Over the years we’ve helped numerous design studios and public sector bodies with their hiring, and we’ve talked to many company recruiters about their likes, dislikes and preferences when it comes to candidate interviews.
Ask Questions… before the interview
Great news – having previously submitted your application to that awesome design studio, they’ve got in touch – they like what they see (was there ever any doubt!), and they want to invite you in for an interview.
Often overlooked, this a prime opportunity to ask a few pertinent questions that will improve your ability to make an impression during the interview itself.
Firstly, it is worth asking about their current projects, and more specifically, what projects they might have in mind for this particular vacancy (sorry… I mean your future role), including project sectors, scales and design stages. Sometimes this information is clearly explained on the job description, but this may be limited or missing. Knowing at least a little about the current and upcoming projects can help you decide on which of your project experience could be most relevant and what to focus on when presenting your portfolio.
Whilst uncommon for senior positions, when applying for graduate landscape architect jobs you may find that the interview will also include a short CAD test. It’s worth asking the question to check if that’s the case, and if so, a quick refresher might be useful. Most employers will specify their main CAD software somewhere on the job posting (e.g. AutoCAD, Vectorworks etc), but if for any reason this is missing, it’s worth checking.
You may want to ask questions around the format of the interview, how many interview stages, preferences around the presentation of your portfolio (e.g. printed hard copy, laptop etc, although most are accommodating) and you can always ask open questions such as “what else can you tell me that will help me prepare for the interview”, to see what they say. It’s best not to get too carried away, people are busy and it’s not the Spanish inquisition after all, but if you have the opportunity it’s definitely worth finding out some key details before you meet.
Do your research
It is likely that you would have done some research on the company before submitting your application (at least we hope so), even if that was simply a case of having a look over the company website.
Now that you’ve secured an interview, it’s time to apply those investigative skills and take the research up a gear.
Look for mentions of the studio in industry specific press and blogs. Websites such as Landizer keep an eye on the latest project wins and announcements.
We’ll cover this in more detail in another post, but typically for landscape architecture interview questions, you can expect the interviewer to ask what you know about the studio. This is where some earlier research can also help. You can really impress by referring to some of their previous projects, including what you liked and why, and how these might compare to some of the projects you’ve been involved in, or relevance to your studies and course work.
Don’t forget your contacts and wider network. You may be fortunate to know someone already in the business, and if that’s the case, time to invite them out for a coffee (or beer) to get the insider scoop! Otherwise, don’t forget your Linked In connections, University Alumni and anyone you’ve met at industry networking events, as other possible sources of information.
It goes without saying that not all employers are going to want the same thing, everyone is different after all, but a bit of time spent researching an employer’s firm or organisation can go a long way and help you unearth what might pique their interest. Conversely, it can also help you determine if they’re the right place for you too.