I’ve learned that most Digital, Marketing & Advertising Agencies use the first stage of an interview to assess a candidate’s cultural fit. Every agency is proud of the unique culture they’ve created and want to make sure that whoever joins them can live and breathe that culture. Gone are the days when interviewing for a job is solely based on whether you have a particular skillset or a pertinent degree for example. Agencies in this day and age need to know that you will not just become another employee, but a valuable member of their family and culture. I’ve worked closely with owner-managed Agencies over the past couple of years; I’ve gained some valuable insights on what they expect from candidates during the interview process and I am going to share that with you today.
The first stage as mentioned is all about cultural fit. Usually it will be an informal run through of your CV and experience. They will present the role and expectations to you, give an overview of the history of the agency and what they stand for and most importantly, what their over-arching purpose is. This is a great chance for you to extract as much information from the agency as you can but also the opportunity to form a valuable bond with them.
The second stage, tends to be a more in-depth discussion of your personal experience, perhaps you will meet with various other employees who will be able to share their experiences and offer different perspectives of what life is like at the agency. Depending on the role, you may be required to prepare a presentation- usually the agency gives you a brief to prepare for beforehand- or a technical test to understand your capabilities.
Then, finally the chemistry test……..or the alcohol test. This normally involves going in to meet the team for a coffee or going down to the pub for a social!
So, how and what do you need to prepare?
Step one for the first stage is Research. Hint – it’s what you know about who that counts!You’d be very silly to turn up to an interview without having done any research whatsoever (although believe it or not, some people do!).Key points that you should always prepare on are:
1. Who you’re seeing: This will mean a good review of their linked in profile and background. This gives you the opportunity to form that valuable bond and see what common grounds you share with them. If for instance you both attended the same University, you can start by talking about this, creating a much more relaxed atmosphere and form an immediate connection with them.
2. Portfolio:People love visuals and what a great opportunity to showcase work you are particularly proud of! If you have the opportunity bring some examples of your work. This shows initiative as well as the chance to show off what you’re capable of, a platform to talk passionately about what you’ve done and the results you got.
3. Key Questions: Remember that during the initial stage it is crucial that you find out as much information as possible and figure out whether your experience/ the role aligns not only with what the agency are seeking but also with what you are looking for. A key question that you should ask any employer during your first meeting is what is the agencies vision, key values, purpose and culture? This gives you the chance to learn about the journey you could potentially be a part of.
4. What can you bring to the company? Employers usually ask ‘why do you want to join?’ or ‘what value can you add to our company?’ I cannot emphasis how important it is to be prepared for these questions. This is your chance to shine and to sell yourself to the agency. Think of it as an elevator pitch, you need to make it clear why you are the right person for this role and what benefit that will be for them.
Other things to take note of: • Today, most agencies dress-codes are fairly informal and normally ‘smart-casual’. If it is an Agency you are interviewing at I would strongly suggest not turning up in a suit and tie! Perhaps something a tad smarter than what they would usually wear on a day to day basis would be more appropriate instead. Luckily, in modern day society we have the likes of social media to look up agencies Instagram or Facebook for example to see what their attire is on a daily basis!• Make sure you’re on time; arrive about 10 minutes early if you can. This shows good punctuality.• Finally – and if you’re going to take anything from this it needs to be this – send a follow up email after your meeting. Get the email address of the person you met and send them a friendly note. Something along the lines of ‘It was great to meet you today, thanks for taking the time out to speak with me’ is ideal.
Then that’s it. You’ve done everything you can and it’s the anxious wait. Should you get the role, that’s fantastic! However, if you are unsuccessful ask for feedback. This will only help you further down the line when you are interviewing with other companies.
Interested in a new role within an Agency environment? Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org in our London office or email@example.com if you are in the North West to see how we can help with your next career move.