How to prepare for a job interview in Singapore's creative industry, according to Foreign Policy Design Group's co-founder Yah-Leng Yu
As someone who regularly speaks to young creatives, I often hear them whinging about the quality of their current job while simultaneously dreading the prospect of quitting and interviewing for a new opportunity once again.
The truth is, interviews and workplace politics have so much in common with dating and relationships (although it is frowned upon when they intertwine); both require a certain level of discernment and emotional intelligence (EQ). The success of a professional match soars exponentially when we know exactly what we're looking for as well as what we bring to the table.
A lot of that work begins way before the first face-to-face meeting. I spoke to one of Singapore's most respected creative leaders, Foreign Policy Design Group's co-founder Yah-Leng Yu, to break it down step-by-step and demystify the process of landing that dream creative job. Here's what she had to say.
1. Design your CV to reflect your style and personality.
Because the job is creative, I would expect a properly designed CV — something that would showcase your design style, sensibility, and type choice. It's sort of a branding for yourself as well. Please don't send a word document that's badly formatted. You're not putting in any effort at all if you're trying to land a design role. Your CV is the most important piece of your application as that's where your prospective employer will get all the information they need to assess you as an applicant. If you can't impress your prospective employer with your CV's aesthetics, you would have lost half the battle. Design-wise, the style doesn't matter but I look for precision in typesetting because this is a type-heavy design piece and typography is the basis of graphic design. Important information such as email address, contact infomation, and link to your portfolio should be available and clearly visible.
2. Create a website that showcases your best work.
Please do not attach a huge portfolio file with your email. It'll choke the email server of your prospective employer. If you're a designer, it is expected that you should have a website that showcases a curated collection of your work.
3. Articulate your knowledge of the employer and present yourself as an asset in the cover letter.
It's important that you're not sending out a generic letter to your prospective employers. The more you're able to demonstrate or express about the prospective office, the better. Communicate how you'll be able to be an asset to their office, but feel free to express your personality. If name-dropping gets attention, you should give it a shot but it will need to be verifiable as well.
4. Keep your cover letter short and succinct.
It shouldn't be long. No one has the time to read long-winded letters; a few short paragraphs to express your interest, your knowledge of the prospect, and how you will add value to their team would be good enough. Since the cover letter sits within the email, there's absolutely no need to send it as a separate attachment or format it like a formal letter with address at the top corner. Be sincere, and don't attempt to use bombastic words.
5. Be prepared to talk about your best work.
Curate three or four pieces of works that best showcase your strength and style. If you're not a talker, write something down and practice until you're confident. Employers are keen to know if your thought flow, design approach, and decision-making aptitude are in alignment with their organisation's. Check out the organisation's website and social media to get familiar with their latest projects as well. Most of all, be an authentic version of yourself at the interview, instead of pretending to be someone you're not.
6. Be punctual and well-groomed.
Come on time. If you're early, please don't ask the interviewer to bring your interview slot forward. Don't be late obviously. The dress code is usually 'design smart', so don't come in a suit or prom dress. Makeup should be moderately applied. Brush your teeth and check your breath since you'll be speaking a lot. Make sure you wear deodorant too if you tend to sweat and smell a lot (real story). If you know you usually sweat a lot, arrive early and cool down somewhere near the company's address before heading in, instead of going in immediately with a sweat-soaked shirt that's wet-stuck to your body (real story).
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