interior designer skills

What Firms Seek In An Interior Designer And Skills Overview

Ian Mutuli
Updated on

When it comes to hiring an Interior Designer, firms look for multiple skills and abilities from applicants. First and foremost, they are looking for people who are passionate about this line of work. Interior design is a highly professional career, but unlike other corporate careers, such as business, it is a highly creative field. As any artist will tell you, passion is the most important quality. 

It is what drives creativity. Firms are looking to hire people who live and breathe the brand. It has to come across in your cover letter, your resume, your work experience, and in everything you do. Passion or a lack of passion is the first thing that recruiters notice, so being skilled is not enough here. Part of that passion for interior design is keeping up to date on open positions at different firms or companies. 

Like with most modern-day job hunting, you can find interior design jobs through Lensa or similar job search engines. Now, before we get into the specifics of what skills firms look for, it is really important to know how to actually get into an interview. The way to do that is by having a great resume. These are just some basic tips, but if you can make your resume look great, get across the real passion you have, and master the upcoming skills, you have a shot at the best interior design firms in the world.

Resume

Not all resume requirements align with every single career. As interior designers, we want to highlight different things than a law firm associate on a resume. This seems obvious, but it's important to take note of because when searching online, be aware that most of the tips are targeted toward corporate jobs. Now, a resume should be one page and one page only. You don't need multiple pages outlining every job you have ever had, like when you were a server at 16. 

What recruiters need to know is the relevant experience (architecture jobs or marketing) that you have that helps contribute to a specific firm and why you're applying for this job. Another piece of advice is to use black text to make sure it's nice and clear, and easy to read. It's good to keep this tip in mind because interior design is a very creative and artistic field, so naturally, some people might think that they can reflect their creativity in the presentation of their resume. 

This is a cute idea, but remember, you are applying for a professional position in a professional setting, so your resume has to look the part. From there on, you want to add previous work experience that is relevant to interior design, where you graduated from, your license or certification that proves you have the safety awareness to conduct operations on a building site, technical abilities, and relevant soft skills.

Skills Overview

Cred: @spacejoy

Creativity & Attention to Detail

Design is an artistic career choice. Naturally, then, creativity is one of the most important skills for an interior designer. You need to be up to date with the latest trends and popular styles, understand how different spaces can be used, and also be able to come up with exciting and innovative ideas. Additionally, it is crucial to have a good eye for detail and understand colors, textures, and how to add finishing touches that can bring a space together. 

Unlike many artists, you won’t necessarily need to develop your own style. Instead, you'll adapt your vision to your client's needs and preferences. While it’s essential that you take on board your client’s requirements, you also get some creative leeway to come up with a design that exceeds their expectations.

Communication & People Skills

Strong communication skills are an absolute must when it comes to succeeding in interior design. You’ll need to frequently communicate your design intentions and why you think they’re an effective solution to your client’s problems. Even if you have a strong sense of vision, your clients may not. Accordingly, you need to be an active listener to understand their needs. 

You also need communication skills to translate concepts into approval-worthy proposals. Interior designers often work collaboratively, meaning you’ll be working alongside other designers from various disciplines, architects, contractors, engineers, manufacturers, marketers, and more.

Budgeting

Something that people often don’t know about interior designers is that the best of them can rival those with finance degrees. When you are working on an interior design project, you’re going to have to stick to a clear budget, which means you need to be comfortable working with numbers. You’ll need to be able to understand exactly how much each element of your plan will cost, from materials and labor to the cost of any delays in the work. 

Many clients will come to you with an idea and a budget. Often, the cost of the former will far exceed the latter. You'll have to find creative solutions to financial and design limitations. Budgeting skills will help you give them a realistic idea of what their money can buy. It’s important that you note down every cost, and timing, as well as keep receipts and invoices so that you can accurately bill your clients.

Organization & Time Management

In most fields of work, delivering work on time and under budget is a surefire way to make a great impression. The interior design industry is no exception. When you negotiate a project, you not only have to present a budget but also a realistic timeline. You’ll need organizational skills to give yourself and your clients a reasonable due date. 

You also need to coordinate with suppliers and contractors to ensure that they’re working to your schedule and that any issues or problems are resolved quickly. This means keeping your records up to date, responding to emails and phone calls, and keeping your client in the loop about how things are going. If the projects exceed the deadline or the resources, you will struggle to find repeat business so make sure you stick to a strict schedule and plan for unexpected delays, expenses, or any other surprises ahead of time. 

If you’ve got a creative mindset, a passion for interiors and decor, plus great spatial awareness, then becoming an interior designer could be a good career choice for you. Working as an interior designer entails collaborating with creative colleagues and industry professionals. At first, this industry might seem daunting as you need to juggle a laundry list of things, but don’t be too concerned. If you have the passion, possess some of these traits, and are willing to learn, you have great potential to succeed. 

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.