How To Ace Your Job Interview

Date
Written by
Clara Finnigan
Commissioned by
If You Could Jobs

Every fortnight we ask creative professionals to dive into a different theme about the working world, with the aim of starting conversations and getting you thinking about your approach to work, life, and creativity.

In this week's focus, we're talking about one of the most important and nerve wracking parts of the hiring process, the job interview. We spoke to company leaders and hiring managers from Art&Graft, MOB Kitchen, Monopo London, JKR Global and Jelly London about the interview strategies they use to find the best candidates and some of their top tips to help job hunters stand out in their next interview.

Jones Knowles Ritchie

We want everyone to be their most authentic selves. Our culture is built on 'un-likeminded' individuals - so we're looking for more. So we always ask the question: ‘what makes you, you, and what of yourself will you bring to the role?'

Our advice for anyone coming into an interview with us is: never apply for an opportunity you're not passionate about. You can tell straight away when someone is just going through the motions - we want to meet people who have a genuine interest in our business, our values and the work we are doing and an appetite to build on it. You can always build skills, but you can’t build passion. We'd also say to always bring a sense of wonder to an interview - our industry is exciting, it’s fun, we are constantly in uncharted waters and creating new and unexpected work.

We’re looking for people to come on this journey with us - to challenge us, tell us how they’d do things differently, or how they’d build on what’s been done already.

Never apply for an opportunity you're not passionate about. You can tell straight away when someone is just going through the motions
Jones Knowles Ritchie

MOB Kitchen

We always ask, "What do you see as a perfect day at work?" as we find this demonstrates both an individual's work ethic and what makes them tick.

When coming into an interview with MOB Kitchen I would advice people to not be overly serious. Be human - particularly in the start-up world. Crack a joke, ask people about their day. Interviewers in small businesses want to envisage working with the individual that they're interviewing and to feel confident that working with them will both be a good time and be effortless. So try to be personable where possible.

I've also always been impressed when a candidate mentions or references the employment history of the interviewers - if relevant. It shows an eye for detail and a confidence - both of which are key at a start-up like MOB. 

Monopo London

One question we always ask is what type of projects and subjects the interviewee would love to try out or do more of, and see if this is in line with our vision of where we see the company going. As a small studio, we are at a stage where every new member strongly impacts who we become as a collective. In a small studio like ours, people need to be ready to try things they've never done before rather than be specialised in one specific skill, while other companies might be looking for the contrary. As a studio, it’s important to us that members feel challenged so we try to find projects that fit with the ambitions and interest of our members rather than just finding new members to fit the projects we’re already doing.

A common mistake, if you could call it that, is that many interviewees try to show the portfolio pieces that they think we want to see, while in reality we want to see the pieces that they are personally most excited about. We are looking for a sense of curiosity and experimentation so we want to see the personal projects, the experiments and the process behind the projects. Anything that can give us a sense of your personal approach to design.

We also notice that some interviewees take a passive approach to the interview process rather than showing their active interest. Follow-up messages for example mean a lot to us. A great follow-up message can confirm our positive impression of somebody or it can be an indication that somebody is really interested in joining us even if that didn’t come across as much during the interview. Not sending a follow-up message on the other hand can feel like the person isn’t actually interested. An impression is made during every part of the interview process, not just the interview itself.

We want our interviewees to remember to relax, we want you to be comfortable and feel like you can show your true self. We won’t put you on the spot or ask trick questions.

Jelly London

Jelly London always go straight to the ‘interests’ part of the CV in an interview and ask them about the things that they’re enthusiastic about in their spare time first, it’s the best way of making the interviewee more relaxed - and it’s also a great way of making them open up about themselves. It’s also the best way to find out if they’ve been lying! People always say ‘Art’ and ‘Cinema’ to make themselves look more cultural - even if their only cultural exposure has been watching “Below Deck Mediterranean” for the last 2 years (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

A common mistake that interviewees make is not doing their homework. They should be able to chat about recent projects, news or things that we’ve posted, so that we know that they have more than a passing interest in Jelly. Showing an enthusiasm for specific facets of the company that you want to be employed by not only endears you to the interviewer but reassures them that you’ve been paying attention in the run-up to the interview and haven’t just rocked up on the off-chance.

My advice to someone going into an interview with Jelly London would be, ask questions. I respect anyone who interrogates us about our goals and targets, it’s important that you aren’t just strolling blindly into a position that you haven’t researched thoroughly and checked on. If we are both committed to a long term future together then I’d rather we thrashed this out earlier rather than later. Don’t wait until you get a job offer or second interview to say what’s on your mind.

Ask questions. I respect anyone who interrogates us about our goals and targets, it’s important that you aren’t just strolling blindly into a position that you haven’t researched thoroughly and checked on
Jelly London

Art&Graft

One question we always ask is, "From our portfolio is there a project you would have liked to have been a part of?" We think it's a really handy question because not only does it indicate if the candidate is informed about the studio and familiar with our projects, but it also gives us an insight into their skillset, taste and ambitions.

When coming in for an interview with Art&Graft we recommend you come prepared with some of your work. If it's an online video call then have a portfolio, website or a presentation already open in another window so you can quickly jump into talking about your projects. Similarly, if we ever get back to face to face interviews then have a laptop, a printed portfolio or even a usb stick so we can have a look through the work together and talk about it.

We like to think our interviews are pretty relaxed so at the risk of sounding a little cliche – just be yourself. Ultimately we're looking for people who make the best work and want to be part of our team. So if we can get a sense of how you measure up against those two criteria, it's all good.