October 13th, 2010

Tapping a Pencil by Rennett Stowe, on Flickr
Original Image by Rennett Stowe

It amazes me, in this day and age how many people fail to prepare themselves when going for a web design job interview – or any job for that matter. Is it really that hard to make sure your CV is up-to-date, those websites you designed have links that work and not to mention, presenting yourself as someone who can get the job done.

I say this because I have been in this situation before. You think you’ve got everything sorted so you send your CV to the employer but you realise you forgot to include a link to that really cool portfolio site you designed which had all those jQuery effects like fades, slides, etc. Yes I suppose you could resend it but does that really look professional? Probably not, but you do it anyway, forgetting all the while that some employers see that first correspondence as your first test of how you present yourself. Of course, if you go through a recruiter you don’t have to worry about that stage of the process.

The point of this post is to share some tips on how best to prepare for an interview for that perfect web design / development job you are going for and hopefully you’ll get it!

1. Update your CV

This isn’t going to turn into a CV writing process, there are plenty of articles on the web which cover this topic. I’m purely focusing on the things the employers will want to know from the off when looking for an applicant.

If you haven’t been looking for a job for a while obviously your CV is going to be out of date. The first thing you should do is have a thorough read through of it. One thing you will find in any job is when you go back to something you worked on a long time ago you always find sections you could have worded better. Make sure any links to websites you’ve designed are still active, you’d be surprised how many people fail to do this. Structure your CV so your skill set is one of the first things the employers will see, after that its best to include the places you worked and what you did. Don’t go overboard on explanations, sometimes its better to keep it short and sweet.

2. Prepare

This is something that some people always fail to do. If you are going for a job you really do need to do your research on the company before you go. There is nothing worse than when an interviewer asks you, “In what ways do you think you could improve the company website?”, from which you end up spouting out a bunch of tosh about how bad it is and it should be redesigned. Believe me, I’ve heard of those things being said before to an interviewer and the applicant didn’t come away the job. Try to be constructive rather than destructive!

3. Presentation

Turning up to an interview in ripped jeans, Vans shoes and a Firefox t-shirt will not go down well, even if you know the company isn’t particular about dress code. There is nothing wrong with the smart casual approach and if your still not sure, get out that trusty old suit. Remember to be confident not cocky, no one likes a smart arse. Don’t be too eager and say you’d like to do everything, it makes you sound desperate.

If its your first job its understandable you’ll want to make an impression, but taking on too much and working after hours won’t always in the long run make people think your a dependable and hard-working individual. Worse – they could start expecting it!

4. Know your limits

In other words – no BS. Saying your a .NET guru when you really have only dabbled in it will do you no favours if they suddenly spring a test on you in the interview. Experienced interviewers will know and if they don’t you may get found out eventually when you do get the job. Of course, there are some people that have blagged their way through an interview and ended up getting the job they wanted, but seriously, how often do you think that happens?

5. You don’t ask, you don’t get!

I can’t stress how important it is to ask questions. Remember, you are looking for the right job for you, your not just there to please them, don’t make the mistake of assuming. Job descriptions can sometimes be a bit vague so you need to be sure. Think of some questions to ask in relation to the company or the role in general. It shows that you’re interested and you take it seriously. Some people go through whole interviews and not have a thing to ask the interviewer and in the end it won’t leave a good impression.

You shoot, you score!

So, after all that, you did it, you got the job! You came across perfectly in the interview and demonstrated why your the one they needed. Now, don’t slack! Some people tend to take having a job for granted and don’t do what is required of them. Don’t be a lazy designer and take short cuts like failing to comment your code or using inline styles in your CSS (unless of course your designing an HTML email). Keep up-to-date with the latest web trends and technologies by bookmarking or subscribing to sites like TechCrunch, Mashables or Technorati. Learn in your own time if you want to progress further or if you get a job which offers training, even better!

Don’t just take my word for it though, have a look around on-line. There are plenty of sites out there which give more detailed job advice, and anyway, its always best to research everything before you go.

Best of luck to any of your who are looking or going for an interview at the moment.

Keep it up, you’ll get there in the end.

Let me know what your thoughts are by posting a comment.