How to approach a job interview with a design studio, with thoughts from Fiasco Design’s Ben Steers
Following up on our previous insights piece – how to apply for a role at a design studio – we’ve linked up once again with Ben Steers, Co-founder & Creative Director at Fiasco Design to unpack the (hopefully!) final stage of the job-seeking process – the interview.
If your application has ticked all the boxes and you’ve piqued the hiring studio’s interest, congrats! It’s interview time. At this stage, whether that be via Zoom or in person, nobody wants you to be nervous. Ultimately, we’re all human with a shared love for design. A good workplace will acknowledge this, and be eager to learn more about you. “Our typical interview process is quite informal,” Steers explains, “my job is to welcome people in and try to make them feel comfortable.” After breaking the ice, Fiasco’s meetings tend to follow three basic steps, which likely apply to most creative interviews.
First, they kick off with initial introductions followed by a chat about the individual’s background and interests. “I want to know a bit more about the person; what they do outside of work, what they enjoy, what they are most passionate about.”
This is followed by a brief ‘show and tell’ of a small cross-section of their work. Here, “as well as the final outcome,” Steers notes, “I’d be looking to understand the research, strategy and decision-making along the way.
As the interview wraps up, the candidate gets a chance to ask questions and learn a bit more about the role or workplace. From a studio’s perspective, the Creative Director adds, “the questions you’re asked can be more revealing than the answers you’re given.”
You don’t have to have a university degree to be a good designer.
From a wider perspective, how does personality weigh up against skillset? It’s not uncommon for candidates to enter interviews with a bit of imposter syndrome. After all, we’re often overwhelmed with the polished and perfectly rendered final outcomes from our favourite studios every day. We hope to reassure you, there’s no need to fret if your Illustrator skills aren’t quite as refined as a team of designers with 15+ years of experience. “Skills are things that can be learned given the time and resources,” Steers suggests, “we’re not necessarily looking for an individual with a perfect skillset, and I’m always curious to hear more from people who took a different path into the industry.” He also highlights a common misconception among creatives: “You don’t have to have a university degree to be a good designer.”
In any sized studio, successful day-to-day running hinges on good collaboration and clear communication at every stage – whether that be with clients or colleagues. Therefore, the interview gives employers the chance to understand what dynamic you, as an individual, could bring to the existing team. In the case of Fiasco, Steers explains, “we’re a relatively small and close-knit team, so it’s critical that we find the right person; not just for the role we’re trying to fill, but who will contribute to the energy of the team and the studio environment.”
Many studios do their best to avoid creating a homogeneous space. After all, a diverse workplace is more likely to be better equipped at understanding a client’s audience. “As a group, we come from a diverse range of backgrounds but we find common ground in the things we value. So finding someone with the right enthusiasm, mindset and values is just as important, if not more so than their skillset.”