Sally-Ann Gill is Senior Lecturer on BA(Hons) Textile Design.
We’ll run a piece about being interviewed for other Fashion & Textiles Institute courses soon too – look out for it!
As senior lecturer and first year co-ordinator on the Textile Design course, I get to interview most of our new applicants. I thought it would be useful to offer an insight into how your interview can make a positive impression. So here are 6 ways to impress me at interview:
1)Be memorable. I interviewed a student some years ago who was wearing a beautiful handmade Peter Pan collared blouse. That might sound unremarkable but it suited her enormously and really complemented her personality. Her work was equally as smart and as well presented as she was but the truth is, years later, I remember more about what she was wearing that day than her actual work. She made an impression on me, I accepted her onto the course and she flourished and bloomed into a brilliant and successful designer with her own style.
(This is what a Peter Pan collar looks like.)
2) Anticipate the questions that you are likely to be asked. For example: you ought to know without even thinking about it who inspires you and which textile designers you particularly admire. But if you are more inspired by artists, films or places (for example) be ready to talk to me about that. I want to know what makes you tick, what drives your enthusiasm. Which leads me nicely onto the next point:
3) Be enthusiastic. I am looking for students who are interested and motivated by their work. You don’t have to be over the top about it, some of our students are quietly enthusiastic, others are more ebullient and outgoing in their enthusiasm. Whether you are shy or not so shy, be ready to talk about your work in an interested and focussed manner.
4) Be yourself. I am always interested to find out about what you do outside of school or college. It’s part of being memorable I suppose. Tell me if you are a scout leader, play the ukulele, go pot-holing or enjoy baking. Your hobbies help to make you unique and reveal more about what you are about. It is worth knowing that although our course is called Textile Design, there are many, many other roles in the world of textiles beyond being a textile designer. I don’t mind telling you that sometimes I interview people who might not go on to win the most coveted design jobs in the end. But we recognise that they could make great textile production managers or teachers or stylists or find another equally satisfying niche in the world of textiles. An interviewer will spot potential and help bring out the best in each student when they are studying at Falmouth whatever their personality, skills and ambition.
5) Prepare your portfolio. At last, I’m going to talk about your work: You might think that I want to see weaving, knitting, printing and embroidery. Well I do, if you have it. But I’m more interested in seeing drawing and idea generation. Bring a range of work which could include photography and graphic design too and present it smartly. I don’t want to see dog eared corners on your sheets of drawings. And – this is for the smokers out there: I definitely don’t want to smell stale cigarette smoke in your work (my pet hate- comes from teaching for a couple of summers in Holloway prison, where the inmates were allowed to smoke during lessons- but that’s another story). Organise your portfolio, it’s a good idea to start and end with your best projects or pieces of work. Be proud of your work and re mount drawings if they would look better. I also get a lot of information from sketchbooks. Bring a couple to interview as they show your journey through projects and your individuality.
6) Enjoy your interview. Be happy. A smile goes a long way towards making a good impression and helps make you memorable. Remember that you are interviewing me as much as I am interviewing you. (So I will be smiling too!) Ask me questions at the end of the interview. It is vital that you pick the right course and university for you. We have to be a good fit, since we’ll be together for three years!