how to… apply for a job with a design agency (part II)

February 18, 2014

written by
Bri Martinez

The 300FeetOut team often receives inquiries about job opportunities with our studio. We are always happy to speak with individuals, whether the goal is to simply network, or to see if they might be a good fit for our team. Sometimes, however, there is a lack of understanding on the part of the applicant regarding best practices for interviewing with an agency. The 3FO team has been writing a series of blog posts recently to pass along tips that will make the process easier for all involved. Check out the first post in this series here to see our recommendations for how to apply with a design agency.

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Got the interview? Great news! Now let’s make sure you’re well-prepared so you can get that foot in the door!


Always have your portfolio.

Whether it’s on a laptop, drive, or look book, just make sure you have it and it’s up-to-date. Don’t assume that you’ll have access to a computer during an interview at the agency. Nailing down simple things like this shows that you can be prepared for meetings (and just prepared in general!). Physical samples of your work that may not shine digitally and a printout of a CV are always appreciated additions. Also remember to edit down. This is an important one, people! Strong portfolios are built with your best work, not every project you’ve ever worked on. Think twice about including Grandma’s 75th Birthday invitations. Unless, of course, Grandma asked you to create a stellar responsive site, iPad app based invite, and print mailers for her shindig where she’s having Mick Jagger perform.


Assume you’re starting from scratch.

Agencies, particularly those who are hiring, are busy. Don’t expect that the agency will have a chance to review your work in detail before they meet you. More likely than not, someone scanned over your application during the early stages of the process, but chances are they’ve seen multiple candidates and sometimes applicants can start to run together. It is not uncommon for people who may know nothing but your name to be pulled into interviews at the last minute. Make sure they aren’t lost. When you’re practicing about what you’re going to say when you’re there, make sure you don’t forget to start at square one.


Leave the attitude at home.

Be ready to wow the team, but don’t come on too strongly. There is a difference between a confident designer who receives feedback well and an egotistical designer who wails when someone kicks his sandcastle. You need to show that you’re strong and opinionated (that’s how we know you’re full of brilliant ideas!), but you also need to be able to demonstrate modesty. If every design agency was full of huge designer egos, we would have none of the beautiful creative work that we so often see because chaos would reign over the studio. We get to enjoy and appreciate that work because the best teams are made up of confident designers who listen and iterate.


Gather all the information you need.

If you have any questions, call or email your contact before you go. If you need to know if there is street parking, ask them. For many of these types of issues, an even better solution is to become self-sufficient and find the answer to your question yourself. Of course, some questions need to be asked (e.g. If you don’t have a laptop, ask if one is available for you to use). Planning ahead and being prepared are good starting points for having a successful interview. Be sure to practice what you want to say to your potential future employer.

Our next post in this series will address what you need to know regarding the actual interview itself, so keep an eye out for that.

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