Like moving house, getting married, and waiting to be seated at a Peruvian Street Food Pop up, interviews are inherently stressful situations.  In any stressful situation – unless you’re a Navy Seal – you might forget what, before, would have been automatic.

If you are a Navy Seal; you’re probably on the wrong web page.  If you’re not, read on, but look up Navy Seals later; they are seriously cool.

1) Prepare for sector specific related competency questions

Common corkers include:

Give an example of a difficult client/project; how did you overcome the challenges?

Describe a time when you had a tight or unrealistic deadline set by the client.  What did you do?

Describe a project where you were an integral part of the team.  How did you contribute and why was your presence essential?

Have you every taken part in an assault of an enemy warship? Sorry, Navy Seals again..

Give an example of a time when you have implemented change.

Describe a success you’ve had as a manager.  When? How? Why? Who?

There is a theme to these, you need examples ready in your head, what was the situation and what action did you take?  Make sure to keep your answers simple, communicate them effectively, and do not stray from the question.

Above all, it’s important that the result is positive and your input was key in the outcome.

2) Make sure your writing skills are tip top 

From entry level through to Director, you will be writing copy day in and day out.  Most companies these days will give you a writing test in the interview process, although it’s your day to day job, is it something you are prepared for?

The most common test is to write a press release based on a brief usually about 1 A4 page in length.  There are lots of great example tests online which you can download and practice on the lead up to that interview.  A lot of the time, the manager will not be marking the test based on its content/creativity, it’s more likely being judged on spelling, punctuation and grammar.  As well as making sure you understood the brief / task you were given.

3) Don’t interrogate the interviewer but do ask plenty of questions

Show you’re engaged and show your interest, interviews have changed a great deal from what they were 20 years ago, the formal structure is becoming less common in an agency or client environment.  They are fluid conversations with lots of back and forth; so don’t just sit there with a blank face waiting for their next question.

Don’t be afraid of writing a list of questions and getting it out at the end of the interview.  They will be impressed that you prepared and that you leave nothing to chance.  Don’t laminate it though; there’s a limit and that will overshoot it by an order of magnitude.

4) Make sure your CV is not fire and forget

Like our first novel we tend to write our CV once and then forget about it.  We send it to some friends for feedback and then unleash it on an unsuspecting world; quickly forgetting what it says.  Remember though, up until meeting you, this is all the hiring manager has had to go on.  Refresh your memory of every last claim you make, they’ll have it fresh in their head so you should!  Don’t be consigned to history like a poorly prepared Apprentice contestant; dust off your CV and become an expert on yourself.

5) Be Positive; no one likes a buzz kill

Sometimes the margin for error is that small that a smile at the end of an interview will seal it for you.  You may of answered everything right but the hiring manager will need to know that you can act human in front of their best client.

Believe in yourself and be your best self.

6) Dress for Success

It’s rare to find an agency or company that require you to be suited and booted on a daily basis; but you can still look smart without the suit.  Wear your best clobber to past muster.  If in doubt ask your recruiter or HR contact.  Overdressing will make you feel uncomfortable and undressing will make you look rude.  Do your research; professional bearing is important and turnout is a key element in this.

7) Time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted…

Do your research.  What brands do they work on?  Who are their clients?  Who are their target audience?  Have they won any awards?  Why is their logo a picture of a cat?   What kind of cat is it?  All weighty and important stuff no more than a Google away.  There’s no excuse for not doing your homework.

8) Show up on Time

Punctuality is one of the most common make or breaks for interviews.  Not making it will break it.  Research the location long before your interview day, even do a test run to their offices a few days before where possible.  As a general rule, 15 minutes early to the interview looks good, any earlier and you may look desperate or just be a huge inconvenience to the hiring manager you are due to meet.  Good timekeeping is about showing respect and it’s a cast iron opportunity to start on a good note.

Now over to you; you’re awesome, make it happen!

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