The year has just begun, but that doesn't mean that agencies haven't already started looking for interns and entry level employees to join them at the end of the spring semester. With that in mind, it's time to update the ol' resume and start thinking about ways to sharpen your interviewing skills.
For most people, this usually means preparing for tricky questions regarding past work experiences, figuring out strategic answers to the "greatest weakness" question, or thinking back on ways they've succeeded in challenging situations. Funny enough though, the details that tend to stick in the minds of most hiring managers (or at least the ones I know) following an interview with a candidate are the common sense things that every candidate should do, every time.
According to them, it's not so much about having the absolute perfect experience or response for an interviewer's question — but the thought, confidence and honesty that goes into the answer.
Employers want to see that you care enough about the opportunity to interview and the possibility of working at the company to be well prepared. These are things that seasoned interviewers do well and also what separates them from the pack.
Here are some things that matter to our hiring team when evaluating a potential future coworker.
Know something about the agency and position you're interviewing for. Don't be a kiss-up, but be familiar with their work and know enough about the company to ask intelligent questions. Plan on being a little early to the interview in case you get delayed. Team members are usually squeezing the interview into an already busy day, so showing up 5 or 10 minutes late not only looks bad, it nets you less time to discuss your qualifications.
Be Honest... and Positive
Have an honest conversation. Avoid giving answers that you think the interviewer wants to hear. Be confident in your abilities but upfront about your experience and skills – they'll respect you for it. In the end, you'll only be hurting yourself by not being honest.
If you're leaving a job due to frustrations working there, mention it in brief but stay positive. An interview is not the time to vent about your current situation. Instead, be respectful of the people you've worked with and projects you've done, and twist those negative thoughts into qualities that you are looking for in a future position.
Come prepared with a few questions for the hiring manager. The meeting is also a time for you to interview the agency, to make sure they're a good fit for you as well. Even if you think they've touched on everything you need to know, ask a few questions about the culture and how work gets done. People without questions seem uninterested and indifferent, and that can be a deal breaker.
Send a Follow Up
Sending a personal follow-up email thanking the person you met for their time is a must. Make it short, sweet and personal (tie it back to a question or area that you particularly enjoyed learning about the company). This is easy to do, and a well thought-out follow up can sometimes make up for a mediocre interview.
Talk About Your Non-Professional Self
Lastly, have a couple things to talk about besides the job you're applying for. Employers, especially in a creative field, want to see that you have passions and hobbies outside of work. The person interviewing you wants the conversation to be natural and to hear your enthusiasm and energy come through.
You got your foot in the door with a great resume and a convincing cover letter, so don't forget the small stuff when it comes to sealing the deal in the interview.
About the Author
Brett Swanson is the Team Development Director at Firstborn, a creative and technology company in New York City. Starting at the agency as an intern, he spent five years creating award-winning digital experiences through his work as a 3D artist, motion graphics designer and audio engineer. The University of Florida grad is now focused on growing the agencies' innovative creative, strategy, production and technology teams.