Creative Interviews & Presenting Portfolios

I’ve just written a post for Mommikin (a place for Moms to find Creative Inspiration) called How to Present Your Digital Portfolio.  I am really excited about this post and their site overall as there are some really talented creative women there, so please check it out.

But right before this article was posted, something I had written for Talent Zoo a couple years back was reprinted called: The Etiquette of the Creative Interview.  When I reread the article I realized that what I said about the portfolio needed updating, so i was very happy to write this more recent post on Mommikin.

But the thing that had everyone talking was that I said not to wear a suit to an interview.  I still stand by this advice, but I would probably word the article differently.  So I’d like to address a few points here on my own blog.

Creative interviews are quite different than other types of interviews and here are 5 things to consider:

1. STAY ON YOUR TOES:  Meeting with a Creative Director who is asking you about your recent trip to Morocco may appear casual, but I assure you that you are being evaluated.  Stand up straight, speak clearly, look them in the eye, listen to what they’re saying.

2. SUIT VS NO SUIT: If you normally wear suits and are most comfortable in them, then by all means, wear a suit. But consider that most agencies want their creatives to be the original thinkers, the ones that break the rules to create great work.  I would rather see a creative person arrive in a creative outfit, than a standard issue suit.  If you’re comfortable in a suit, that’s fine, but make sure it fits impeccably, and make it your own, either with a tie (preferably not a Bugs Bunny tie, but something tasteful and elegant), or a pocket handkerchief and don’t neglect the shoes because we notice them.  If you’re a woman, and would like to wear a suit, then that’s fine too, but make sure it shows some creative flair. Personally, I look terrible in them so i would prefer to wear a skirt or nice pants and add a beautiful accessory. Shoes are also important as long as you can walk in them properly. The point is to show you are creative with excellent taste and you respect the interview process. In my article, I had said a t-shirt is ok and in hindsight, I’d like to revise that since we all have different ideas of what an “acceptable” t-shirt is. If you’re a man wear something with a collar. For both men and women make sure everything is ironed and clean.  (This might be obvious to most, but I’ve been doing this for a long time and have seen a lot of missteps).

3.  PORTFOLIO: a mobile tablet is best format overall. But, have a PDF prepared in a nice presentation. For more on that, see the article I wrote here.

4. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE: Again, more info on the article I wrote about presenting your portfolio, but it’s critical to practice your presentation. If you’re not known for your firm handshake, work on it. If you have trouble looking people in the eye, you definitely have to work on that. Be a good listener. There are so many opportunities to practice these things, so look at every encounter with someone as practice for your professionalism.  You can do this with your friends and family and they will love you for it.

5. BE YOUR BEST SELF:  In my Talent Zoo article I said to dress as if you’re going on a date during the day.  Now when I read that, I imagine all kinds of faux pas, so what I should have said is just be your best self.  Dress to show that you care about where you are and who you’re meeting with.  Give yourself a lot of time to get where you’re going, arrive early so you can see if there’s a lengthy check in process on the ground floor. If you are still too early, go next door to the bathroom at the coffee shop and make sure there’s no lipstick on your teeth.  Then arrive at reception to announce your arrival 5-10 minutes early or on the nose. Breathe deeply while you wait and get your head in the game. You’re there to start the process of closing the deal.

I would like to thank Mommikin for asking me to write this article because it reminded me how much i like to write and that in the digital, creative world that we live in, things change quickly. A post that i did 2 years ago will need revisions. I’m going to spend some time revisiting past posts and updating them.  If there’s a topic you’d like me to write about, please let me know!

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