In any interview, the key to success is preparation. However, if you’re interviewing at a creative agency, you need to prepare a little differently from if you were going for an in-house marketing job. Shelley Crane, senior manager at recruitment agency Robert Half Marketing & Creative, has helped us put together seven questions you should ask – and answer – before you sit down with a creative agency…
1. What industries does the agency cater to?
Many creative agencies specialise in work for a few select industries. To learn which industries your interviewer targets, check out the mission statement on its website, look up its client roster and carefully review recent work samples. Prepare for your interview by researching those key industries and highlighting the most relevant work you've done.
2. What type of work does it do?
Most agencies are multidisciplinary and address a client's overall branding. However, they usually specialise in specific aspects of marketing, advertising or corporate communications. When preparing for an interview, look for patterns. Does the agency do more print or digital work? Is it known for a particular discipline, such as social media advertising or events? Once you've determined its focus, show how your expertise will help to enhance its offering for clients. Include supporting examples in your portfolio.
3. How big is the team?
Size matters. Although the core responsibilities may be the same, a creative role at a 10-person agency can differ greatly from one at somewhere with a staff of 100. “A smaller agency is likely to have fewer layers of management, which impacts reporting, approvals and growth potential. Each person will also ‘wear more hats’ at smaller agencies,” says Crane. Highlight your expertise or level of comfort with the relevant type of agency or, if you have any concerns, work them into the interview conversation.
4. Who does the position report to?
At an agency, you're more likely to report to the owner or someone in a creative role, rather than a non-creative person in a corporate position. It's important to clarify this point because it shapes your conversation about performance reviews, career development and even salary structure.
5. Who will be the interviewer?
Try to find out who your interviewer will be. A specialist recruitment consultant will always give you this information. This way you can tailor your responses accordingly, especially while presenting your portfolio. “We advise our candidates to consider the language they would use when talking about their work with HR - as opposed to a creative director - so they can highlight the areas those involved in the hiring process will be measuring,” says Crane. “But our best advice is to make any conversation results-driven.”
6. What's the corporate culture like?
Get a sense of the office culture before your interview, so you can dress appropriately. Look for clues in staff photos on the company's website and social media pages, or ask your recruitment consultant for their views. “Even if the agency has a casual dress policy that embraces jeans and a t-shirt, you should dress neatly and professionally for the interview,” says Crane. “Granted a suit may be too far, but you should look polished to make a good impression.”
7. What soft skills are most important to the position?
Be ready to demonstrate strong communication, collaboration and problem-solving abilities during interviews. "Working at an agency can mean managing multiple clients at once, and shifting gears quickly when needs change suddenly or projects arrive unexpectedly,” says Crane. “Employers are looking for candidates who can jump from task to task in high-pressure, fast-paced environments. Being adaptable, outgoing and customer service-oriented are also essential for thriving in an agency setting.”
If you can answer these eight questions before you head into your interview, you will show your interviewer that you've taken the time to understand their agency’s mission, niche and culture. This will help you stand out from rival candidates for the position you want.
If you can indeed answer these questions, then maybe it's time to start your job search now. Find out more about what CIM marketing jobs has to offer