When you interview at an architectural or design firm, you’re probably competing against several other candidates. Most will have the same skills as you, and many will have similar experience as you. The hardest part of any the job hunt is standing out from the crowd. Here’s how you can differentiate yourself and receive great job offers.
Be More Personable
Leverage your research to be more personable (and relatable). Read the company mission statement, the job description, and the interviewers’ professional bios. Research the projects they have done and that are on the boards. You want to know something about the firm and the interviewer so you can make a connection with them and possibly a team.
During the interview, use the names of your interviewers often. This also helps build a connection. Next, try to find common ground. Look for shared interests and goals. It is also helpful to quickly assess the personality of the interviewer. If they have high energy levels, try to match them. If they’re more laid-back, then you can be more relaxed during the interview. This will help the interviewer relate to you better.
Know What You Bring
Educate yourself on what you bring to the table. What skills and experiences do you have that will meet the company’s needs or solve their problems? Most candidates will have similar skills, but how they frame those skills matters. Managers often hire based on personality, so you want to show them that you’re a problem-solver who can take initiative. Take your portfolio with you to the interview. The interviewer can see what you have to offer more clearly if they can visualize your designs. While you’re preparing for the interview, really think about stories and examples that will illustrate your skills and accomplishments. It’s one thing to say you have strengths, it is another thing to show that you have strengths.
When we are nervous, we tend to talk faster. You have to try really hard to control those nerves so you can pace the interview. You don’t want to rush through it. The interviewer will remember the person they interviewed for thirty minutes better than the person they interviewed for ten minutes. Plus, when we rush, we are more likely to make mistakes. When you’re asked a challenging question, it’s usually better to pause and prepare a great response than to say the first thing that pops into your head.
As a final note, remember to ask questions. Ask about ideas, company objectives, etc. You want to show them you are deeply interested in the company and that you are eager to be a part of the team. Standing out during the job hunt is challenging, but these tips will help. And if you really want to make a great impression, bring coffee.
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