Your Interview

The ten golden rules for a successful interview.


  1. Prepare thoroughly. That usually involves doing two basic things: Firstly, research the company and find out as much as you can. They won’t expect you to know everything about them, but making an effort should impress. Secondly, ask whoever has arranged the interview (recruiter, HR person or perhaps the interviewer him/herself) to tell you as much as they can in advance about the meeting. Information is power. Find out how long you need to allow, what the format will be (group? panel? one-to-one?) and whether there are any specific requirements you need to comply with. If there is an assessment centre or psychometric testing involved, you may be able to prepare for it.
  1. Be punctual.Obvious of course, but make sure you check out travel delays, roadworks or train services etc. Leave plenty of time. There’s nothing more damaging to your composure than getting to an interview late or at the very last second.
  1. Dress code. Again it’s obvious but still needs emphasising. All marketing agencies – and even many major employers and large organisations – have dress down cultures nowadays. But for an interview you are always better to play safe and go suited and booted. It is usually different when attending interviews with recruiters (nowadays often held in coffee shops) but it is still worth checking dress code when any appointment is made.
  1. Manage your nerves.. If you are typically affected by interview nerves you have probably tried lots of solutions already, so what we say here is unlikely to add anything new. All we will recommend is that you take the pressure off yourself by remembering – and trying to ‘self-talk’ yourself into the fact – that it is only a job!
  1. Be yourself. Try not to set up too many barriers or put too much emphasis on changing your natural behaviour or opinions to succeed in an interview. Remember that more often than not it is the person that an employer buys. As much as anything else, they are asking themselves “will this person fit in to the team” and “can I see myself working with this candidate”.>
  1. Embrace assessment centres!Employers nowadays increasingly conduct group-participation interviews and assessment centres, which include personality tests and/or psychometrics (verbal and numeric reasoning exercises).  They are nothing to fear and can often be a lot of fun.   Remember that everyone is in the same boat and, once again, being yourself and being able to relax into the challenge will probably produce your best performance.
  1. Listen to the questionto the question. One of the most common interview shortcoming we encounter is the candidate’s urge to ‘get it all out’ – whether it be their experience (including every finite detail of what they did on a particular project) or, most commonly, too much information (justification) as to why they are seeking a new job. Make sure you listen to the interviewer’s question and try to address it with clear, succinct, relevant answers. If it’s an ‘open’ question – i.e. inviting you to talk at length – then do so, but try not to waffle or deviate from the subject.
  1. Know your CV – and your objectives.  Make sure you know what is on the page in front of your interviewer and expect to be grilled on any aspect of it – not just the bits you want them to discuss. And perhaps most importantly of all, make sure you know why you want this particular job, why you think you are the person for it and what your medium-term career goals are. All of these are standard questions.
  1. Take a (brief) portfolio.  Of course many marketing roles have a prominent creative aspect, so having a brief portfolio of your designs, campaign literature or published press articles can certainly be useful. And if you can demonstrate them on a tablet or laptop even better. But don’t overdo it. Remember that the interviewer probably has a tight agenda and specific time-slot for your meeting. Don’t hijack their interview process as that will only frustrate them. Ask if it is OK for you to show them a few examples of your work and don’t demand too much time You will probably have the floor for five minutes (max), especially in a first interview.
  1. Questions: Take the opportunity to ask appropriate questions IF you are invited to – but don’t do so just for the sake of it. And it’s generally prudent to avoid bringing up salary or benefits at a first interview.


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