More "Telling" Interview Questions from Readers

September 27, 2006 - 2:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

In the last issue of DesignGeek (#56), I wrote about a design studio owner friend of mine who used "telling" questions during interviews as a spot check for quality designers.

For example, in the middle of the interview, my friend Joe would sometimes point at one of the chartreuse walls in the studio and ask the applicant, "What would be the CMYK mix for that color, do you think?"

The five percent of new-grad interviewees who had some inkling of what CMYK meant garnered points just for taking a stab at it.

I invited you all to send in your own "telling questions" you use in interviews, and you didn't disappoint! Here are some of the more interesting replies … my apologies if I didn't have room to fit yours.

Your Telling Questions

Dave was one of many DG readers who couldn't help himself from mentioning what he would have replied to Joe's question about the chartreuse walls:

"I would be among those who say: "CMYK? Ummm … I'm not sure what you mean." Of course I would follow up with a suggestion that he would need to go to a 5th color or hexachrome or something (and even then it might be a pretty hard match). I'd probably tell him about the piece I did with a kiss plate of florescent green under the process colors."

Whoa! ;-)

Dave went on to say that when he suspects an interviewee is taking credit for a portfolio piece they didn't design, "I ask them who the photographer or illustrator was. When they say "I can't remember" I press on to see if they can at least remember something about the photographer or illustrator — if not I suspect the worst and can usually confirm it with a few more questions later in the interview."

Diane recalled an interview question that stumped her back when she was 20: "They asked me what a blueline was. My printer has switched to spin jet proofs, and either term it's something you need to know."

Timm suggests the following questions (but cautions, "It would be cruel to ask more than a couple of these"): "Point to the counter in this letter … If you saddle-stitch something what is it now? … What's imposition? … Point to the crops, bleeds, registration marks, and calibration bars on this press sheet … If the RGB equivalent is out of gamut what do you do to prep the process equivalent?"

Frank recalled a phone interview he blew because he couldn't answer the boss's telling question: "What is the keyboard command for "Lock" and "Unlock" in Illustrator?"

I thought that was a little unfair for an interview question and asked him what the position was that he had applied for. "They wanted someone for production work in Illustrator." Um … nevermind.

Another Dave, the "Production Leader at a design-slash-marketing-communications firm, I interview the design and production candidates," shared a few of the interview questions he actually uses: "How would you rename a folder of 150 JPEGs to add the date in the filename? … Can you cut out that circle with an X-acto knife? [What is this X-acto knife you speak of — AM] … Why did you pick that kind of paper for this job, and what kind is it?… Who printed this? (bonus points awarded if they tell me the pressman's name)."

I e-mailed Dave back and said if I were being interviewed, I'd say the pressman's name was Mike, because all pressmen are named Mike. I was joking of course, but Dave immediately replied, "You are a genius. My go-to printer's head pressman is named Mike."

9-ball, corner pocket. Thwack. ;-)

Let's finish this up with Ricardo, a DesignGeek reader from Brazil. He said out of all the telling questions he uses, these three are his favorites: "Can you send me your portfolio in PDF format? (believe me, A LOT of self-named designers don´t know what is PDF) … Which image resolution did you used in this case?" … Do you think this kerning is ok? (if someone doesn´t know what is kerning, it is time to learn!)"

Sometimes, as Joe would attest, it's the simple questions that are the most telling.

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