There are five things you might want to know first.
Hooray, it’s summer and the economy is improving (at least in our industry, in our city). And our agency is lucky enough to be one that’s growing and hiring, which means that we’ve been spending lots of time over the past few months meeting and interviewing potential candidates. Having spent countless hours meeting with some really great and talented professionals has led me to think, “what makes a great interview versus a so-so one?”
Certainly chemistry is one factor – there are just some people with whom you feel an immediate and natural connection (which leads me to my other ‘tribes’ hypothesis, but that’s for another day), but what else can an interviewing candidate do to prepare for an interview with our firm? Because I’ve got a short attention span, I’ve boiled down some suggestions into a “top 5 list”. Keep in mind that this is for a potential account position (sorry creatives – your prepping for an interview is a totally different topic). I hope that someone finds them valuable (and if you don’t you should contact me and tell me so!)
1. Talk to me about MARKETING, not advertising.
One of the golden rules of putting on a successful performance is to know your audience. Same goes for anyone that’s looking to be hired – we are an integrated marketing firm. Advertising is only one component of what we do. Want to pique my interest? Tell me about impactful sales support materials, or public relations (which includes social media in my book). Talk to me about market research informing an outreach campaign, or better yet, a pricing strategy. It’s all marketing and in many cases the more mundane activities are what makes the difference for our clients– so don’t just focus on the glitzy stuff.
2. Remember, you’re interviewing me too.
Yes, you want to know what the job will entail, what it will require of you, what the people who you’ll be working with are like and if this will be a place where you’ll be able to grow and be challenged doing interesting and fun work. The best way to find that out is by asking me about my experience. I work here now – and have been here for a long time – why is that? What do I like about the job? What do I find most challenging? What is the agency’s history with this client, and what would the client say about the agency? Where is the agency currently failing this client? Get me to open up to you about these details and odds are you’ll get your questions answered and more – you’ll get a better sense of how well you will fit within the agency.
3. Demonstrate enthusiasm about the small stuff.
Yes, we have some excellent clients that challenge us, keep us on our toes and allow us to do some really good solid marketing with them. But we’re also a mid-sized agency with 43 people and because we’re integrated, we really do believe that everyone makes a contribution at every level. The truth is at some point, every week, I’m spending some time reviewing status reports and spreadsheets, reviewing layouts and sending countless emails to clients reminding them about what we need to get done right now. Show me that you’re organized, that no job is too small and that you understand that the devil truly is in the details, which is why you devote such energy to mastering them. Remember, thinking strategically happens when you’ve got a good sense of the details that need to happen to make the strategy work. Big picture thinking + Attention to the smallest detail = someone I want to work with.
4. Follow up quickly.
We met. We chatted. Seems like the interview went well. Be sure and follow up with a thank you and do so quickly. With this economy, we often hire as soon as we can – make sure that you’re not overlooked because you waited to get that thank you note out. A follow up email the day of the interview keeps you top of mind, but one request – be sure you spell check it. Seriously. Typos in your resume, cover letter or thank you email really do major damage to your credibility.
5. Be flexible.
We’re small. We put our clients’ needs first. Which means that the people we hire are best at being able to adapt with them. Want a career in which you can grow? Start thinking now about what that means – where are you most passionate (about marketing) and how can you apply that to a job here? Convey that flexibility to me – that you want to invest somewhere, be part of a team and have the attitude that you know and will do what it takes to be successful and I can almost guarantee that I’d want to bring you back for a second interview. I’ve hired folks without traditional marketing backgrounds because of their great attitudes and willingness to learn – and you know what? In most cases they’ve been really great hires.