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Spring 2021 ︎︎︎ CUNY Queens College ︎︎︎ (ARTS395) Senior Capstone

Interview Strategies


If you’ve gotten to the interview stage, you’re honestly most of the way there. That being said, you can still definitely jeopardize a solid application with a bad interview (speaking from personal experience as an interviewer and interviewee). I’m not going to include more generic tips like “dress well” hopefully some of that content goes without saying. For the sake of organization, I’ve categorized the strategies into before, during and after the interview.

Before the Interview

    • Being nervous means you care. ︎︎︎
    • It’s okay to be nervous. This means that you care about the thing at which your nervousness is directed. Your “nerves” (as in the system in your body that receive and processes input as pain, pleasure) are more sensitive because something important is happening. The goal is to use this sensitivity to help you. Breathe, hold something so that you do not fidget or end up tapping something loudly, be aware of your body.

    • Get your Zoom game tight ︎︎︎
    • The goal here is not to be the cutest designer in the game, but looking and sounding “professional” will help you stand out; and at least right now, this is the contemporary condition we are living under. This doesn’t mean you need to spend a ton of money, just sit near a window, help your abuela record her program for later so it’s not super loud in the backgorund, borrow your sister’s ring light she uses for make up tutorials, sit closer to the laptop but also try to elevate it.

    • Research where you are going to interview, but not creepily so. ︎︎︎
    • You’ll want to show up with a couple of facts that show you are interested in the company and have done some amount of research “I was looking online and noticed you worked with RC Cola, what was that experience like?,” but you don’t want to be creepy about it “How are your two kids enrolled in Pratt and Brooklyn College doing as they work towards their respective BFA’s?”  You’ll also not want to look like you don’t care and for example, know how to pronounce the name of the company:

      Depending on the size of the company you’ll probably also want to check out websites like glassdoor that could help you get an idea of what the culture is like at the company.

    • Take any interview you can get (within reason) ︎︎︎
      You don’t have to take every job you’re offered if you have the luxury, privilege, or opportunity to do so. Conversely, you can use interviews as spaces for practice. If you’re working somewhere, they might be promoting internally, this is a good opportunity to practice in a less risky space. Even if it is unrelated, for example if you’re working at H & M and they are hiring a manager, just apply. You might also want to apply for more jobs, or ones you are overqualified for in order to practice interviewing.

During the Interview

    • Just talk ︎︎︎
    • In an interview you may be asked to talk about a story of a time you helped someone, how you overcame a creative disagreement, where you want to be in 5 years. A lot of the time the answer(s) to these questions are kind of irrelevant. The interviewer wants to get to know you and is using the questions to understand where you are coming from and what you’re about. The goal here is not to take 10 minutes to pause and be the greatest raconteur possible by remembering your best anecdote, but just start talking. You may go off topic in an interesting way, you might want to ask them a question related to the topic you’re discussing. I’ve found that just starting the wheels turning by talking helps to generate the content the interviewer is directly asking for.

    • Be an idealized version of yourself, but be yourself. ︎︎︎
    • This will take a little bit of vulnerability or self-awareness which might be difficult to deal with. You might have a parent or sibling or friend who is willing to do a mock interview with you and very honestly tell you, conversationally and affectively where you might be weak. If you don’t have that, record yourself on your phone answering common interview questions. Are you saying like to an extent where it detracts from the meaning of a sentence? Are you able to express longer anecdotes or ideas and develop them for the listener or interviewer?

    • Stand out, but remain “employable” ︎︎︎
    • This is largely from being the “weird” person in several friend groups and workplaces. You do want to make yourself stand out and be idiosyncratic in some way, but you also want to seem as though you can be around other people and work collaboratively. 

After the Interview

    • Follow up and ask for feedback. ︎︎︎
    • During the interview, they may say they will follow up by a set amount of time or an ambiguous amount of time. They may have another person to interview, they may be busy and just want some time to think about it. That being said, be sure to follow up and see how things are going after 2 or 3 days and if you don’t get the job that you ask if they have the time or ability to let you know what didn’t work. They will more than likely say no, but it never hurts to ask. You may be thinking about it all the time so just be cognizant of how much you try to ask for any developments.

    • Listen to Frank Zappa ︎︎︎ It is possible you won’t get the job you want, you may have the talent  design but not socially, you might just not be a great fit for the job you want (yet), or someone else you know may get a great job. The thing to remember here is that it is not a zero sum game. That is to say, someone else getting an opportunity does not mean you are now unable to get a job.  The person who gets the job may be unable to accept it, they may have a new opening that you might be a better fit for, or someone you met waiting for the interview has their own company they are looking for freelance work for. The thing to remember here to do what Frank Zappa says. Don’t stop. Keep going. Keep applying, keep going through the motions and keep creating opportunities for yourself.

A note on homework

Please note that we will probably not conduct mock interviews in class, but if you want to schedule a Zoom appointment to do that you are welcome to do so. If you get an interview and you want to strategize about it you are also welcome to do that with me. That being said, your presentation about your Senior Project will be an opportunity to use your words to discuss your ideas.

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