As hiring continues to pick up among Canadian creative agencies and in-house departments, the job market holds opportunities for designers looking to move into an art director position.
With that role, additional responsibilities beyond design could include establishing strategic direction, setting schedules, even managing less experienced creatives. You would also get to work directly with the client, influence how their marketing plans are executed, provide design direction for your team and interact with top decision-makers.
Although art directors face many challenges, they also reap the rewards as the leader of the creative team. So what can you do to prepare for this demanding position? Here are five job interview tips for those seeking an art director position:
1. Whip that portfolio into shape
Update your digital portfolio, whether you have a personal website or a Behance account. If a hiring manager is considering inviting you in for an interview, he or she can review it to get a better sense of your skills. You'll also want to present your work during the actual job interview as well, either digitally on a mobile device or as printed pieces.
2. Know who you're talking to
It sounds like one of those obvious job interview tips, but you'd be surprised how often a candidate walks into an interview without doing any research. As soon as you schedule an interview, gather as much information on the company or agency as you can. Are they growing? Have they just landed a big account or launched a new product? Have they been featured as a "hot company to work for" in your area? Who are the people you'll be meeting with? Even if you have nothing more than the job titles of your interviewers, anticipate the types of people you'll be meeting and the questions they'll likely ask you.
3. Highlight your strategic skills
Here's one of the most important job interview tips: If you're looking to step up to an art director role, or you're seeking a position with expanded responsibilities, you need to shine a light on your business acumen. These skills will be as important as your design chops, if not more so, to a potential employer. Be prepared to discuss the rationale behind your design choices. How did your creative approach solve a business problem? What are the results, and how did they affect your company or client?
4. Demonstrate your team leadership
Even if you're not currently in a managerial position, there are still ways to show your leadership at work. Talk about how you took the reins of a project that was floundering, coached a colleague on a new program or interacted with people outside your immediate team to get the job done. Basically, point to situations where you took the initiative to get involved.
5. Circle back
No list of job interview tips is complete without talking about what to do after meeting with the hiring manager. You can't forget to follow up on your job interview. Thank your contact within two business days of your meeting. A phone call or an email is fairly standard practice and completely acceptable, but a note via snail mail might catch them off guard (in a good way), making you more memorable than the dozens of other candidates. Be sure to connect with everyone you spoke with to express your genuine enthusiasm about the opportunity.