The alarm goes off and you slap it till it shuts up. Bleary eyed and almost excited, you get up and stumble to the bathroom to start the day. Today is the day. No not your wedding day, MUCH more important than that. Today you have your first interview for grad training at an ad agency.
Before anyone asks there is no real right or wrong way to dress for these, we’ve been suited and booted and then had some ginger haired kid march in wearing a jumper as if from Worzel Gummidge…he didn’t out flank us but still, he was in the running….for a bit. The rule of safe thumb is guys wear a suit, shoes and a shirt but with no tie and ladies dress as smartly and as eclectic as they like.
Now the Brand Republic forums have been alight with questions like ‘I’ve got an interview at x, y, z, what will they ask me?!?!?!’. First off, I have a feeling they’ll ask you about ads, lots of questions. Just a hunch though.
In all seriousness most first interviews are pretty standard in terms of what they, the big bad agency are trying to figure out. They want to know if you, the esteemed applicant is what they thought your application was.
So what can you do? Here is the AdLads step by step checklist for interview bad-assness
1) Maybe the most important thing is read your application form. All of it. More than once. And not just on the day of the interview as you’re on the tube in.
2) Have 3 good ads and 3 bad ads in your mind.
3) Have a read of their website and the industry rags for mentions of current happenings, so if you they ask you ‘What do you know about us’ you actually have something to say.
4) Try and watch as much of their recent work you can, and think about whether you think it works / not.
5) Build a structure to how you critique an ad campaign. Quick easy steps are:
The Creative Rationale: Why does this work? Is it funny? Why is it funny? Is the target funny? Is it removed from competition in the same sector?
Is the idea campaign-able? i.e. does the overall idea work in different mediums other than just TV. E.g. Dr Pepper’s creative idea was ‘try it’ due to a consumer insight that everyone played it safe with just Pepsi. So this gave birth to the idea ‘Dr Pepper, What’s the worst that can happen’. That idea works on TV, Radio, Press, Print, Ambient and Digital.
The selling proposition: Where is the client’s business now? How will this build on the client’s business? Is itto steal market share, create market share, generate awareness or speak to an already loyal consumer base
The point here is that it’s quite hard to structure a critique of advertising unless someone hands you a structure. The above is used in the agency one of us works in and is quite a sound foundation to start talking about ads
As a footnote to any discussion about ads, there are certain specific things to talk about. Don’t say you don’t like it as you may not be the target. Always justify your opinions as deeply as you can.
So that covers the ad talk, what about the general getting to know you stuff? What do you do then? The easiest and most right answer is just be yourself. Seriously. It’s well known that individual agencies have individual cultures etc, but that by no means means (how many times can I use means in this sentence?) that you should try and conform to a type. Go in, be yourself, and do your best. Chances are if you’re well informed, enthusiastic about ads and able to back up your opinions you’ll get through. And if you don’t, it honestly is the agency’s loss. So don’t mope around, ring them up and ask for feedback, if it’s something wrong with you specifically you can fix it, if they come up with some fluffy ‘you’re not the right person for us’ crap then they don’t know what they want out of their grads, and you’re too driven for them (they wouldn’t be able to handle you). Before I go off on a rant, it’s blatantly obvious that some agencies are happy to have ‘yes’ people droning around, hiding under catch phrases that tell you nothing about anything. Don’t be a lemming. If you can stick to that, you’ll go far.
That’s the first careers related post done, comments as always are welcome. More career related posts are in the AdLads pipeline. Stay tuned…