you can follow them on Twitter at @BehanceJobs.

7: Smashing Jobs

If you’re looking for a career in design, stop by the Smashing Jobs job board, affiliated with Smashing Magazine. Smashing Jobs has posted jobs ads for companies such as Electronic Arts, Amazon, Lonely Planet, Garmin, Tesla Motors, Rockstar Games, MIT Technology Review, Mercedes, Activision, MTV and Nokia.

8: The Creative Group

The Creative Group features job listings from companies looking for interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations talent. Search by location, job type, employment type and the date the job was posted.

9: Creative Hotlist

Designed for creative professionals in visual communications, Creative Hotlist allows you to post your resume and online portfolio in addition to searching for and saving job posts. Search by keyword, location or job title.

See how the degree programs at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh -- Online Division can help you get on the path to doing what you love, for life.