Architecture Job Interview is a two part series that looks at how to prepare for your interview, tips and techniques to use during your interview, right through to following up for feedback.
This part of the series looks at the preparation before the interview. So, great news you just had a call confirming you have secured an interview with a great architects practice! The bad news….. so have another 5, 10, 15 candidates! How are you going to stand out from the rest?
How to prepare
Preparation is key. Every heard that before? Probably. That’s because it’s true. And preparation for an interview is no exception. If you have been fortunate enough to gain an interview at your dream architects practice, you don’t want to through it all away at the interview stage. Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to prepare for the interview to give you a head start beyond the other candidates and win you that job.
So, lets take a look at some of the things you need to consider ahead of your interview.
These days there is no excuse to have little to no knowledge about the practice or firm you are going to be interviewed by. No excuse!
Firstly, check out the company website and get familiar with the kind of practice they are, the projects they undertake, work ethics and so on. Perhaps pick out a couple of key projects that you could bring up in the interview if the occasion arises. Make notes.
Then, get onto social media. Check out the company’s Facebook page, do they have a twitter feed? Find out who the key team members are, along with the people who will be interviewing you and perhaps check them out on LinkedIn. Don’t be too much of a stalker, but find some useful bits of information. For example, imagine the company recently participated in a charity bike ride and you happen to find out your interviewer took part – great to drop into the conversation if an appropriate moment occurs. The interviewer will be impressed with your interest and enthusiasm.
I have found at numerous interviews, one of the first questions I am asked is:
“What do you know about us?” or something similar.
Although I would have always done my research and found out quite a bit about them, personally I don’t like to reel off the company details and profile back to them. I often say something along the lines of:
“I have done a lot of research on the company and have been very impressed, I’d like to hear more about “practice name” from you though”
This usually works well as they can then tell you about the practice in their own words, and also go into more detail about why they are hiring. You could then chip in now and again with “yes I read about that project” or similar.
What do you need to take?
Make sure you have got everything you need. Check through your portfolio and make sure all the information is relevant to the job role. Maybe take some time to go through the job description and pick out specific parts of your portfolio that you want to mention in the interview that relate to what the company is looking for.
Gather together any written references you may have and make copies that you can leave with the interviewer. This is always a nice touch as they don’t always expect it, unless of course they asked in advance.
It is also a good idea to print a copy of your CV just in case they don’t have it to hand.
Find out where you are going
Make sure you know exactly where you are going for the interview and how long it will take you to get there. Plan how much time you need, and if required get there early and have a coffee somewhere before going to their offices. Better to be early and stress free, than late and starting off with a bad first impression.
Practice your answers
Obviously you are going to be asked some questions during the interview. Make sure you are prepared by rehearsing your answers. You will need to be able to tell the interviewer about yourself, and also be able to talk through your portfolio. Make sure you can highlight your skills and qualifications as you tell them about yourself, but try to keep it natural. You don’t want to sound like you are reciting from a script.
It is also worth practicing discussing your portfolio. Tell the interviewer about your projects, what you learnt from them, problems and how you created the solution. It can take time to be comfortable talking through your portfolio, and in the past I have actually taken with me a few notes, so I don’t miss anything important. I wouldn’t be afraid of doing this, once again it shows that you are prepared and are taking it seriously.
In Part Two of this series we will look at the questions you may get asked, and how to prepare for them, along with other tips and techniques for the day of the interview.
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