Working Girl 101: Myths About the Creative Job Interview

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Myths About the Creative Job Interview header By Farah Joan Fard

The sales clerk was insisting I buy a lime green blouse, since I was interviewing for a producer role. The color looked awful on me. "But it's bright," she said. "It shows that you’re artistic!," she said.

My mom, an art teacher, stood next to me. The look on her face said it all. The color of the blouse didn’t insinuate that I’m creative. It suggested that I needed Dramamine. I recall reading many articles after graduating college, each depicting the creative and savvy job seeker’s ideal interview wardrobe. Crazy but sensible shoes! Sleek hair. Bright colors! Angles. And yet I realized that every single job interview I’d had that actually led to a job (unfortunately four already since 2005, due to two subsequent layoffs) was one where I’d worn black and white with colorful accessories.

All fields have their quirks. Applying to a job at an ad agency is vastly different than applying for a teaching job, and the list goes on. Portfolio needs vary, as do requirements and process. What are some common creative job interview myths? And how do they stack up?

Dress for the Job You Want Yes...and no. Loud doesn’t always equate to creative, and zany doesn’t always mean on point. Despite the fact that most jobs I’ve had were in studios or offices where the standard uniform seemed to be ripped jeans and flannel, dressing like this for an interview would be unprofessional in my opinion. I have to admit I went to two interviews where the women interviewing me were pretty much in yoga attire, but I had to realize they’d been working on the production all day and took time to speak with me. You don’t have that luxury as the candidate for employment. Look your best. And if black or grey look best on you, so be it! Jazz it up with something else that shows your personality. Who says you need that neon green blouse? If you’re not comfortable, does the splash of color matter?

Showcase Your Creative Skills in Your Cover Letter and Resume It’s one thing to create a resume or cover letter to match the design and color of the organization you’re applying to (this has worked well for me in the past), but it’s another to smother your prospective employer with an unrelated creative skill. For instance, many people have success with making videos cover letters, especially for audio and video jobs. On the other hand, I was once helping to hire a freelancer and we received a cover letter in the form of a song. Cute and fun, yes. Related to the job? No. It shows that you’re not afraid to take risks, but you don’t want to come across as goofy, either.

Hide Your Online Presence? When I was first laid off and applying to jobs, I hid my website and online presence. I was afraid that someone would disagree with an article I’d written, or find my band and...eek! I’d get stage fright. Then my friend asked me why my website wasn’t on my resume. Wasn’t I proud of my work? I had to reflect on my writing and projects and realized that it was silly for me to hide it. I’d worked hard, even before graduating college, to get some high profile and near impossible press passes and interviews. Nothing I’d written was scandalous. Sure, some of my recent articles focused on women’s issues, but that was also nothing to be ashamed of, though I was afraid it could be interpreted politically. Point being, if your freelance work or hobbies are something you’re proud of, don’t be shy. Lots of the work from the blog project I did last year was relatable to my interviews and made great conversation pieces. It also showed that I was active between full time employment.

What creative field are you diving into? Have you heard any off the wall tips for getting into this field? Or are you a hiring manager who has seen some crazy interviews? We’d love to hear your stories, agreements, or disagreements!

Keep up with Farah on Twitter @LaParadiddle, and be sure to check out her wonderful site, laparadiddle.com!