What kinds of information should I collect
prior to the meeting?
It's important to know as much as you can about the
company and the industry you will be working in. Find
out who the clients are, how big a company they are,
and what kind of work you'll be expected to make (is
this a corporate gig with lots of "logo police"
involved, or will you be working in a more liberal
atmosphere where you will need to generate a lot of
different-looking work all the time).
If you are interviewsing with a headhunter, find out
what types of clients he represents and make sure
your presented work reflects that focus. Most agencies
are looking for individuals with specialized skills,
so make sure you and your portfolio shows this.
The more that you are aware of the kind of design
team a company has in place, the better you will be
able to define what your role can be. A good starting
place is a company Web site. Find out what makes the
company tick and how you can fit in. Conveying this
information during the meeting process is key. Paint
them a picture of how you'd work at their company
and they will have an easier time making that association
What should I bring to the meeting?
Make sure you have your portfolio or "book"
together. This is your virtual passport to gaining
employment in the design world. It's important to
have an online portfolio as well as you can email
this to the client ahead of time. Be prepared to walk
the interviewser through your portfolio and be able
to answer any questions that might come up. Be able
to explain your role in each project you worked on,
the size of the team involved if you worked with others,
and the effectiveness of the project meeting the client's
goals. If you are interviewsing for a full-time position
or with an agency you should also bring two copies
of your resume.
Be honest about deadlines and skills.
If you are interviewsing for a freelance gig rather
than a salary position it is important that you give
an accurate assessment of the amount of time it will
take you to complete the project. It is better to
err on the side of needing too much time than not
enough. Underestimating the size of the project can
offset the projection completion date and end up making
you and the client look bad, as well as costing the
client money, as well as future employment opportunities
for yourself. Be aware of your own abilities and don't
oversell yourself on skills you do not possess. Don't
be afraid to stretch your talents, just know your
limits. Very often a client will be interested in
you for your expertise as well as your ability to
bring the right team of freelancers to a project so
don't be afraid to "share the wealth" and
suggest other colleagues whose skills will help offset
What if I'm not sure how to do what it is they
want me to do?
When you are meeting with a prospective client or
employer make sure you are prepared to answer their
questions. You will need to convince them that you
have a strong assessment of the project and that you
are capable of handling all of its required tasks.
If there are any details you are uncertain about ask
questions. If need be, make a list of tasks that you
need to do research on after the meeting. Often a
client will be asking you to accomplish something
that might involve you using your skills in a new
way. It is OK to walk away from the meeting with some
outstanding issues that you will do research on. It
is not uncommon for the client to want to do something
without know what that "something" is. The
technology of the design industry is constantly changing
and what is possible is always evolving.
I'm interviewsing for a full-time position.
How should I discuss salary and benefits?
Your employment agent may have already discussed
your salary requirements with you and your interviewser.
Because of this, it is probably best to see if the
interviewser brings up a salary discussion. If they
don't mention salary, you shouldn't either. If the
interviewser DOES ask you about your salary requirements,
it's OK to give them a "range" as opposed
to a set number until they are ready to make you an
offer. (that is: "I would like to be making between
$35K and $40K, but we can discuss it more if you feel
you're ready to make me an offer.") Do NOT ask
about benefit plans, vacation schedules, and so on,
until a firm offer has been made. To view a recent
survey of design career salaries go to http://www.designsalaries.com.
What should I charge as a freelancer?
If you are interviewsing for a freelance gig it is
important to know what to charge, and whether it should
be on an hourly or project basis. If you are working
an hourly fee you should make sure you are being adequately
compensated for your time, as you do not want to devalue
your abilities or those of your colleagues by lowering
rates for quality work. At the same time, you do not
wish to overcharge. During the Dot.Com bubble hourly
rates for certain professions shot through the roof,
only to come crashing down upon many a freelancer.
As there are no standard rates for freelance work
you should contact local freelance agencies or headhunters
to find out what rates are appropriate in your area.
As your experience grows you will gain a better assessment
of what to charge.
Should I charge on an hourly rate or a project
When deciding upon whether to charge on an hourly
rate or project fee keep in mind how long the project
will take you. Do not undersell yourself on a project
fee that won't cover the number of hours that you
will spend on the project. Protect yourself by having
the client sign contract detailing exactly what the
project fee will cover, and that all additional work
will result in a re-negotiation of the project fee.
If you are working on an hourly rate be prepared to
keep a record of hours spent on the project as well
as a brief description of what you completed during
Maintain your professionalism.
During all of your business interactions you should
maintain a high degree of professionalism. This includes
dressing appropriately, making strong eye-contact,
hand-shaking, etc. The design industry can be a small
world and you never know who you may run into again
so be sure to consistently give the right impression
to those that you meet and work with. A large degree
of making it in the design world is through networking.
Remember, you are a walking advertisement for yourself
so make sure you are promoting yourself effectively
by looking and acting accordingly.