Writer: D.P. Leighton, Assistant Director - Creative Careers, Career and Professional Development Services
For artists, designers, performers and creatives, the interview process can be nerve-racking. We are creative and unique and there’s added pressure to prove that in an interview, audition or selection process. Each field tends to handle the selection process differently. The good news is that regardless of industry, most interviews begin with the same basic components. Conventional interview questions can be found in this handout. Once you have prepared for the basic components of an interview, it’s time to delve into the artistic side of things.
Start with "why", showcase your "how", tell them "what"
As a creative individual, your passion and purpose are often your biggest selling point. Everyone knows what they do. For instance, you are reading this article. Some people know how they do what they do. You are reading this article with your eyes and thinking with your brain. But few people know and can articulate why they do what they do. Why are you reading this article? Why are you in the arts? Why are you so drawn to do what you do? When pitching yourself, it is best to start with your "why." Then move on to your "how." Your "how" in this case would be your education, experience, skills and so forth. How are you able to effectively support your "why"? End by telling them "what," which in this case is the position you are being interviewed for. What opportunity are you looking for? What are your goals and dreams? What made you pursue this position at this company?
Showcasing your craft
Artists and performers have to be prepared to prove what they can do. This may come in the form of a portfolio, film reel, website, audition tape or live audition. Some applications or job postings will have instructions on what they want to see during an interview. Follow those instructions! You will likely be removed from consideration if you don’t follow directions. One helpful tip is to try and find people who have interviewed at that firm, auditioned for that company or are working in your chosen field. These people are the best to ask for tips and tricks to show your creative craft and technical skills in a portfolio review or audition.
Speak with confidence
If you are discussing your portfolio in-person, be prepared with talking points on each project. Prepare with these questions: What was the assignment or job? What was your involvement? How did you do it? What might you have done differently? What did you learn? It can be nerve-racking and quite emotional to have your work reviewed by others. Never get discouraged! It is common for the hiring committee, judges or interview panel to remain stoic and reactionless when looking at your work. If they don’t respond the way you hoped, it does not mean you won’t get the job. Your confidence is another factor they consider in the interview process and they are looking to see how you react during the interview.