Interview Prep: Advice From Fresh Faces

Interview prep: advice from fresh faces

We're in the thick of interviewing season—the nerves, sweaty-palm handshakes, and general anxiety of feeling like this is your one shot. It felt like a good time to reach out to some fresh faces—those 1-2 years into their careers—for thoughts on the hardest interview questions they were asked, and questions they asked to help them land their jobs. Integrate their tips into your prep, and face your next round of interviews with confidence.

Mai Nishishiba, Strategist at Wunderman, Boston University '16

1) What was the toughest question you were asked in an interview? How did you respond? 
I was applying for entry-level strategy positions within marcom, so the toughest questions were definitely specific strategy questions: Apple TV currently has a problem; they're not doing well compared to other Apple products. What's the problem and how can we solve it? 

To be honest, I completely butchered the question, and I don't think I was able to give a concise answer. I just made up something right on the spot, and I think interviewers know when you're just making up the answer as you go. It was a great lesson, and now that I reflect back on it, I would do more prep work and study any of the brands or products that these agencies are working on. Know what the company does inside and out, and understand what they're doing in the market as well. 

2) What was the most helpful question you asked in an interview?
A lot of the times, agencies give the names of the people you're interviewing with, so I did a little research about them beforehand. I usually like to ask about their experience and background, so I get a better idea of what kind of person they are and the kind of work they've done. I'm genuinely curious because everyone's career path is different, and I think it shows that you've done your research and makes you look like a great hire. Because at the end of the day, who doesn't like talking about themselves? 

Keep up with Mai on Instagram.

Eric Rogers, Associate Art Director at DigitasLBi, Marquette University '16

1) What was the toughest question you were asked in an interview? How did you respond? 
The toughest question was—what is your biggest weakness? The question itself wasn't unexpected. However throughout the interview, the question was re-asked several times and was framed in different ways. Each time they asked me to expand a bit more and fully flesh out my answers in a way I wasn't prepared to do. The actual interview went well, but I was thrown off to be asked the same question in varying forms. It seemed like they weren't asking to be deceitful either—they were genuinely curious about my perspectives about my weaknesses professionally. 

2) What was the most helpful question you asked in an interview?
I have two. I asked about workflow and while explaining, the interviewer revealed that since I'd be the only junior on the team, they would work with me to make sure I'm learning and have enough time to complete assignments. It was an innocuous question, but it let me know that Digitas was the right place for me, because it afforded me the opportunity to continue to learn and grow.

The second best question I've asked was actually about a music poster in the interviewer's office. I'm a big hip hop fan, and I noticed an album cover or a poster in his office, and found out that the person I was interviewing with was also a photographer and a concert photographer. I myself am both of those things, and I think that the conversation that spurred from that moment allowed us to get to know each other on a more personal level, and let the rest of the interview feel much more relaxed.

Peep some of Eric's dope concert photos on Instagram and thoughts on Twitter.

Alisa Olinova, Art Director at verynice, Cal State University Long Beach '13

Ok, technically Alisa is a little further along in her career, but she had some great tips on interviewing in Episode 4 of We Are Next Live

"It's likely that they've already seen your portfolio, so unless they ask, you shouldn't just walk in and be like, okay this is my portfolio, this is this, this is this. It's really great to take that time in your meeting to show people not what's there, but what's not there. Things that are more about your process, if it was a collaboration, etc."

Hear more from Alisa in Episode 4 and follow her on Instagram. Follow the verynice team on Facebook.

One last thing—make sure you send a thank you note via email by the end of that same day. Timing is important—no need to worry about having zero chill. If you met with multiple people, make sure you send one to everyone individually. Team's talk and there's nothing more telling than when only the most senior get a thank you. Balance making the email a quick read with communicating what you took away from the interview, or any follow-up questions you have. Style points for a hand-written thank you card sent to arrive a couple days later—not necessary, but sometimes snail mail in a digital world goes a long way. 

With the right balance of being prepared, but relaxed (as best as you can), and allowing who you are to come through, you'll nail your interviews and walk out feeling like you can do anything. 

Do you have any questions? 😉
Natalie