Category: Uncategorized

How to ace a job interview with a creative agency

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

Learning to be vulnerable is not as scary as you might think

Being vulnerable has been difficult for me ever since I moved to Singapore. Even as I pen this post, I still feel uneasy sharing such personal thoughts that even my closest friends and family members know little about.

I first came to Singapore in 2007 after graduation and worked a junior role in the design industry. Like most Malaysians, English isn’t my first language, which was a communication barrier for me at the time. Because of that, I worried about being perceived as not as smooth, smart, expressive or even competent as my peers at work.

Eventually, I realised I had developed a profound fear of expressing myself or opening up to people including friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Back then, I also had little work-life balance. Even though work had been financially rewarding, I found little job satisfaction and had no one to turn to when I felt stressed or faced problems.

These feelings of insecurity and helplessness slowly led to burnout. I was not aware of the impact this had on me until recently. When Tuber started to have small talk sessions during our weekly check-ins, I initially struggled to open up about myself as I feared showing my weaknesses, especially in a professional setting.

But each of us slowly began to ease up during casual conversations. I finally realised that while it might not come naturally to me, opening up is more about my willingness to share rather than the fear of being judged. I started to let go of the shame and think positively, focusing on my desire to connect better with the rest of the team. I believe that doing this will eventually help me to identify, process and understand myself from a different perspective.

Here are three key things that help me open up the lines:

1. Embrace vulnerability as a strength

Being vulnerable isn’t a bad thing. It’s not easy – we need a mindset shift to believe that the pros of putting ourselves out there outweigh the cons. By embracing vulnerability as a strength, we are able to show our authentic selves and have the courage to feel inadequate sometimes. Authenticity allows us to connect and be honest with people, especially our team members, which in turn builds trust, strengthens work relationships and lets us leverage our capabilities and skills for the benefit of the team.

2. Be brave and talk it out

Having a safe place to talk about our feelings, opinions and ideas can motivate us to share more about ourselves. As we realise that other people share our struggles or can empathise with us, we feel more comfortable opening up. It also helps us reflect on our actions, develop better self-awareness, acknowledge that there’s room for improvement and take responsibility for the choices we make or the things we say.

3. Be a good listener

Apart from being able to open up confidently, it’s also important to be an active listener who encourages other people to speak up. This is especially important at work, where we’re so used to proving our capabilities and focused on doing or saying the right thing. Being a focused and engaged listener can motivate and encourage our colleagues to step outside their comfort zone and share their own thoughts and concerns.

So learn to be vulnerable with the right mindset, and with the people you care about (including your colleagues!). Start small by sharing a recent experience and how it impacted you. It could be a decision that leaves you beaming!

Illustration by: Xinyi

Newcomers in the working world: advice from one young creative to another

Living in a pandemic may feel volatile, especially if you are a soon-to-be graduate or full-time student. It can be overwhelming and anxiety-inducing to think about what the future holds, but I find that focusing on what I can do at the current moment, one step at a time, helps me to stay grounded.

Here is some advice I’ve gleaned from my experiences and applied in my journey starting out in the creative industry:

1. Learn something every day, not someday

Every expert starts off as a novice. Even experts are still learning new things when they encounter new scenarios. Don’t let your feelings of inadequacy or procrastination hinder you from embarking on a new hobby or project. Come with a willingness and openness to learn anything, because growth happens out of your comfort zone. You might be surprised to discover that your new hobby can help you land new connections or a job!

The process of learning involves making mistakes, but we have to learn from them to become better. Mistakes can be beautiful and make learning memorable.

2. Unfriend procrastination

Procrastination is not always a friend. Putting things off brings future dissatisfaction and has no real payoff. I’m sure we’re all guilty of going down the YouTube rabbit hole of endless videos to only come to our senses a few hours later. We then panic over the time lost as we suddenly realise we should have made a head start on the projects with an impending deadline. We need to invest in our time and make sure it gives us returns rather than regret.

At the end of the day, when we lack the motivation to do things – we’ve just got to start doing them anyway.

3. Don’t take things too personally

Sometimes, your hopes get crushed when the client tells you that the work you sent does not meet their expectations. We creatives tend to view our work as an extension of ourselves, and it can be demoralising to perceive ourselves as failures because our work was not well-received.

Take a step back and inhale deeply.

Once you feel calmer, take another look at the client’s feedback objectively rather than subjectively. What was the issue that the client brought up? Could you have asked more questions to better understand what they wanted? Once you have clearly understood what needs to be changed, you can jump back in and make the necessary amendments.

4. Throw perfectionism out of the window

Creativity knows no bounds, but perfectionism holds a tight leash on where we can go as creatives. Sometimes inspiration strikes and we simply need to act on it rather than ponder about whether the idea will really work. Experimentation and exploration are the antidote to perfectionism, which cripples the creative process.

5. Be cross-disciplinary

The creative field is interlinked with many other fields. In order to flourish, we need to branch out to other fields and understand how they work. In our lifetime, we will be exposed to many opportunities and will be able to put on multiple hats.

With knowledge in design skills, for example, we can be better digital marketers as well as food artists. The possibilities are pretty much endless, as we can draw from knowledge in different fields. Be open and spend time with people outside the creative industry, because you never know what new perspective and inspiration they can bring into your creative life.

Conclusion

As a young working adult, I have continually heard this phrase: “You have all your life to work”. You may feel like your future is uncertain–but keep being curious, trying different roles and searching till you find something that fits you well. Wisely invest your youth and energy in places that will bring benefits for the future you.

Illustration by: Lei

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