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.

Discover Career Opportunities in Interior Design

written by Georgia Schumacher 8 August 2014

Interior lighting choicesSo you're interested in crafting and selecting window treatments, lighting fixtures, materials, and room designs? You're in luck: if you pursue a career in interior design and are looking at interior design schools, you're headed for one of the most versatile career paths there is. When you pursue a career in the interior design field, you can choose from all sorts of specialties. What you choose will depend on your passion. Here are a few careers to consider.

Go green

Did you know that over 70% of consumers consider the environment when making a purchasing decision? That may be the reason that careers in sustainable and green interior design are taking off in a big way. As a green designer, you'll translate your appreciation for the Earth into a career, selecting fabrications from more sustainable materials and working with professionals who are passionate about green building techniques.

Stomach appeal

Love the kitchen? Maybe you should pursue a career as an interior designer specializing in kitchens. It is common knowledge that kitchens sell houses, and with interest in cooking and food higher than ever, everyone is looking for a kitchen that warms their heart, fills their bellies, and adds to their home. Why not specialize in this challenging but growing field?

Home away from home

Hospitality is big business—in fact, the global hotel industry is projected to rake in $550 billion by 2016. Hospitality projects are not only about designing gorgeous hotel rooms. Hotels and other tourist attractions need designers with sweeping, grandiose visions and a creative touch to turn common spaces, restaurants, and living spaces into areas worth visiting.

Center stage

As residential real estate recovers and first-time homebuyers prepare to enter the market, home staging is taking center stage in interior design. Buyers and sellers alike are looking for homes that are prepped for sale with attractive designs that play up a home's benefits and minimize its flaws. Best of all, as the market picks up, interior decorators looking to stage will find lots of opportunity and plenty of ways to flex their design muscle.

You decide

Whether your passion lies in commercial spaces, cozy homes, or anything in between, there's an interior design school and career for you. Follow your passion and you're sure to find a career that plays off your personal interests and takes advantage of your design education.

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!

Why You Need an Online Portfolio

written by Georgia Schumacher 1 July 2014

Online PortfolioThere are many reasons why you, as an art school student or graduate, should have an online portfolio, but finding jobs and landing project work are certainly two major reasons to make sure yours is up and running. It doesn't matter if you're a freelancer trying to fill your schedule with client work or a career creative working your way up the corporate ladder--an online portfolio is one of the most important assets you can have. Here's why:

Freelance Creative Professionals

As a freelance creative professional, you're asking clients to take a chance on you. Until you have a reputation for delivering quality work, your portfolio is the only thing they know about you and your services.

Take photography for example. Today, everyone has a friend or family member with an fancy SLR camera that seems professional. However, not all of these photographers compose professional images or have studied photography at an art school. An online portfolio helps clients figure out who can deliver top-notch work versus those whose pictures are less polished. The same is true of other creative services where the lines between amateurs and true professionals can be hard to see without work samples.

Creative Careers and Job Searching

Sticking with the photographer example, it's easy to throw the title “photographer” on your resume. Anyone with an SLR camera and a single paying client can call themselves a professional photographer. This makes it difficult for hiring managers to differentiate between the top talent and relative beginners. However, one look at your online portfolio will let an employer know exactly what type of work you can deliver.

Even better, having your work show up in search results can yield unsolicited calls from staffing companies looking for your skills and services. Rather than plastering your resume all over town, create an online portfolio and employers can contact you directly.

These same ideas apply to all art school students and creative professionals, including web designers, game designers, photographers, interior designers, animators, graphic designers and all manner of creatives. Starting an online portfolio will help you:

• Land freelance gigs.
• Find side projects.
• Get in front of interviewers.
• Have your projects appear in search results pages.
• Land the job you've always wanted.

People need to see what you've created if they're going to hire you for their next project, and an online portfolio is one of the best ways to display your talent for prospective clients. Get started on yours today!

Interested in attending a creative arts school? Learn more about The Art Institutes!

Essential Advice for Pursuing a Creative Career

written by Georgia Schumacher 3 June 2014

Person Starting a New Career

You're a creative person, and you've always wanted to pursue your passion as a career, which is exactly why you came to art school. When you have that special combination of talent, passion, and a drive to succeed, an art school education followed by a creative career is an obvious choice.

You bring a lot to the table as a creative individual, including innovation and a unique way of looking at challenges and tasks you encounter in a day-to-day workplace. With the possibility of automating more menial tasks in many industries, employers look for employees who have strong critical thinking skills, interesting perspectives, and thought processes that can't be replicated by a computer—employees like you. However, to set yourself up in a creative career that is fulfilling and financially stable can take hard work and dedication, so here are some techniques to get you started.

1. Market yourself

"Show your work" is a common adage in the arts, and it applies just as well to creative careers. Learn how to sell yourself. Your business skills are arguably as important as your creative talent, and if you can't market yourself, it doesn't matter how good you are at what you do. Learn how to reach clients through social media profiles, maintaining a blog, and creating an online portfolio so you can easily show it to companies looking to hire. These skills serve you well whether you're after a job at a corporation or agency, or you want to end up creating a thriving freelance business.

2. Bolster your network

The next essential is networking within your industry. Many jobs are all about who you know, and in the creative field, that means who you sees your profile and portfolio. Stay in touch with the people you went to art school with and get to know other alumni. Talk to people about your work, attend trade shows, conferences, and directly visit businesses that hire for the type of work you're looking for. You want to get to know people, companies, and the movers and shakers in your field.

3. Plan your progress over time

It’s always good to dream big, but you’ve got to plan a path to reach your end goal and accept that working your way up will likely take time and hard work. Remember, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities only come around, well, once in a lifetime!

You may not end up in your ideal job immediately after graduating from art school, but as long as you're actively taking steps towards career progression you can build up to the position and salary you desire. Two ways to move forward in your career after art school include taking freelance jobs to expand your network and your professional portfolio, and applying for jobs across a variety of industries that may be interested in your particular creative flavor.

Resources

12 Practical Tips for Those Pursuing Creative Careers 
9 Dream Jobs that Actually Pay