While it can be nerve-wracking to walk into a job interview, there are steps you can take to ensure you stand out from the crowd. In recent years, there has been an increase in virtual interviews, which means it’s even more crucial for designers to have a solid portfolio and confidence in their skills. Many graphic designers search for openings on job boards; however, it’s important to note that there doesn’t always need to be a vacancy for a company to be interested in your skillset. You can read more below to learn eight tips to help you prepare for your graphic design interview.

1. Personalize Your Portfolio

One of the most important steps an aspiring graphic designer needs to take when looking for a new job is building and personalizing a portfolio of samples. A well-rounded portfolio contains high-quality copies of design work that integrates with the applicant’s personality. Strong portfolios are customized for each interview to ensure the content is relevant to the potential position. A graphic design portfolio should evolve over time as designers gain experience and learn new skill sets.

Graphic designers should have an online portfolio as well as a physical hard copy portfolio. It’s important to research different hosting platforms for an online portfolio and ensure all links are functional before sharing with a potential employer. Many graphic designers use Adobe Portfolio to host their portfolio, as the platform offers unlimited pages.

2. Research the Company

While this step is often overlooked when people are preparing for an interview, researching the company or employer is an excellent opportunity for applicants to learn more about business functions and vision goals. Researching can help answer interview questions and determine if the specific role or company is the right fit for your personal career path. Most businesses and organizations have a website or some form of an online presence, which is one of the best places to research relevant information when preparing for an interview.

3. Make Copies of Your Resume

Before heading to your design interview, it’s helpful to print out several copies of your resume to bring with you. Many employers or HR managers will have your resume on hand from your application, but this does not mean you should skip out on bringing several copies with you to the interview. Taking this extra step is a great way to show that you are prepared for the appointment and update the document with any changes after submitting your initial application.

4. Prepare for Interview Questions

The one area of an interview that applicants tend to find most challenging is answering an interviewer’s questions on the spot. This portion of an interview can run much smoother with practice answering model questions. Websites like Indeed have interview resources for applicants with graphic design interview questions you can use to anticipate and practice having confidence with your answers. Many graphic designers suggest using the STAR method during the interview question phase, which focuses on situations, tasks, actions, and results.

5. Create a Presentation

Another way to stand out from other applicants is to develop a presentation for your interview. This step is not typically required for a graphic design interview, which means creating a presentation can showcase your unique skills and shows you are willing to go above and beyond with your work. Hiring managers will see a lot of resumes and portfolios during the interview process but creating a visually engaging presentation to highlight your strengths will help them remember your work.

6. Arrive on Time

This tip may seem obvious but arriving on time and being punctual for an interview date is extremely important for securing a position. It can be detrimental to your employment chances when you show up to an interview late, as this communicates that you don’t value the opportunity or the interviewer’s time. If you arrive early to the interview location, use that as a time to gather your thoughts and practice your answers beforehand. It’s recommended applicants head into the building 5 to 10 minutes before the set time.

7. Be Confident

It’s important to be confident with your skills and experience in the field when completing a graphic design interview. Indeed cites some common interview mistakes as losing focus and being unsure of resume content, which can relate to a lack of confidence or extreme nerves during the process.

It’s completely normal to feel nervous before or during an interview but practicing and taking time to answer questions fully can help alleviate those nerves. Some graphic designers like to make note sheets to review before an interview, while others prefer to rehearse answering questions about their education, professional experience, and skills.

8. Write a Thank You Letter

Another commonly overlooked step is sending a thank you note via email or handwritten letter following an interview. A survey from Accountemps showed that while HR managers feel it is beneficial to receive a thank you note after an interview, only 24% of applicants send one in. These thank you letters are not only an excellent way to make a positive impression but also provide the ability to add any information you forgot during your interview. Though most applicants skip this step, it is beneficial to send off a quick appreciative note to your interviewer for the opportunity.

Acing a graphic design interview doesn’t have to be difficult with the proper preparation and samples of your skills in the field. Building a personalized portfolio and organized resume can help catch an employer’s eye, along with a confident attitude and unique design samples. Another way to help your resume stand out from other applicants is to take graphic design classes.

Live online graphic design bootcamps are classes for those who want to jump into a new career in design and learn all of the skills needed to excel in the industry. Certificate or bootcamp-style classes require less time commitment than four-year degrees and are typically less expensive. If you’re going to start a new career in design but have no experience, search for graphic design bootcamps in your area to learn what options are available.