Just an Old-Fashioned Interview If You Please

By Guest Blogger Phil Bressler, Owner/Partner at Muller Bressler Brown

In our business, one driven so much by people and talent, it makes sense to always be on the lookout for creative and passionate candidates. Not that we don't have an incredibly talented team at the agency (we do!), but it just makes sense to be prepared for little things like the next big account win or normal changes that life brings.

As a partner in the agency, I also feel that it's my responsibility to give back in a small way by meeting with students and those starting out in the business as much as I can. I'm pretty sure by now I've mastered the art of the "informational interview." However, what strikes me these days, and I feel this way a lot, is either how old-fashioned I am when it comes to interviewing skills or how unprepared a large number of these kids really are. Believe it or not, by doing what I always thought were the normal and expected things in an interview, you'll actually stand out these days if you pay attention to the basics. Several things that always stand out:

  1. Be on time. In my book, early is the new on time. Sit in your car if you have to. Text your mom and tell her how pumped you are for the interview. Read a newspaper before they're extinct. Do anything. Just don't be late.
  2. Dress professionally. It's advertising. We wear jeans, we wear black, we often times don't even really match. But don't forget, you're still interviewing. Dress for success and make a great first impression.
  3. Sit up tall. I can't tell you how many interviewees slouch down in the chair and talk like we're just hangin' at Starbucks. Is this how you'll be with our clients?
  4. Have questions ready. Think on your feet and come up with related questions during the interview. How about, "where do you see this company in five years?" Anything. Please! The number one response I get to "So, do you have any questions for me?" "No, not really. I found out everything I need to know on your website." There's a buzz kill.
  5. Curiosity. Maybe my own pet peeve, but to succeed in advertising, I believe it's critical to know a lot about a lot of things. I'm not saying you have to be Einstein in any of them, but be aware, know what's going on in the world, play Trivial Pursuit. It will make you smarter.
  6. Send a handwritten thank you note. OK, I know that's the most old-fashioned idea of all, but it matters and it makes a difference. Most people have lost the art of thank you notes so if you do send one, you'll be that much further ahead. Say thanks, but also remind me what makes you special and why I should hire you.

I could go on, but attention spans are short these days. Perhaps these six suggestions will make a difference to someone. They do to me.

If the rules of interviewing have changed, and I've just become a grumpy old man without knowing it, someone please enlighten me. I'm all ears.