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Q::What kind of design software are you familiar with?
A::When interviewers ask this question, they’re trying to find out if you’re able to use their in-house
software, or how quickly you’d be able to learn if you’re unfamiliar with it. Obviously, your
best-case scenario is to know ahead of time what kind of software they use. If you already know
how to use their preferred software, this will be a pretty straightforward answer.
If you don’t know their software or you have no idea what they use, this can be a tricky question
to answer. Tell them what you do know, and try to include any program you think they might
use. If you use something that’s similar to another program, that can also be a big help and the
interviewer might not always be able to make that connection, so be sure to do it for them. For
example, if you use one of the many Photoshop alternatives out there, you probably understand
the basics of Photoshop too.
Express a willingness to learn new programs—this is a good idea even if you’re familiar with
their in-house software. You never know when the company might upgrade to new software, so
designers who can make the switch without taking a long time to adjust are always favorable
candidates. If you’ve ever had to learn new software for a job in the past, be sure to mention this
in your interview.
Q::What have you learned from your mistakes as a graphic designer?
A::We’ve all made blunders along the way. Employers are sympathetic to this fact, but they also
want to work with designers who have learned from their mistakes and improved their craft
because of it. Be prepared with examples from your career that demonstrate your ability to
bounce back from a mistake—without making you look like a total doofus.
Employers also want to see that you’ve learned from your mistakes—not just that you’ve learned
to avoid making the same mistake again, but that you were able to adjust the way you work or think. They want to know how this mistake has made you a better graphic designer, not merely
that you were able to save face after the fact.
Perhaps making a mistake in a graphic design program inspired you to research and learn more
about it, to not only prevent future mistakes but discover new ways to improve your craft.
Employers see you as an investment, so you have to show them that you’ll only get better with
time, and that the longer they stick with you, the more value you’ll demonstrate.
Q::What kinds of print media have you worked with?
A::If you’re applying for a job designing print media, chances are the employer is going to want to
know what kind of print you’ve worked with in the past. This also rings true for any design job,
not just print—employers want to know how comfortable you are working in different mediums.
This is because employers want to know if they’re going to have to train you on anything down
the line, which could be expensive on their behalf. So they want to see what you already know to
gauge how much further you still need to go. Be sure to mention the types of media you’ve
worked within, the equipment you’ve used and any formal training you might have received
along the way.
If you can manage it, bring examples of your past print work for the employer to see. Since this
is print we’re talking about, it makes an even bigger impression if you have actual, physical
examples that the employer can touch, hold and possibly even keep for themselves. Check out
our tips for designing a unique print design portfolio for more information.
Q::What qualities do you consider necessary for a good designer?
A::Everybody has their own opinion on what makes a good designer, and your opinion on the
subject can give potential employers some insight on how you operate. That’s because the
qualities you describe are going to be ones that you either already have or aspire to become
It’s best to go for a wide range of different qualities that show that you understand what it takes
to be a successful designer. If you say something like “a good designer is creative, imaginative
and has a unique sense of style,” you’re going to come off as a bit single-minded. Saying
something like “a good designer is creative, punctual and open to feedback” will make you seem
like you understand everything that goes into the job.
But don’t forget that the person interviewing you is likely going to hear a lot of the same thing
from every designer they talk to. Come prepared with a few unique attributes to set yourself
apart from the rest of those being considered for the job. Focus on unique attributes that relate
back to your own personal experiences as a designer, and also tie into the job you’re applying
for. Surprise the interviewer with an answer that is well thought-out and one they haven’t heard a
dozen times before.
Q::What kind of design projects interest you?
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