7 Things You Must Bring To An Architecture Job Interview (And 5 You Shouldn’t)

Sara Mandeed
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What You Should (And Shouldn't) Bring To An Architecture Job Interview

The advice for what to wear for an architecture job interview is a bit different from that of other design jobs. While it's important to dress in ways that reflect your personal style, it's equally important to put your best foot forward.

So when packing for a job interview, just make sure you are bringing copies of your portfolio or any other professional work with you (and in a portfolio) and you'll do just fine.

Ideally, you want your portfolio or portfolio website to be the very first thing the interviewer sees. You want them to see your greatest strengths first – and even if you've not had the chance to share your portfolio, you can still say something like 'we can look at my portfolio upon the end of the interview if you like' which can add a level of intrigue to the conversation.

Copies of your resume (CV)

Your resume is the most important document you will bring to the interview. Make sure you have at least 3 copies of your resume ready. They should be either emailed to you as a pdf or hard copies.

If you are asked to bring a digital format with you, don’t just email yourself a copy. Get yourself a free account with Dropbox or Google Drive, and make sure the resume is backed up online. That way, you don’t have to worry about your hard drive crashing, getting lost and you can access it from any computer.

Copies of your sample portfolio

Before you even make it into the interview, make sure you have some copies of your portfolio to give to your interviewer.

A portfolio will help you show potential employers your previous work, professional goals, and what you are capable of. Most artists are able to create a stunning portfolio with the help of innovative products that are actually affordable. Portfolios can be an effective way of showing just what you can offer to a company and allow you to stand out from the other candidates. If you are not able to make a portfolio from scratch you should try to get your hands on a professional artist’s portfolio to take your interview to the next level.

Copies of your interview portfolio

The portfolio is important to present during the interview and the portfolio has to be physically present at the interview.

But the moment after the interview when the portfolio is no longer necessary on the table, you certainly do not need to bring it with you. If you do bring the portfolio back to your place of living, leave it in a nice place where it can be easily found for the next interview.

Drawing document sets

A drawing document set describes a set of drawings or other documents.

It should include the title, description, and indexing information. It should also incorporate information about the intended audience and purpose, along with any other relevant information.

A company may also use a document set to describe the deliverable of a project. General features may include support for connectivity, usability, security, and management. An architect, for example, may use a document set to describe the functional elements of a design, such as the building envelope, mechanical and electrical systems, or how people will move through the interior.

A professional bag

A first impression is extremely important. If you want the hiring manager’s first impression of you to be a good one, arrive for the interview with a professional bag … your portfolio!

A professional bag is one of the most critical elements of your interview preparation. When you arrive for the interview, you should be confident and comfortable. Not only will having a bag that represents you professionally make you feel more confident, it will also make a good impression on the recruiter.

So, what’s the right bag? If you have a formal education or if you’ve interned or worked as an architect before, bring a briefcase. If you’re just starting out or haven’t worked in architecture before, a messenger bag will show that you’re serious about the position.

The bag itself doesn’t have to be expensive – it just has to look professional. Skip the bright, flashy colors and pick a basic color that stands out (but also blends in, so throw in some fancy accessories).

Notebook and pens

Like you, your interviewer likely has a lot going on at the office. A lot of thought and preparation has gone into this opportunity, and your interviewer is probably interested in ending the meeting with a good first impression.

That’s why it’s important not to come unprepared. Make sure you have a notebook and a pen to take notes. This demonstrates that you’re serious about the interview, and it provides your interviewer with a way to follow up at a later time. You might feel awkward taking notes, which is understandable. Especially if you are on your first interview, the idea of it can be overwhelming, but believe me, taking notes is one of the most important things you can do … and if your interviewer sees you taking notes, they will definitely take notice.

A list of questions to ask

When I was younger, I did not take this step seriously. And I usually just really focused on two or three questions, which I spent a few hours and days preparing before the interview. However, a better approach is to ask a softer and more open-ended question than just turning up with a list of pre-prepared questions.

One question that you need to ask is, do you have any reservations about me in the position of being the person to do this job? If so, what are they? Do they worry about how I will work with others? If they have worked with me before, then they should know what my personality is like in the office. Also, you should ask why they believe they are the right person for this job. And also why you should be considered?

These questions will help you understand the situation a lot better. And also let the employer know where you stand. If they don’t have any trouble with you, then they will not worry about these minor details. But if they do, they may do so and realise that they shouldn’t offer you the job based on the fact that they believe that they will not be able to work together.

What NOT to bring to an architecture job interview

There are some things you shouldn’t bring to an interview, even if you think they’ll help you get the job.

An unprofessional bag

A messy desk bag, such as a duffel bag or an old school backpack indicates a poor work ethic. Make sure that your bag is professional in both look and function.

When it comes to color, dark blue or black are the safest options. A solid color will also help make sure there is no confusion over your gender.

Clean, well maintained shoes.

When we say shoes, we mean all of them. Unlike your office where you can take off your shoes, an architecture interview requires shoe wearing at all times. Make sure that your shoes are clean, have polished seams and hems, and that your shoelaces have no stains.

When it comes to dress, as with most things, you don’t want to show up overdressed. Just be sure that you look the part. If you can get a feel for what the other students wear, that will give you a good idea of who’s over-dressed and who’s under-dressed.

A large tablet.

Rather than bringing a notebook and a pen, bring a large tablet with a pen attached or a stylus so you can take notes. You can bring along a few extra pens in case the one that comes with your tablet runs out of ink.

A copy of your resume.

Physical models

Most architecture firms use models for many reasons. A physical model can convey a lot more information than an artist’s renderings and floor plans, as it allows people to sense the space through visualization and touch. Someone actually must walk around the model to really understand the design.

Some firms specialize in the design and fabrication of physical models, but architecture students can also create the models themselves with the help of a professional model maker or a 3D printer.

The right model can communicate the character of a building and the quality of the design. You can have your choice between realistic and abstract models, which communicate very different messages. A realistic model with many detailed materials, shadows, and lighting can create a very strong sense of realism and place the viewer in the building. It also shows that you’re able to consider a building’s surroundings.

On the other hand, an abstract model may not be as detailed and realistic, but it can convey a sense of intrigue and place that stimulates the imagination. It can also show your ability to use different materials and to create a relationship between different parts of the building.

Prints larger than 11" x 17" (A3)

If you have plans beyond the scope of a school project, such as a small-scale housing development or a park design, consider bringing a few of the works to the interview. They’ll provide an opportunity for you to talk about and explain your work, which will help the interviewer understand your philosophy toward architecture.

Your computer

A quality portfolio is the best thing you can bring to an interview. However, unless you’re interviewing for a graphic design position, your computer is also essential. As an architecture student, you’re likely to have a particularly heavy load of software and design program files to carry with you.

Sometimes, small risks lead to the biggest rewards. You’re more likely to stand out from the competition and catch the attention of hiring managers if you come to the interview prepared to demonstrate your many capabilities. Think beyond just the interview. Your portfolio represents you as a designer in every interaction you have.

Pets, friends or parents

What to bring to an architecture interview?

Almost all architecture offices will require some face time in the morning in order for them to figure out how to best utilize your skills and what they can expect from you.

This can vary from a 15 minute informal chat over a cup of coffee, or a 1 hour tour of the city! Always stand by to be able to go for a short walk and give your explanation of why you’re a perfect fit for the architects office.

Bringing a friend or your mum/dad can make you feel more comfortable, but please don’t bring your pet.

Everyone loves their pet, but it’s best to leave your animal at home.

The last thing you want is for your baby to start crying and interrupt the flow.