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Communications Design Industry Discussion, Inspiration, & Tutorials

Feb 15, 2016

(surprise) Interview Question: What kind of Animal are you?

By On 11:01
I helped out a new job seeker with a mock interview last month, over salads and wine. This young woman is in search of a junior designer position within an educational institution--a regional behemoth. But I digress…

She did a bit of practicing before we met up and I asked her a few basic questions over bread and olive oil. In addition to the  usual suspects I decided to throw in one of those curveball questions, just to break her out of the practiced answers that she was giving. I asked:

"If you were an Animal, What Would you be?"

That actually stopped my young friend in her tracks, she looked up to the right, thinking. After a long while, she said "I don't know." The curveball completely knocked all reasonable thought out of her head. This is a tactic employed by some interviewers. It's not actually meant to leave you stuttering, but rather it's meant to see how you think critically and might see yourself in the hierarchy of the organization.

I had to tell my friend not to freak out. Instead of pursuing the question OR giving her time to pick one of the millions of species of animals that she has to choose, I asked her the following questions…speaking not as a mock interviewer, but her friend who just bought her dinner:

  • Seriously, what do you know about the company and this job that you've applied for?
  • From what you know, can you seriously see yourself working there and making a difference to their mission? 
  • What are your traits that make it possible?

From her answers to those above, I used her words to formulate this follow up...
  • Okay, so in a setting like Organization X, that calls for hard work, and dedication to strong communities, positive growth, and increased academic achievement for youth, are your traits an appropriate fit?

How do you Answer that Question

I answered for her, "so, you would be a pit bull, or a Thai Fighting Fish, or a Rooster, or a Rabbit, or a Gecko". Pick one, or pick a completely different animal if you want. I had to explain that the actual answer is about the traits and habits that she brings to the table. She needs to pick the traits and morph these into an animal. Whatever animal.

We spent the next few minutes playing a game where I'd throw out random positive traits and she'd pick an animal and explain them in  a few words (like dolphins have great communication and organizational skills…). This was a bit of fun, but you get the idea.

In a nutshell, my friend had already thought about and outlined her strengths and what positive attributes she brought to the job. She simply needed to revisit those in order not to be blindsided by this surprise question. 

One last thing, this question may never be asked in a job interview, so don't stress yourself about coming up with the ideal animal that will play well with others in a professional setting.

More Interview Questions:

    Feb 1, 2016

    New Year, New You

    By On 11:43


    Well, Me Actually...

    I believe in starting each new year with a refreshed professional perspective:

    1. For those of us working, this is easily accomplished by refreshing updating the resume.
    2. For others, in the midst of a job search, it looks more like updating the resume, cover letter, website, and online presence. 

    I’m currently heavily engrossed in option one.

    Many of you have seen my 2-column resume layout. This design made it possible for me to stick to a single-page resume in the past. And it’s been the basis of several of the resume redesigns that I’ve undertaken on behalf of other job seekers this year.

    This year, I’m going back to basics. One-Column! This means I run the risk of spanning two (or more) pages. With this in mind I fearlessly embark on a new look for 2016! A quick note on my design process:

    •  Rewrite: update text phrases, and accomplishments 
    • Brainstorm: choose font combinations, sketch potential layouts, research what other folks are doing (you bet!) 
    • Mock-up / Comps: these are practically done, and are sent to a few discerning editor/designers for notes before I finalize anything. 

    So far, two layouts—of the original seven have made it to the Comprehensive phase.

    Note: Peers and students always ask about my more corporate/less creative field layouts of my resumes, and the answer is simple (and a two-parter). I rarely pursue positions directly in agencies or art departments, but instead in nonprofit arenas. There’s a gravitas of design that’s expected to get in there. Second, starting with a more universal, sedate layout can be pushed toward a more creative style easier than the other way-round.

    Here are a couple other examples of 2-pagers that are relevant and well-designed
    (Click on the image to view full-size):


    Holding Steady: Graphic Design Salaries

    By On 09:55
    In past years I've found this information on Monster, CareerBuilder, US Government jobs survey and a few other sources. This time around I decided to check out a  website, service that caters specifically to creative designers in our industry, Coroflot. This site is another of the free portfolio sites that I've referenced and still promote to students. Needless to say Coroflot is making a comeback in a big way…their participant surveys are one strong indication.

     As always, this is an independent source which has solicited responses from a few thousand creative professionals that specifically use their service. They capture nationwide data unevenly, so the results may be different in specific geographic locations.

     Findings for Graphic Designers:

    The precipitous drop in creative professionals' salaries--from the global recession--seems to be stabilizing. There's no great decrease or increase over last year. According to Coroflot, median salary is in upper-mid 40s. Get the details...

    We'll remember just two short years ago, 2014, the national average salary for designers rose a full 8%—from 2012. This was reported in HOW Magazine and sticks roughly to the Indeed Salary Data I shared last year.

    What's Different?

     In checking with the Indeed Salary Data for this year--keep in mind that this company does not survey anyone--instead it compiles and analyzes salaries from all vacancy postings listed on it's job search engine. According to this job search site, median creative professional salaries are indeed up a bit over last year, to the tune of approximately $2,000

    Be sure to note their further analysis, average salaries are lower most.