An Interview with Jim Van Meer

This mock interview is an assignment for my graduate course on professional design practices.

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Mr. Jim Van Meer who is a creative services manager at the American Petroleum Institute (API) for a web design position. Even though I prepared a portfolio presentation to showcase my expertise in responsive web design, I didn’t talk about my work. Mr. Van Meer had something else in mind.

Right off the bat, he asked me whether I would be the survival of the fittest or the survival of the cooperative. I answered the latter. I do the best work in a team environment and I provided an example of how I collaborated with the talented designers and developers at Vassar college to not only meet deadlines, but also used the best individual skills for the job.

One of the most intriguing questions he asked me was on standards and how I would present complex information in a simple manor. Without much time to think, I gave an example of web standards. I often had to explain to clients, supervisors and novice web designers the important of web standards. My analogy to help them understand web standards was the example of a dishwasher. Let’s say that your dishwasher broke and you need a replacement. A standard size would allow you to pick out a new dishwasher without worrying if it would fit in your kitchen. If you design your site with web standards, you’ll make your life easier as well as those whose responsible for maintaining the site that you designed.

The last question he asked me was why manhole covers are rounded. I knew that the rounded shape would prevent the covers from dropping into the hole, but I couldn’t articulate the reasons for it. Sometimes when I think hard about a logical reason, I get blank out.

When it was my turn for questions, I asked Mr. Van Meer what he enjoyed most working here and he replied the trust the boss gave him, the flexibility as well as the creative freedom. In term of digital products and services, Mr. Van Meer would like to see API to be 100% web base, which includes online training, various devices and apps, in the next two years. The skillsets that Mr. Van Meer is looking to fill with a new hire are the ability to design and turning designs into web, app and digital medium.

After our interview, Mr. Van Meer explained that the questions he asked were to get to know the candidate. He wanted to see the candidate’s quick reaction as well as his ability to work in a creative yet demanding environment. The reason he didn’t want me to present my portfolio was that he already knew what I was capable of doing through my web site and portfolio. He said, “If I didn’t think you could do what we were looking for, I wouldn’t bring you in for an interview.”

I had learn a great deal through our interview and I hope I did well.