Interview tips

I got it! An interview for a printshop that essentially does anything print under the sun.

Any tips or questions I should be prepared for on this new endeavor as a fresh college grad?

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Research the company. Find out as much about them and the job as possible, then tailor your presentation to match up to the skills, attitude, personality, and skills they likely need.

In other words, be truthful, but show interest in what they do and how they do it. Since you will have done your research, ask them intelligent questions about their business that will demonstrate your interest. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself, who would be the ideal person for the job.

Smile, be friendly, act relaxed (even though you won’t be), act confident, but also be deferential. This should go unsaid, but dress up — not a full-blown suit for a print shop, but certainly don’t wear jeans and a hoodie. Put on a tie and iron your shirt. Don’t overdress, though.

Finally, mirror their behavior. If they act business-like, do the same. If they’re relaxed and casual, it’s probably OK to loosen up just a bit (not too much). If they’re laughing, it’s OK for you to laugh too. Show them you’re like them and will fit right in.

By the way, congratulations and good luck. I’ve interviewed hundreds of people for jobs. What I’ve described could put you ahead of the others with similar skills, experience, and talent.


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B’s advice is spot on.

The only thing I’d add is, don’t try and appear too knowledgable about the ins and outs of the job. As B says show an eagerness to learn and be specific about them as a company, so they know you’ve cared enough to do your research, but remember you are not expected to know absolutely everything at this stage of the game.

I’ve seen graduates come for interview, all brimming with eagerness, trying to prove to you that they already know what the job of being a designer is all about. It is all done with the best of intentions, to show you how committed and eager they are, but they can’t possibly know it all at that point, so it never comes across particularly well.

Again, as B said, honesty is always the way to go,

Good luck. Let us know how it goes. Exciting stuff.

I’m going to suggest you skip the tie. A print shop is no place for a tie. Not sure of your climate where you are, but a sweater or ironed shirt under a casual sport coat works. Non-blue jeans can work depending on the print shop and the job you are applying for (production or design?) The idea is to look neat and presentable but not too overdressed as to give off the vibe you won’t get your hands dirty. If it’s a design job, look good enough to be client facing but also remember that in a busy, do-it-all printshop there are possibly times when it’s ‘all hands on deck’ and everyone gets in on production.

As a fresh college grad, you won’t be expected to have the chops yet to do too much on your own. If they are interviewing you, they are probably looking for someone they can bring up in the way they want things done. Be receptive to that. Don’t chafe if they aren’t going to let you have free reign on your designs. Don’t dwell on what you don’t know. Focus on what you do know and if showing a portfolio, briefly how and why you did what you’re showing. Goes without saying bring only your best pieces and something that takes no longer than 15-20 minutes to present.

Since you didn’t say what type of job you’re applying for, the questions you’ll get or should ask would vary.

Oh, and if it’s a production job, there is no better way to learn how to design than by learning how it has to be set up to be produced (and the limitations of the printers, media, plotters and CNC cutters.)
Soak it all up.
The trade school kids we used to get were not allowed to design until they had worked in the print shop. They were some of the best interns we had!


If interviewing in general makes you nervous, think of the top 10 or so common questions (i.e. “Tell me about yourself?” “Why do you think you’re good for this job”, etc. and write down how you would answer those questions. Read over those answers out loud until you feel like you can answer them pretty comfortably.

You don’t need to memorize the answers (in fact, I would recommend not to d that, because that comes across as a little unnatural), but just reading it out loud 6 or 7 times can make your brain comfortable enough that when you have to answer the question in the interview you can answer the question comfortably without stumbling or making it up as you go along.

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I should have went more into detail about the role, however, I was busy when I made the original post.

I am not 100% sure what role it is he would like to interview me for. There was no job listing.

On my own I decided to print a personalized cover letter to the owner, my resume and a physical portfolio (had it bound as well) and brought it to the owner in a manila envelope. If he wasn’t hiring then at least he has my stuff now, good news is he apparently is hiring.

I gave it to him and a short introduction as to who I am. As he begun to go through the folder his phone rang so we got cut short. He emailed me in the next couple days asking for an interview.

To sum up, I presented myself as a graphic designer in my portfolio and resume. So the role “should” be a graphic designer. I’m open to other roles to learn print as you said. I’m looking forward to learning how print works.

@Just-B @CraigB @sprout @PrintDriver

Well I had the interview today. I have mixed feelings about how it went. On my end I did as well as I could. The shop is very cool, however, very new as well. Begun in June 2021, apparently they had another junior designer before myself and this designer had way over promised them. He was no good at all, which unfortunate for me leaves a bad taste in the new shops mouth for junior designers.

So, long story short, he would like to hire me, however, here comes the cringe he wants me to do a small project “nothing big” to test my abilities as apparently the last junior designer did not have to do this, which resulted in the designer skating by and becoming a nuisance to the owner. I know how we feel as a community about these tests prior to hiring. I am brand new to the work force and could learn a lot from the position from start to finish of a print production.

Start: Minimum wage, part-time, small entry project (I’m aware I’m getting shafted)
Finish: Once proven my abilities then full time will come with pay raises

Congratulations! Maybe you’re not feeling that but it does apply!

This is your first gig, not your only one. In the interview did you discuss your work that you had given to him? I’m really wrestling here because it is a bit much that he’s asking you to do a sample project especially if he’s seen your work. However, it comes down to; how bad do you want to start working? Is your mental health going to suffer more if you’re not working or if you are working someplace starting off with a bad taste in your mouth? Part time gives you a chance to keep looking for another job (which you should, regardless.) You will likely learn more than you would not working. If you do the small project, let it be the last time. Make sure you keep portfolio ready samples of everything you do for this job, make it a habit, with every project for your whole career. You can sort out the good and best later.

If you decide to walk away from this one, I doubt anybody here would judge you harshly.

Asking for a small project to test your ability might be frowned upon, but from the employer’s point of view, it makes sense. Hiring someone isn’t a trivial investment, and if they got burned the first time, it’s hard to blame them. Looking on the positive side of all this, it’s your opportunity to impress them.

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For me, that request is quite different to the expectation of no pay.

He is not asking you to do work that he will financially gain from, but you make no money. The point is to see if you can put your money where your mouth is. For him to have had someone who couldn’t be bothered is potentially damaging to his business. He needs to know he’s not making the same mistake. If it’s a 48pp catalogue he asks of you, that’s pushing it a long way, but if it’s a single-sided leaflet to see if you know how to set a document up, that’s OK in this instance, to my mind.

I’d say, show willing. Go for it. Sounds like a good opportunity that’s worth putting a little investment into. We’ll done. Congratulations.

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I worked in a print shop in September for about a month. It wasnt a professional print shop by any means and the projects were further than the bottom of the barrel and they took any project no matter if it was set up properly or not to the dismay of the other two designers who clearly were on a super struggle.

My experience seems to be vastly different than yours and it looks like your shop may be in a better place/location. I totally understand their reluctance to hire another junior designer but i wouldn’t worry it definitely takes time to learn the machines, paper, set-up.

It’s something every designer should do at some point and alot of it is really cool. Seeing the process come together is much different then sending something off.

I think youll do fine in your practice assignment. Let us know how it goes!

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