For the past 21 years I have worked in the exciting industry of marketing and advertising. I have been on the client side and worked for at least 9 different agencies. I have been in a lot of job interviews and have conducted even more and have learned from personal experience what to do and what not to do. Agency life is vastly different than client-side and switching to and successfully landing an agency job takes a different kind of person.
How do you get that ad agency job?
1. Don’t be nervous
Whether this is your first interview out of womb (college) or you really need a new job – keep your cool. There are plenty of other moments in life you should be nervous about (your wedding day, getting pulled over by the police, why is your mouth duct-taped) but a job interview is not one of them. If you get nervous and can’t help it, do a mock interview with a friend to get used to the questions and provide true responses. Agencies typically have panel interviews that can be intimidating so prepare accordingly. It’s only a job and nothing you should be too nervous about. As an interviewer, seeing someone who is nervous is not unusual and can be overlooked if you nail the other aspects of the interview.
2. Do your research
First or second question we often ask is, ‘What do you know about the Anvil (the agency)?’ Typical response is we are a digital agency. Thanks Captain Obvious, are you gonna tell me the color of the sky while you’re at it? An interviewer has a finite amount of time to meet with candidates. If you can’t answer this simple question then you have zero chance of getting the job. Save yourself some time and grief by researching the agency beyond their website. Google press releases, browse their social media channels, dig through their trash and learn something that shows you know how to get answers.
3. Don’t just be happy to be there
I have interviewed hundreds of people over the years and 75% of those I’ve interviewed are just happy to be there. Golly gee, they want to interview me, I wonder how much they will offer me? Many people stroll in and think they are automatically a finalist for the position, which is never the case. An interview is a means to getting the position. An agency wants to know your emotional intelligence, are you easy to work with or a high-maintenance underperformer, are you a contributor, a team player or looking for free snacks? Be prepared to answer questions that evaluate these attributes and be genuine in your answers.
4. Why should we hire you?
Interviewing for a job is competitive, not everyone gets a trophy let alone a job offer. 85% of the answers I get to the question, ‘Why should we hire you?’ are just about the candidate and what they want with no benefit to the agency:
‘I really like to learn and think I can learn a lot here’ – Where’s the benefit to the agency?
‘I really think I can grow and help out’ – How?
‘I’m a sponge and really love learning’ – See a pattern here?
These are all throw away answers with no benefit to the agency. Agencies want to hear you have some gumption, passion for what you do and what you bring to the agency. When you hear this question, they are really asking – how will you be an asset to the agency and can you communicate it clearly and succinctly? If you can do this you have a shot at the job.
5. Ask good questions
Note I stated to ask ‘good’ questions. There are such things as dumb questions in an interview and they will cost you the job. Don’t ask questions about the agency you can find on their website, here’s a sample of some beauties I’ve been asked:
‘How long have you been in business?’
‘Who are your clients?’
‘What services do you provide?’
‘What are my chances of getting this position?’
Questions to ask include:
‘How did this position become available?’ – The answer can tell you many things, someone got promoted, the agency is growing, etc. Shows you are curious about more than just landing the job.
‘What are the specific strengths needed to succeed in this position and at the agency?’
‘How would you describe the agency culture?’
‘What specific clients will I work on if I get the position?’
6. Follow up
Once you finish the interview, shake hands and say your goodbyes – all is not done. If you really want the job you need to follow-up with the person or people who interviewed you. Sounds like common sense but common sense does not exist these days. Email is fast and easy but still less than 50% of candidates’ follow-up. If you want to be remembered and make an impression send a personalized snail mail thank you card. If you did all the things listed above, this note will make you a finalist for the position.
Now that you are prepared to land your agency interview, check out Anvil’s career page for open positions!