Ben Stott

Describe the Ideal Candidate in three words

What’s the most common mistake people make when they apply for jobs?
The lack of personal touch. You’re asking to become part of a tightly knit team, spending most of your waking hours with people who don’t yet know you. Look like you mean it. Research the studio and person you are hoping to speak to and don’t send generic, open-ended emails and PDFs.

What’s the best question anyone’s asked you in an interview?
Not technically an interview, but I recently saw an interesting take on a designer’s C.V. online. What caught my eye was the way they had positioned themselves by listing the attributes they were looking for in an agency. In effect recruiting an agency, instead of applying for a job.

How important is it for you to see personal work?
There is a big difference between “after hours” freelance work and “personal” work. The latter shows initiative, expands your horizons and can be used to hone new skills. It will also tell you a lot more about someone than an identity for a friend. This kind of personal work shouldn’t stop once you’re into full time employment. I actively encourage it. Not only does it keep designers inspired and motivated, it also brings a fresh perspective into the studio. It’s also becoming increasingly important to be open-minded to designers’ “other” projects, as a new breed of designer with new skill sets seems to increasingly shun the world of full time employment.

Is it possible to do too many internships?
The experience can be very useful and the right combination can help to get you a job at an agency that may have otherwise overlooked you. But like lovers, too many never looks good. Ideally you should aim for around 4-6 placements at agencies you are interested in and where there is some degree of connection. Try to get a reasonable stay at each agency and avoid doing too many quick internships that don’t really amount to much.

What’s more important, experience or enthusiasm?
It really depends on what role you are looking to fill. Experience can be invaluable with certain clients and projects. But if you’re looking for some new blood, a combination of enthusiasm and talent wins hands down.

I co-founded NB Studio in 1997, and worked as a designer and creative director until 2010. At that time the studio had a full time staff 9. Comprising of 3 creative directors, 1 project manager, 1 studio manager and 4 designers. In addition there were usually 1-2 interns, plus freelancers when needed. Staff turnover was generally very low and recruitment was usually through recommendation and internships. Since 2010 I have been working independently, exploring and enjoying the new ways organisations and audiences can communicate and build mutual devotion. At the moment I work with freelancers, as well as a network of other independent designers, developers, writers and design curators.