Interview tips

Finally you’ve got your application in and you’ve got the anxious wait for an answer. You stare blinking at your email inbox for minutes, hours sometimes. Clicking refresh brings only disappointment with unwanted junk mail from Chinese electrical companies. Then just when you have lost all hope of meaningful and have started filling out forms for the armed forces (I was getting desperate), you get an email from an agency inviting you for an interview.

First of all, before I go into tips, well done. The competition is incredibly fierce. A respected London agency with a graduate scheme will normally get at least 500 applications. For you to be invited into the building means that people are impressed with you, and more importantly, believe that you can do the job.

After the excitement has died down, it’s time to get to work. Research is a basic skill that is expected from both trainee account men and planners. If you turn up at your interview not knowing what brands the agency works with and what the culture is like, you can’t expect to get a job. The internet has made our lives a lot more simple, you can find everything you need and more. It’s not a case of cramming, it’s more about topping up the knowledge you should already have. Interviewers aren’t expecting the finished product, if they were there would be little point in starting a grad scheme.

You’ve done your homework and are wondering what to expect from the day. The first thing I would stress to you is don’t be too nervous. Leo Burnett is characterised by its friendly atmosphere. You will arrive at reception and you will see a relatively nervous collection of people you will interview with. Sit down and make friends with them. There is absolutely no point in going in with your own agenda, it shows that you are incapable of being collaborative, and thus completely unsuitable for advertising.

Interviews can be exhausting, but they can also be enjoyable. Most people quite like talking about themselves, and for this one day you are being actively encouraged to do it for a whole day. When you are meeting people, whether that is the head of account management or a senior planner, try to be enthusiastic. Also treat it as a learning experience, find out from them how they got into advertising and what they love about their own jobs.

If you are brought in for an interview, there is a good chance that you will be set a group task. This can be quite daunting. You are expected to come up with a solid solution to a live brief with a group of strangers. Sometimes the group dynamic works. I was lucky, I got Charlie and Rachel in mine. Sometimes, it can be a bit tougher. People can sometimes try to out shout or out manoeuvre each other. I would strongly advise you to try not to do this. The group interview is a microcosm of what it’s like to work in advertising on a daily basis. Differing personalities, differing agendas and differing outlooks all working for a common goal.

Finally, housekeeping points which I didn’t have a clue about when I started going to advertising interviews. What do I wear? On my first interview I ever attended I wore a suit and a tie. I would advise against this. For girls and boys, go for smart casual and you can’t go too far wrong. Also, make sure you can be early if you can possibly can. Getting to West Kensington is never easy at the best of times, never mind when you are already nervous. Try to leave yourself a 10/20 minute gap and you will be fine!

Good luck and we’re all looking forward to meeting you over the next few weeks.

Jonathan

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