Long post time, so either brace yourselves or skip. Whichever.
I just got back from my interview. It lasted more than an hour and a half, which is really encouraging. Another encouraging thing was that the guy I was interviewing with (the creative director) kept saying things like "we're looking for someone like you who can draw traditionally and has computer skills". He said that a couple different times... "we're looking for someone like you". Anyway, it felt good to hear that.
He said he got 80 resumes and was doing 20 interviews, then "a handful" of second interviews. The only truly discouraging thing was that I couldn't show any of the illustrations I had done for Iona, due to contracts I had signed when I left. He seemed to understand that and wasn't too concerned about it.
Anyway, the cool parts. This company seems like it would kick so much ass to work there. They're moving away from being a production house like Iona was and into being a creative consultant group. Their main focus was displays and packaging, and they need illustrators to mock up these displays and packages, as well as small product illustrations for the packages. Another cool thing is their clients. Holy Jesus, do they have awesome clients. Harley Davidson, Eureka vacuums, Panasonic, Sony... the list goes on. So, it's entirely possible that work I do for them could end up on the shelves at Wal-Mart or Target. Pretty cool stuff.
The interview just went really well. The things he mentioned about the company all seemed great. Everything I hated about Iona he hated too, and told me so without me volunteering anything. I know it's a bad idea to bad mouth a previous employer, but he had no problems doing it, then insuring me that this company was different. All good stuff. Everything was good. Great, even.
I didn't get a chance to talk salary or the vicious no compete clause I've heard about. That seems like a 2nd interview type thing. Anyway, it just went great.
The 2nd round of interviews happens after the holiday, and I hope I at least make it to the 2nd round. We'll see.