Bonnie Siegler | Dear Bonnie

Interviewing in Indianapolis

Dear Bonnie,

I went to an interview the other day and the person I met with seemed dumbfounded that I hadn’t brought my portfolio or a laptop or something as a way to view my work. However, I had sent them a link to my portfolio when I applied for the job, and someone from the office responded that the creative director, “would love to learn more about me and my work.” I took that to mean that they had reviewed my portfolio.

Isn’t it safe to assume someone is familiar with your work prior to an interview? Otherwise, why would they want to meet?

Interviewing in Indianapolis

Dear I.,

Thank you, thank you, thank you for asking me this. You have given me an opportunity to address a true pet peeve of mine.
This is how it usually goes down:  We, by which I mean people in a hiring position, hear from lots and lots of job applicants. Often, we quickly look at a portfolio online just to determine whether we want to learn more about you. If we do, we’ll usually schedule a meeting for a couple of weeks in the future.

In the meantime, we have received countless more online portfolios. We have been art directing our staff and looking at illustrators' and photographers’ work and reviewing a million other designs. In short, we would be very hard pressed to recall your work in any worthwhile detail, and most likely, in any detail at all.

Then, the appointed day arrives and we will meet you in a conference room and ask to look at your work. But, alas, you have not brought your work and seem a bit upset that we do not remember the work you shared online. You get even more frustrated when you realize you have wasted your time and ours.  It’s hard for us to understand how you would not bring your work. We have taken time from our schedules and it strikes us as uncaring and maybe even arrogant on your part to assume we remember everything about you. Not the best way to begin a relationship. It would be better to bring too much than nothing and an attitude. You want the job, right?

If you bring actual physical work samples (the best) or a laptop or iPad to look at your work online (totally fine), then we get to hear how you talk about your work and we have a chance to understand your relationship with your work. We can ask you specific questions about decisions that you made. You can point out details that we may never have noticed on our own, but that offer a window into the magical inner workings of your mind. And then, after that, now that we’re interested, we can hang out some and talk about where you’re from and your influences and we can get to know each other a bit.

You will have lost an opportunity to see how your work plays to professionals. Even if you don’t get the job, you would have had the gift of practicing sharing your work, and it would have given you insights into how others respond to what you say and do. You also learn a lot about how to present yourself in the brief but intense spotlight of the interview. It could have been wonderful. But, without work to talk about and refer to and spark conversation, it will more likely be uncomfortable and decidedly un-wonderful.

Please save us all a bit of unnecessary anxiety and bring your fershlugginah work to interviews.

We want to hear from you! Send your questions for Bonnie to [email protected]   

Jobs | February 23