My First Interview – Again

You have your resume, your portfolio, some sketches you’ve worked on in your spare time, and some other creative work you’ve been doing all packaged together to show off the best of yourself;  tell me again why I am having to do this almost 20 years into my career?

After a pretty good break, ArchiTalks is back.  This is now the 46th post in the series, and at 1 a month, that’s a lot of posts you need to go back and read before you get too far into this season.

About 7 months ago I found myself completely at a loss and having to put together an updated resume.  Wow, I hadn’t done this in years.  Did you still print it out, is everything just digital now, do I have any good pictures of the projects I’ve worked on, do I need….  wait…   first things first; I need to get an interview somewhere.  Time to make some phone calls.  Since I’ve been doing this a while now, I had a few people I could call and start making some waves.  That’s quite a bit different than when I started doing this right out of school.  The only people I knew back then were in class with me five days a week and were all pretty much in the same boat looking and hoping something would happen.  Lot’s of phone calls, lots of letters, and more time waiting than anyone likes but finally a bite, maybe a couple bites, it’s hard to remember.

Time for research

Honestly, I think this is the easiest part, but one that it seems that a lot of people tend to overlook.  Doing a little research on the company that is about to interview you is about as simple as it gets, and sometimes you find some interesting little tidbits of information that can really set you apart.  These days there are so many different ways to find out about a company through websites, social media, print, etc.  It’s almost like you can know what it will be like before you ever step foot in the door; not so much when I started.  Websites, sure; printed material, some yeah, but I didn’t have a clue as to what to look for.

Don’t forget to look up the person/people that are going to be interviewing you; if you have that information.  Same as researching a company, you can find out so much about a person and be able to bring something up that seriously interests them beyond what drafting software they work on.

OK, so the day finally arrives, did I mention the waiting thing, and you have everything printed.  Wait do I have everything printed?  Check, check again, ok check once more just to make sure.  Now, what do I wear?  Is it a corporate firm, are they casual, somewhere in between?  How do I answer their questions?  What types of questions are they going to ask?  Are my answers going to be right, is there a right answer, is there a wrong answer?  Are they going to like me, are they going to think I’m a complete fraud, are they going to figure out I’m a complete fraud?  The questions to yourself, the nervousness, the pit in your stomach as your about to walk out the door and walk into an office where you have never been before; it comes back no matter how many times you’ve done this before.

Be Yourself

Probably the most over given piece of advise you’ve ever heard for just about every situation.  Yeah, yeah, I know, but after going through a few of these, it really is the best approach you can have as you begin the interview process.  The people that are interviewing you want to get a glimpse into who you are and what makes you tick.  Lots of people know AutoCAD, Revit, Photoshop, you name it; but how many of them get up at 5:30 in the morning on the weekend to drive out to a local lake just to get a shot of the sunrise coming over the water?  How many people are building a garden that runs the entire length of their back yard, even though that process has taken a couple of years already?  Hopefully no one, because those two are mine.

If your answers are personal, if they have a sense of who you are in them, trust me it comes across.  Answers that are overly rehearsed and sound like they are exactly what the interviewer wants to hear definitely come across as insincere. The uniqueness that you bring with you will be the most memorable part of the process.  When I first started going through these I didn’t realize that, my answers were robotic and typical, almost felt like I was phoning them in.  Lesson learned the hard way on that one.

I think I am at a point now that I’ve experienced quite a few interviews, quite a few different interviewer types, and I’m able to get though them all pretty well.  But honestly I think I would be just fine if I didn’t have to go through another one.  I say that and then I remember tomorrow were getting ready to be interviewed for a project tomorrow.  Hehe, what was I thinking?

Curious about how everyone else wrote about their first interview?  Check out all the links below.

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Interview — Nervous Energy

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
“my first interview”

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
My First Job Interview

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
My first interview

Larry Lucas – Lucas Sustainable, PLLC (@LarryLucasArch)
My First Interview That Reconnected Me to the Past

Ben Norkin – Hyperfine Architecture (-)
My First Interview – Your Next Interview


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