Tuesday, 13 November 2007

The 1st Conversation

Would you hire this guy? Probably not...(weird eyes courtesy of bad red-eye reduction)

Something I say quite often is every first conversation is an interview. Now I don't know where I got that from but we are now officially in interview season with Raineys interviewing people as I type this up (in the middle of a finance lecture).

So you have an interview, how do you prepare? Let's talk about some general things first, like appearance. More specifically, what do you wear? For guys a safe bet is either the suit/shirt look or a combo of trousers/blazer (and shirt please). But we'd say no ties, this ain't a banking interview y'all. Girls have it easier (or harder, depending on who you ask) with the general 'look smart' mantra.

Now we know how you look, what's it going to be like? Generally first round interviews will be conducted by 2 members of the agency and they'll last between 30 minutes and an hour. You might get a good cop / bad cop routine, you might get no cops or you might get we'renotreallysurewearecopssolet'sseewhatthisfoolknows. But you can't control that.

What you can control is your research. This is where I go to numbers:
  1. Read your application form at least enough times for you to virtually memorise what you wrote. And remember why you wrote what you did.
  2. Have some answers to these questions ready
    • Why do you want to get into advertising?
    • What's the coolest / most iconic thing in your world and why?
    • What advertising do you admire and why?
    • Which brand's ads aren't doing it justice?
    • How do you see the futures of TV and digital advertising?
    • What is a brand?
  3. Be ready to have to sell an ad to your interviewers, think about:
    • What the brand is trying to say, what are they trying to achieve with the ad?
    • Who they should be talking to? Are they talking to them?
    • How effective is their conversation with the person paying attention?
    • Why does it work? Is it funny? Is it totally removed from the competition?
    • Is the idea transferable across different channels?
    • How will it build upon where the client is right now business-wise? Do they want to create market share? steal market share or maintain their lead?
  4. Watch their showreel on their site, soak in as much as you can about their site and head over to visit4info to watch ads they've created that may not be on their showreel.
  5. Give yourself an hour's margin when traveling long distance, it gives you time to compose yourself when you get there, rather than crapping yourself that you're late.
  6. Have some questions for them. But don't ask questions for things that are on their website or you'll get shot down. Ask them about what they think about one of their questions, or about how they see advertising changing in the future. Having a well thought question could be the thing that makes you stick in their minds when it's time to make the cuts (Thanks to Alex for this point).
And finally, the most important, crucial and underlying thing that will dictate your success in your interviews is being yourself. Try to relax and answer the non-advertising questions as normally as possible (obviously there are some boundaries, if you swear like a sailor put a sock in it, or use replacement words). And be yourself. Be confident that being yourself will get you the job. Seriously.

It’s well known that individual agencies have individual cultures etc, but that by no means means (how many times can I use means in this sentence?) that you should try and conform to a type. Go in and do your best. Chances are if you’re well informed, enthusiastic about ads and able to back up your opinions you’ll get through.

And if you don’t? It's the agency’s loss. So don’t mope around, ring them up and ask for feedback, if it’s something wrong with the way you delivered your answers, you can fix it. But if they say you're not the right type, move on. Don’t try to be their type - because eventually you'll find out it's hurting you and them.

This is the part where I'd like to end up on something profound. But I'll defer to Anton who told me a while back: 'Don't be a lemming'. That pretty much says it all.

As always comments/criticism/abuse are welcome.



Jack Bauer said...

I'd add to always be armed with a few questions of your own.

Tried this a few times and they are often surprised that I actually wanted to know something else...

perhaps you could ask them if they would kindly share their ideas on the questions they have asked you - what do YOU think is the greatest threat to advertising then?

Maybe you have a few questions about one of their recent campaigns?

Good luck Sammy - you really have no excuse..

The AdLads said...

Noted. Def a good point that I missed, have amended the post.

No pressure on me then Alex :)


Anonymous said...

Go on son...and if they don't give it to you we'll bite their noses off



Kate said...

Hi Sam- we met at JWT open day. I read your RKCR app (you showed it to me on your laptop) and I'm pleased you got an interview in the end because it was a good one, even though you said it'd depend on who read it! Glad it was the right person. Good luck and cheers for all your work on this blog- I hope to meet you again in adland!

The AdLads said...

Hey Kate thanks for the kind words, I remember you telling everyone about your Oxford shenanigans and Facebook!

I guess I got lucky with RCKR app, hope applications are going well for you, keep reading the blog and ask any questions you have!


James McKeown said...

Great stuff Sam. I've just come across AdGrads this past week and am impressed. Not sure why you're not all being head-hunted! Personally I'm also applying for marketing grad schemes in bog-standard businesses (as odds are slightly more favourable), but as your blog depicts so well, ad agencies are the place to be.

The AdLads said...

Thanks for stopping by James, I worked for a year client side for my placement, and for me agency side is the place to be. But some of the schemes run by the likes of Unilever and P&G do look pretty awesome with the variety they offer.

Regardless of where you apply, I hope you keep reading and are (hopefully) able to take some good stuff away from us.

Thanks again.


MaryClare said...

I'm so relieved to have found this blog! I have an interview at Ogilvy on wednesday and will bear these tips in mind. Wish me luck...


Styleisee said...

great blog, sensible tips, nice one Sam.

Rob said...

This is right on the money, thanks for the help! got an interview next week and consider myself lucky to read this. Thanks.

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