Part 3: QUESTIONS every interior design student should ask WHEN LOOKING FOR YOUR FIRST JOB

There are so many questions interior design students and recent graduates have. Well I’ve found a wonderful source that taps into a wealth of knowledge that I am so excited to share it with you.

The Interior Design Community (IDC) is a social media network just for interior design professionals. Their mission “is to connect designers and give them a space to get advice from their peers, to find information about products, to support them through the difficult situations they face day to day”.

This series of articles highlights some of the best questions and answers for design students and those just graduating.  Part 1 is geared towards student internships and mentoring, Part 2 answers questions for recent graduates looking for employment in a design office and Part 3 addresses what it’s like for up and coming designers in the industry.

The question is:

I just finished school last semester and have been looking for a job as a designer. I have been on some interviews but I have not gotten hired yet. I’m not sure what I am doing wrong. Can you ask what designers look for when they add someone new to their team?”

I just finished school last semester and have been looking for a job as a designer. I have been on some interviews but I have not gotten hired yet. I’m not sure what I am doing wrong. Can you ask what designers look for when they add someone new to their team?”

Meredithheron: I always look to hire my weaknesses. I’m not interested in hiring someone who wants to be me – I don’t need that competition. I know my strengths but I also know what I find tedious and dull and look to hire people who possess those as strengths so we can come together as a powerhouse.

Ricallison: That they own it like their own. And can embellish rather than squash. Large egos have no place. Nor does entitlement.

Simplesquaredesign: I feel it’s just as important to know why one gets a job and why one does not. It is a hard truth, but may help one realize what to do better or skills to improve upon. Another aspect I’ll like to share with current design students is to intern before graduating. Don’t wait until you finish school to find a job. Have your school help with job hunting/placement. Sometimes the school may learn from your interviewer what went “wrong” and should share that information with you. Good luck and stay strong. The right job will always come along.

Hudsonhome: I need partners who don’t mind MANAGING ME and taking the work off my plate that I don’t find inspiring. It’s also important to have impeccable language skills (no sloppy emails to clients allowed!). My job is to run the business, manage clients, cultivate new business, and keep design plans in sharp focus.

Thelovecrime: Real passion for work, technical skill, ability to take the hard days with the good ones. No ego. No embellishing one’s experience and abilities. Easy going, and someone who wants to work with other to achieve a goal. Biggest short coming in recent graduates that I have had, they don’t realize how tedious the work is, they want to do concept but not day to day, can’t take constructive criticism, and don’t respect how much responsibility we have for often the largest purchase a person will make in their life. You have to have respect for your role and your clients. And you have to love hours and hours and hours of computer time. 😉

Thelovecrime: oh and patience. Great careers are not built in a month or even 12. Social media really feeds the story that you need to be an overnight success, and I know literally no one in design who was. It’s hard work, it can be demoralizing, frustrating, stressful. But if the end result is worth it to you, then it’s a good career choice. The burnout rate is high in design. Clients often don’t realize how hard they are being when they change their minds a million times etc. and contractors, some can be very difficult and not willing to go the distance with design details.

Kbdesignseattle: For someone fresh out of school, you need to be ready to learn. Ready to soak up the experience that schools do not give. Design skills are somewhat less important than the ability to keep positive attitude and pick up odd tasks from the shoulders of others. Before everyone believe that you can design you need to make them believe that they can work with you. And I do not mean brining coffee to superior, I mean we all do non designing work. Do not be offended when part of it comes your way. As you cannot yet generate new business, or guide client to a direction….

ambience_inspired_interiors: I had an assistant that didn’t end up possessing the confidence to bring her ideas, be creative, be original, and collaborate with me. She was always looking to me for direction. It was fine at first, since she was new and wanted to please, but be ready to find your wings and be mentored, work hard (no “poor me” people!!! You have to WORK at this!) and be passionate – it will show! People who aren’t self-starters probably won’t last long!

rizwan_architect: The first 6 to 10 months it’s the boss that invests in the newcomer because all they have is a degree but no experience of the REAL WORLD. They have to be humble, hardworking, creative and organized and first of all be very sure which design firm they want to work with and agree with their design philosophies

jccrossdesign: I haven’t reached the point of hiring on yet, but when I do I will be looking for these attributes: confidence, not the false kind but honest, sincere confidence that allows them to push through complicated tasks and ask questions when they need to. Attitude is important because having a positive attitude allows them to get through the tough times without overly dramatizing them or undermining its importance. And lastly I think integrity is key, I live by the integrity of who I am and how I act both personally and at work, so I need to be surrounded by others who place importance on their integrity as well. It’s the fiber we are woven from and helps us to decipher how to make good decisions, from how to make poor decisions. I need that on my team.

Judithharrop: A busy design office is wary of being distracted from projects by the needs of new staff. At interview let them know how much you know, that you can hit the ground running, initiative is so important, even if it means you tidying up and making tea. We all muck in and do it but when under pressure having a new team member around who can just get on is brilliant. Again at interview don’t bang on about how much this practice can help you, how much you want to learn from it, these points are valid and show your eagerness to learn but the bottom line is how much can you bring to the practice, how can you make everyone’s life easier. The lesser drain on other’s time initially will mean you become part of the team quickly. Then you can begin your own development as you have the team’s trust. Its business!

Reginasturrock: Whether the applicant is a seasoned designer or fresh out of school, they must have passion! I can recognize it instantly! Do they light up when they talk about their work? It’s an attribute that drives greatness and that gets you through the difficult times. We all know that this is a high-pressure job! And it’s not just about the polished portfolio or great CAD skills. I look for an innate understanding of balance, scale, proportion, harmony…those things that bring beauty into design. It’s surprising to me how many are lacking the fundamentals. I believe today’s tools, as useful as they are, are also a creative crutch. Whatever happened to hand-sketching and good architectural penmanship? My interview process is a two-tiered one; the initial interview that touches base on qualifications, personality, and aspirations and the second interview that hones into what the designer is made of. I prepare an in-studio design assessment that is, in and of itself, relatively basic, but that gives me a clear picture of where the strengths and weaknesses are. It’s amazing how much I can learn. I take the hiring process very seriously. It’s a big commitment to bring in a new team member.

paradigm_texas: I cannot stress the importance of excellent communication skills. To be able to clearly communicate ideas and questions so that you are efficient and effective. People skills are equally important. If you are timid or insecure, this is not the industry for you. Passion and aesthetic sensibility should be a given and physical drawing skills are so appreciated. If you have to drag out your computer and start clicking your way through images time can sometimes be wasted, but if you can pull out a pen and pad and begin to explain the process as you draw in front of your client, you will be amazed at how they light up! Organization! You must also have personality and be able to handle criticism.

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