For many artists, finding a job that pertains to their art seems like a pipedream. This is due to a common misconception that no professional room exists for artists in society.
But artistic jobs exist. And whether it’s a temporary or long-time gig, you need to be prepared should the opportunity arise. You never know what’s around the corner, awaiting your perspective!
And there’s no better way to prepare for an artistic employment opportunity than by preparing for an interview. Though it may not seem pertinent now, it will be someday, and sooner than you may think.
However, it’s not enough to be a good artist; you must be able to sell your work in another sense. The interviewing process could take you and your art to the next level.
What’s more, there are several ways to get in the right mindset. Here are five tips to help any interviewing artist steal the show.
Study the employer and the artistic job you want
You should go into any interview – especially one of artistic merit – with a coherent strategy. Do your research on the position and employer by searching the internet for relevant information prior to interviewing. By studying for the job, you can be sure to drop some knowledge and impress your interviewer.
In this age, your employer will likely have a social media presence. Find and check out their “pages” to discover what they are creating or saying on a day to day basis.
You’d be surprised at how their posts can guide your interview mindset. Of course, interviewers can study too – so make sure your social media is somewhat professional.
Additionally, see if they have interviews, in article or video form, available on the internet. It could tell you what qualities they expect from the people they work with.
It could also give you a chance to determine what a good or bad interviewee looks like. Then, you’ll know what to do or avoid in your interview based on their experience.
If you present yourself as a studious applicant, your interviewer will be more likely to take you seriously. Apply what you’ve learned during the interview. It will demonstrate genuine interest which is both instantly recognizable and immensely effective.
Plus, it makes the interviewing conversation smoother – and more fun – for both of you. Just be careful not to study so well only to offend them by blurting “I like your earlier work!”
Customize your art portfolio for the situation
Artists take pride in assembling their portfolios – and for good reason: it showcases their various unique talents. However, when preparing for an interview, an artist must adapt their portfolio to show focus.
A one-size-fits-all portfolio is unfocused and often irrelevant. Presenting one will do you a disservice by making you seem unprepared or unenthusiastic for the position. Here’s what you can do.
If your portfolio has several styles represented, it may show some versatility – but it’s more likely to seem unfocused. For example, an artist’s video game design portfolio is likely to fall short when applying for a live-action movie.
Because even if their portfolio may have a slice of what the job is looking for, it’s not convincing enough. It will feel too risky to invest in an applicant who only seems marginally relevant or prepared for the job.
Condense your portfolio to showcase your best and most relevant works. Ask yourself what the job is looking for and do your best to adapt accordingly without sacrificing your style. Not every piece will belong on a single portfolio, and that’s okay.
But by tailoring your portfolio, you will appear, and likely be a perfect fit. It will show your passion for the job – and it is likely to ignite a similar passion within them.
Your interviewer should view your portfolio knowing it was uniquely arranged to snag the job you are interviewing for. In short, your portfolio should make them feel special.
Make the stranger cradling your portfolio feel like your interview was meant to be. Do the work ahead of time to quell any doubt in their mind, or yours, about your ability.
Be confident about your artistic abilities, but not cocky
First impressions stick and attitude is everything. Your interviewer wants to know your personality is the right fit for the job.
Thus, it is important to be confident – not cocky. Work towards embodying quiet confidence in your personal and professional life to present yourself and your art effectively.
Balance is key. Don’t be arrogant, but don’t seem like you have no confidence, either. Being desperate and unconfident will make you seem wildly unprofessional and vastly unprepared for any semblance of work.
Of course, being cocky is sure to alienate professional allies and distract from any genuine talents you may possess. Keep the focus on your work, not your ego!
If you’re stressing about what this looks like, ask yourself what qualities you would want to see in your peers. Remember that the interviewer is keenly aware they will have to spend time with the person they choose to hire.
Put simply, you don’t want to give the interviewer the impression that you are insufferable or insincere. By being kind and genuine, you’ll demonstrate you’re nice to be around in addition to being a promising employee.
At the end of the day, ego just gets in the way of art and work because it clouds judgment. Generally, those who stand the test of time in the art world are somewhat easy to work with.
And this is true for any profession, not just art. The best of the best tend to be humble because humility is key to success. Likely your heroes accept their limitations with dignity, respect predecessors, and appreciate their supporters.
Humility’s importance cannot be overstated and should inspire the aspiring artist to grow. In short, don’t talk about it; be about it – through quiet confidence.
Prepare your own questions for the art interview
Asking questions as an interviewee is one of the most rewarding and memorable parts of an interview. The time will inevitably come when the interviewer will pass the baton, and what happens next will be critical.
Your interviewer will remember or forget this phase of the interview, for better or for worse. Here’s why you should be prepared to have some questions of your own.
Let’s say they’ve finished pitching the position and they now want to know your thoughts. Interviewers discern the degree to which an interviewee is interested by the number, range, and quality of questions they ask. In other words, good questions show you care.
Having no questions for an interviewer is one of the biggest mistakes you could make when interviewing. They’ll assume you’re indifferent about the interview, so why shouldn’t they be?
Prepare some questions ahead of time and consider taking notes during the interview. Think deeply and ask about anything that sticks out to you.
Was there anything they said that stood out to you? Moreover, address any concerns you have to prevent potential problems later – they’ll respect your ability to think ahead.
It is also worth mentioning your questions should be thoughtful and perceptive. You are unlikely to impress anyone by asking general or otherwise impertinent questions.
Even if you are caught off guard, do your best to adapt to the moment with focused questions. Doing so will show critical thinking skills, invaluable in the heat of any on-the-job chaos. You can reinforce that you’re going to put in the hard work because you took the time to ask the questions.
Practice seeing things from the art interviewer’s point of view
If you’re worried about making a lackluster impression during your interview, try thinking from their perspective. It won’t just make you feel more prepared; it will also help you make the impression you want to make.
The ability to be empathic is a highly important and portable skill. Empathy can improve one’s ability to interview successfully because it connects people at the most human level. And interviews are all about connecting, and interviewers are only human.
Consider if your interviewer would dislike a certain attitude, opinion, or question and react accordingly. By tapping into the emotions of the person interviewing you, you can gain a better understanding and lead with intention.
But this means that your interviewer may be able to read your emotions as well. Remember: how you say things matters. What would happen if they asked “do you like your job?” and you said “of course!” instead of “I guess.”?
Think critically about how you speak because your delivery will affect how the interviewer will perceive your words. And if you feel nervous, consider asking a friend for help, or try recording yourself to see if there’s anything you can do to improve.
Crushing your art job interview
Being able to interview well is hard, and most artists aren’t given any specific advice regarding jobs for their craft. But it nonetheless could lead to the next big thing for you and your work.
Follow these five tips to bring the best version of yourself to the interview. You deserve to do an awesome job and elevate your art.