When you have an interview confirmed, whether that’s for a full time job, an internship or a graduate scheme, use this guide to make sure you are fully prepared on the day and in the aftermath.
Understanding the company is most important preparation. Knowing what the company does, their clients and what work they have produced will give you lots to talk about. (If you haven’t already done so follow our guide to researching companies). This should give you plenty of ammunition to form replies to any questions they may have.
Understanding who will be interviewing you on the day will also help. The following list will give you a good idea but for more, check out our guides for each specific role jobs in advertising, jobs in branding, jobs in design, jobs in marketing, jobs in media.
- Creative: Creative Director
- Accounts: Account Director/Manager
- Planner: Senior/Head of Planning
- Tech: CTO/Creative Director
- Design: Creative/Design Director
- PR: Publicist/Head of PR
If you’re still unsure where you fit into the agency read our industry guides to understand the different areas within an agency.
Don’t waste your time or anyone else's by going to an interview that you don't want the job for. Yes, it's good to get experience but it'll be a far greater experience if it's something you care about and put real effort into.
Have your questions ready
A curious mind goes a long way. It’s an important trait employers look for when hiring. So with all your research, you’ll probably have few things in mind that you didn’t find the answers to, along with a few things you’re just interested in.
To get you started, think of some questions along these lines:
- How does the team come together, are there many opportunities to collaborate across the company?
- What makes you guys different from other agencies?
- Where would you see me in three years time if I was performing well?
It never hurts to get a little practise in and have a family member or a friend to ask you some questions. Obviously this won't be the same as the real thing, but it will help you to figure out what it is you want to say. Your practice interviewer will also be able to observe your body language and help you get it right.
Wear something that's suitable to the role you are applying to. Accounts should look smart and professional as they have to meet with clients on a regular basis. Creatives, designers and developers, however, can turn up looking a bit more casual. If you get the chance, you can visit the agency before the day of the interview, stand outside and observe what other people are wearing to go to work there.
The most important thing is that the interviewer needs to feel like they can introduce you to their colleagues or clients. You can't look scruffy but super smart (e.g. a full suit) can also be off putting. Try and find a balance.
On the day
Take it easy on the day. You’ll already be hugely prepared so there’s no point going over everything again. It should now be ingrained in your mind.
Arrive nice n’ early. You should be nearby with 10 minutes to go but it's not worth going in until 5 minutes before you are due to meet. Most employers will be put off by you being late but if this does happen, don’t make excuses, be honest and apologise. Don’t linger on this, get over it and begin making a great impression.
Creating a conversation with those interviewing you is vital. Let the interviewer get across a couple of questions first, before asking any of your own.
Here are some general questions you may be asked no matter which role you're going for. But for more questions specific to your role, check out our other guides jobs in advertising, jobs in branding, jobs in design, jobs in marketing, jobs in media.
- Why are you interested in working here?
- How much do you know about the work we do?
- What’s your favourite piece of work? Why?
- Where would you like to be in five years time?
Don't ramble on. Try to keep you answers concise but don’t give one word answers either. Maintain eye contact during the interview as it shows that you are interested in what the interviewer has to say. It's not a staring contest but typically you will lock eyes when a person starts speaking.
There's a strong chance the employer will want to explain what they do, what the company does and talk about some upcoming work. You may also be told more about the team you would be working with. Jump in if there is something that interests you or something you want to understand further.
Finally, remember the questions you prepared and ask them with genuine interest and listen to the response. Always end the interview with a thank you, a handshake and clarify what the next steps are. Is there another interview? When should you expect to hear from them? Do you have each other's contact details?
At some interviews you may be given quick tour of the office or, in particular, the department you will work in. Introducing you to the team implies that the interviewer is really interested in you (they wouldn't bother otherwise). This will also be a test to see how you get on with the team, is there a connection?
Everyone gets nervous, especially when doing something for the first time. We've got some tips but over time you'll get less nervous. And remember, it's a form of excitement!
If you’re really nervous about the interview, think about a positive experience recently or imagine you’re talking to good friend. Simply smiling will help you become more positive, so put on a smile and you’ll notice a difference. It’s also important to breath slowly.
Unless the interviewer has requested otherwise, drop them a note on the same day to say thank you for their time and confirm the next steps you discussed with them.
Uh-oh... You've heard nothing by the deadline they mentioned. It’s important to reach out and get back in touch, usually companies will come back but sometimes a little nudge can help them get back quicker and shows again your true interest in a role. Give them a day or two and then send a polite reminder.
If you are offered the role, make sure you accept or decline it quickly. Ensure that your new employer knows when you are available to start, make sure you are happy with the salary and contract then go for it!
If you’re not given the role, ask the employer for feedback. It could be one of various reasons why you didn’t quite get the job and understanding the real reason will help you do better next time.