For years, Leslie Kay and Hillary Black have been connecting advertising agencies and brands with top talent through their recruitment, staffing and coaching firm, Kay & Black (a Certified Women Owned Business). Their team specializes in recruitment for full-time and freelance talent in all areas of advertising, marketing and design. Kay & Black also provides professional development workshops through their educational division Campus and career coaching services through their one-on-one division perQ. Who better to provide tips on how to prepare for an interview the right way? Here's Hillary and Leslie—
You’ll find yourself with a drippy palm or two. Your brain will be playing good and bad tricks on you, like: “You’ve got this," or "you have no shot,” but you’re not one to give up, and you’re not one to go in blind, so continue to read and let’s get your hiring on.
Interviewing is much like dating
You leave the date wondering if they’ll like you enough to ask you out again. During and after an interview, you wonder if they’ll hire you – but that mindset comes from a place of insecurity. No one should ever enter the interview process feeling anything but prepared and hopeful. You deserve that after all your hard work.
You may ask yourself…
“Will they like me?” You might want to also ask: “Will I like them? Will they call me? Do I want them to call me?” It’s important to think about what you want in the process. Here are a few of Kay & Black’s tips to keep you from straying from what’s most important — what you want — and still nail your interview.
Do you like the company?
This question will help you answer one of the most important and in-depth questions many hiring managers want to know: “Why do you want to work at this company?” If you did your research, beyond seeing a list of skill sets that match yours, you will set yourself up for success. Was there something the company did recently that you found to be especially strategic, or did they come up with an interesting way to give back to their community? Depending on the specific type of company you are applying to, you can bring up conceptual work they did that sparked your enthusiasm, or an article from someone in the company that spoke to you about the company's mission or newest diversity initiative. Dig deep. Wouldn’t you rather get the job you want instead of just the one that says yes?
Speak to your experience and know your process
Companies want to hire talent that can speak about themselves and their work! Employers want to see your ability to walk into a meeting and sell your idea to anyone, from your direct report to the CMO.
Some of us have to work hard at relaxing, speaking confidently, and keeping our negative brain quiet during an interview, and that is okay. If this is you, be sure to practice and roleplay your talking points. Throughout, pull from the passion that got you interested in the first place. Do you have a unique way of generating ideas? Share your wins by identifying how your work was successful in your classes or your internship. Maybe you were proud of how you reached a new idea, managed a project, or how much you learned from a collaboration. Better yet – share some of the challenges along the way and how you overcame them, as this shows your ability to learn, take suggestions, and grow as a professional.
Some of us are introverts and in our coaching division perQ, we coach talent into sharing their humble truths when they enter a room. For example, we had a brilliant Account Executive who spoke several languages. This made her sound lovely and intelligent, though she was insecure about her English annunciation. We told her to walk in the interview and after an initial introduction, share the following: “Although I may know a few languages, please bear with me as I may self-correct when I speak through my work”. This made her real, and who doesn't want to hire someone with humility?
The best advice given to us by a head of creative management is to fill out an envelope prior to your interview and stamp it. Find a memorable card for each person you are meeting. After you leave, sit down in a quiet place and start writing a brief thank you note for their time, and if you recalled something they said that sparked your interest, you can add it in this card. Then, mail it! Be sure to follow up with an email as well, and make sure it reads differently, and that each email to different team members is unique in its own way.
When should you check in if you don’t hear anything in a few days?
Please do not take it personally. Some people are busy, some have no answer, and sometimes the job went on hold. Lastly, some people just don’t want to give anyone anything but good news, even if it's not 100% bad news.
What do you do if you feel you’ve been ghosted?
Follow up again, acknowledging how busy they are and asking for any updates. Be appreciative of and grateful for their time!
You may land your first interview and get an offer immediately, or it might take a few times. That being said, knowing you were prepared will make you feel good and build your confidence. You are clearly reading this because you care enough to put your best self forward.
Hillary Black & Leslie Kay
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