Job interviews are a lot like first dates. You’re focused on trying to sell yourself. You want to know if you’re a good match for the other person. You probably stalked– er, looked them up on social media before meeting them.

And just like dates, job interviews are all about making good impressions. In the creative field, this is especially important since many roles are client-facing. To achieve this, it’s best to come prepared.

Follow our tips to get started:

1. Do your research

The interviewers will be able to tell if your knowledge of the company is limited to what is in the job ad. It’s a must to familiarise yourself with the agency’s portfolio before the interview.

Make sure you know which industries the agency caters to and the different services provided. If the interview takes place over a video call, take this chance to have the company’s website and social media pages open for easy reference.

Another good practice is to take note of any projects that stand out to you. It could be a project that impressed you or one that you’d have liked to work on. Mention these projects to show how your creative interests align with that of the agency.

2. Polish your portfolio

If you’re a creative, the first impression of you will be formed long before the interview – when the hirers go through your portfolio. So it’s important to curate a portfolio that shows the full extent of your abilities.

In the age of online applications, it makes sense to have a digital portfolio. Ensure that the link to your portfolio is clearly visible on your resume. If you’re emailing the agency, provide the link again in your email – it might seem a bit kiasu, but the point is to make it easy for interviewers to get to know you.

For breadth, aim to show that you are capable of working across different genres, styles and platforms. This is a good asset to have because of the wide variety of projects you’ll work on in the creative industry.

3. Draft interview answers

Not all of us are naturally blessed at giving good interview answers under pressure. But we can always prepare our replies beforehand.

Expect interview questions to be related to the skills needed for the job and your interest in the role and company. Some interviewers may even ask you theoretical questions about difficult work situations. Your answers will inform them about your work ethic and how well you respond under pressure.

4. Be presentable

For virtual interviews, looking presentable doesn’t mean just wearing a formal shirt over your shorts and brushing your hair.

It’s also important that you are clearly seen and heard. Check that you have a good Internet connection and working speakers or earphones. Find a spot with good lighting that flatters you. Sit about 30cm away from the camera, so that your shoulders are visible in the frame.

5. Come with questions

For virtual interviews, looking presentable doesn’t mean just wearing a formal shirt over your shorts and brushing your hair.

Many job seekers tend to underestimate the importance of asking questions to the interviewers.

This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your sense of curiosity and initiative, and find out more about the job and whether the company and role are suited for you.

Some good questions to ask include:

• What the working environment or a typical day on the job is like
• How success in your role will be measured
• What challenges you can expect to face

Job interviews can be nerve-wracking, but preparing well for them will create better chances of securing your dream job, or at least making a good impression on the interviewers. Take a deep breath and go for it. Good luck!

Illustration by: Lei