Being the most recent graduate and designer at Worx, the month of May is all too familiar. The hectic schedules and daunting tasks that come with wrapping up your college degree, followed by putting the bells and whistles on your portfolio pieces, stressing over Capstone and final reviews and most importantly – prepping for the real world. For many reading this, it is graduation time or it’s time for a change, and you’re about to be out on the hunt for your new homestead. Take a second to celebrate the fact that you’ve made it this far!

Now, you’ve landed the interview. You’ve promptly agreed that you’ll be there next week at 10 am- AH! What happens next? Here are some important tips to nail the interview:

How to Pack

• Personal Stationery: You should be equipped with multiple copies of your business card and résumé. Bring five at least.
• Pen and notepad: Make sure you can be proactive in taking notes. Your reviewers will often have helpful feedback.
• Physical Portfolio and iPad or laptop: Always have a physical portfolio! I cannot stress enough the impression that is left when your interviewer can be interactive in your interview process. Flip through it with them, take out foldable pieces and let them feel the paper stock and admire the attention to details that you’ve busted your butt over. If you are showcasing a lot of web or UX design, then it is essential to bring along an iPad or laptop so that you can also present your work in context.
• Printed Questions: Asking the right questions is just as important as the interview itself because the questions you ask are confirming your qualifications as the best person for the position, and you are discovering whether or not this job is right for you, just as much as you are right for them.
• A leave behind: To make a more memorable experience, give the interviewers a leave behind so that you are kept top of mind once all the candidates have left. For example, one of my projects included a piece of apparel. I brought along a shirt to leave behind as a parting gift.

How to Prep:

• Have your work done: Several days before your interview, your portfolio should be polished, inside and out. Be sure that the files printed are up-to-date, revised and crafted nicely inside your portfolio. This should also include your self-promotional material and any foldables that you showcase, such as life-sized posters, book jackets or anything else that is tangible to your interviewer.
• Do some spring cleaning on your social media platforms: Check Twitter, LinkedIn, and your website and make sure that everything is new, relevant and descriptive.
• Spell check everything! From your business cards to the 2013 job description on LinkedIn. Be as thorough as possible.
• Research the company: There is nothing more distasteful in an interview than someone who is trying to score the job, but knows nothing about the company. Do your preliminary research. Find out about who the company is, their values, their clients, past work and any initiatives they are active in pursuing.
• Care for your body: Make sure you get plenty of sleep. Your physical health can have a direct impact on your performance. Also, be sure to eat a good breakfast and if you still have the jitters, perhaps take a light jog or walk to loosen up a bit.

How to Speak:

• Be confident, but not cocky: This is your spotlight, and they want to hear how you can help elevate their team. Relax! Who knows your work and processes better than you?
• Bring your personality: A stiff and bland character is hard to communicate with. You don’t want the interviewer to come out of the experience feeling tired or mentally worked. Make it easy for the both of you to have a fluid conversation. Let your personality tag along with you during the interview. It will also help the process to go smoother since you won’t be spending extra energy focusing on putting up some facade. Be the best version of YOURSELF.
• Be descriptive and eloquent: Take your time in answering questions and explaining your work. Make sure to provide your reviewers meaning behind the decisions you made.

How to be Remembered:

• Write a standout follow up: Congrats! you’ve made it through. Now make sure you have a secure spot in the interviewer’s mind. Craft a nice handwritten thank you card (or type if your handwriting is atrocious). This should include bits from your conversation. Something that you appreciated, a piece of advice that you’ve taken to heart and close the letter with gratitude. This should be sent within two days after the interview.
• Send a thank you email: This should be done in a similar fashion, but to ensure that they’ve received your direct mail and to thank them again. This should be if you haven’t heard back from the mail piece delivered, typically 1 1/2 to 2 weeks later.
• Follow up with a thank you call: If in 3 weeks you haven’t received any feedback, give them a call to let them know you are still interested. Sometimes companies have to go through hundreds of interviews, others, 15. Regardless, it’s important to show your desire and determination.

Roman philosopher, Seneca, said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” I think it’s important to remember that we make our own luck. Once your mind and materials are both properly prepared, be confident in the opportunities the universe will throw your way – because you’re going to kick ass!

From one recent creative nomad to another, good luck and keep hustling.