As your college days wane, you may be thinking of seeking employment using your hard-earned degree in interior design. If you have interviewed previously, you know this can be an intimidating experience. Some employers create the illusion of being confrontational to see how you handle the situation. The purpose of this interview tactic is to see how you deal with this stress. This gives the interviewer an inkling as to how you may deal with the stress of deadlines and schedules.
A job interview is your opportunity to sell your qualifications. It is also the venue to sell your personality. There are intangible skills that most employers desire. Here is the result of a 2016 survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE):
Employers rated verbal communication skills (4.63 on a five-point scale)
This skill rated above teamwork (4.62) and the ability to make decisions and solve problems (4.49), the two skills that tied for the top spot in 2015. In 2018, a NACE survey concluded that 99.2% of employers deem critical thinking/problem solving as very to extremely essential for new hires.
When applying to be an interior designer at a design firm, you should anticipate questions about your personal design tastes, people skills, knowledge of safety codes and regulations, and design experience. The interviewer will want to evaluate your ability to work with clients with diverse tastes to create functional, beautiful, safe living spaces that are as unique as their clients are.
The skill set of interior designers involves a wide range of capabilities. Examples are project management skills, communication, teamwork, and willingness to follow industry trends. Employers will evaluate these by asking behavioral or situational questions. For the inexperienced student, you can expect a series of hypothetical questions. Your answer to these queries will test your communication skills and knowledge of interior design.
Here are examples of possible interview questions:
- Imagine your client asks you to design a room in a way that is visually pleasing but not practical. How would you react?
- What challenges are you looking for in this position?
- How would you describe your work style?
- How can you be an asset to this interior design company?
- How do you handle criticism regarding your design work?
There will likely be questions related to you as a person. These may center on your college years, hobbies, personal goals, strengths, and weaknesses.
You should do your homework on the company providing the interview. This means researching the type of design work they do, the type of clients they work for, and the source of the majority of their business-is it commercial, residential or both? This research is significant. You need to prepare for the common question, what do you know about this company? The more you know about the company can increase your confidence. This knowledge helps prepare for the interview. If it’s a casual dress company, you’ll know the appropriate attire. If it is a very prestigious design firm in a major city, then business attire is better. It is always better to overdress than under — and to wear clothing that portrays professionalism. Keep accessories and jewelry to a minimum.
If you interned or worked part-time during the summer at a design firm, you need to bring a portfolio of any work you have done. Hiring managers have told professional recruiters how impressed they were with the candidates who brought examples of their work. Most job seekers fail to do this in preparing for a job interview. This one job interview tip alone will set you apart from other candidates.
If you lack a portfolio of work, be sure you tell the interviewer how your prior experience, however limited, will benefit their design work. This applies the focus on what you can do for the company.
Whether its interior design or biotechnology, the interview process is the same. Each employer wants the best candidate for the respective job opening. This may not be the candidate with the more advanced degree, experience, credentials, and certifications. These criteria combine with what you bring as a person to the interview. A candidate who looks fantastic on a resume but is combative in the interview will likely be a bad fit for the company.
There are sources to assist you with honing interview skills. An example is the Goodwill Community Foundation (GFC) LearnFree.org. For more than a decade, the GCFLearnFree.org program has helped millions around the world learn the essential skills they need to live and work in the 21st century. From Microsoft Office and email to reading, math, and more, GCFLearnFree.org offers more than 180 topics, including more than 2,000 lessons, 800+ videos, and 55+ interactives and games, completely free.
Another valuable source for online courses at a nominal fee is Coursesa.org. This learning platform provides universal access to the world’s best education, partnering with 149 universities and organizations. Coursesa offers over 2,000 courses in over 180 specializations. Some of which apply to interview techniques.
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