Shh….our exclusive tips for acing your next interview are right here.
We care about our talent and their careers. We support them, coach them, and help them excel. As part of this commitment to their success, we’ll share insights from our own clients to help them score a touchdown in the interviewing game.
Even if you’re not an Aquent/Vitamin T talent (yet!) we’re passing along some collected client wisdom to help YOU be the best version of yourself during your next job interview.
Without further ado, unleash the secrets!
1. Never, Never, Never Overlook Preparation
This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many candidates *think* they are totally equipped to ace the interview, only to find out this is truly not the case. All due to poor preparation. Business development manager Tiffani Farrington says, “Show up to the interview with some in-depth knowledge about the company, the role, the person/people conducting the interview, and competitors in the industry. Many interviewers will ask, ‘What do you already know about our company?’ If you haven't done the work, it gives the impression that you don't care that much.”
Talent agent Jamie Neal agrees, “If a candidate makes it into the interview, the résumé has done some of the work and the client is already convinced it could be a good match.” What shocks many clients is the number of candidates who haven’t done their homework and lose that advantage. Neal says no doubt about it, “Hiring managers expect candidates to be well prepared.”
Agent Allyson Hoffman adds another note of planning not to skip: “Show up on time! It’s the most basic and simple thing you can do. Plan ahead, remember to check out parking instructions, figure out where to check in, etc. You will never be faulted for showing up too early (ten minutes is a good window), but if you're late, it’s hard to come back after that.”
PRO TIP: Remember the six Ps: Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.
2. Show, Don’t Tell
It’s so important to not just regurgitate your entire résumé, but rather, walk your interviewer through examples of how your experience can bring value to the table for the position and company. Agent Ilana Black in our Chicago office says, “I can’t tell you how many times we get feedback that a candidate shows up and just goes through the motions in an interview. We all understand that interviews can be intimidating and overwhelming, but there is a reason companies go through them as a part of the hiring process.”
Los Angeles agent Liz Campanile says to be sure to show your enthusiasm and excitement about the opportunity. “Clients tell us they want someone who’s curious about the day-to-day of a position. By asking great questions, you’re showing you’re interested in learning more about the job, and that definitely shows motivation. Ideal questions include asking about processes and team structures as well as company goals.”
Jessyca Hix adds, “Clients tell us many candidates ask too general questions when the interviewer asks if they have any questions. Be sure you don't ask questions that are tailored to what you want; ask questions that are going to showcase your interest and enthusiasm in the company and role.”
Candidates are in the room because the hiring managers saw something in their background (e.g. skills, past companies, portfolio) or learned something about them via phone interview or referral that they are excited about. The in-person interview component is to see how the individual will fare on a professional and interpersonal level. Show some excitement! Yes, interviews are a two-way street, but there is so much value in being present, prepared, and invested in the conversation.
PRO TIP: When two candidates have equal experience, "soft skills" such as passion, enthusiasm, adaptability, and a willingness to learn are things employers look for during the interview process. Don't be afraid to let your personality shine through in the interview, and most importantly, be yourself!
3. Tailor Your Pitch
Ilana Black says, “Make sure you RELATE your experience to the job at hand. It may not be a ‘perfect match,’ but if you show how your past work correlates (e.g. you don’t have pharmaceutical experience, but you have other regulated industry experience), it demonstrates that you:
- Understand the job/requirements
- Can address a weakness (and how to make up for it: training, applicable experience, etc.)
- Are trying to build a rapport with the manager from the get-go
“If that still doesn’t work, it shows your ability to problem solve, and hopefully, the company will remember that for the next time they have an opening!”
Business development manager Mike Monnat agreed, “Overwhelmingly, we hear clients want to meet candidates who have researched and deeply understand the pain points of their organization and how they can uniquely solve those challenges. If you can demonstrate how you understand and can solve their problems, you're a step ahead of most all other candidates.”
PRO TIP: Use the STAR method as a how-to guide to answer interview questions. What was the Situation the business was in? What Task was assigned to you? What Actions did you take to successfully accomplish this task? What were the Results of your efforts (preferably quantifiable)?
4. Have a Readily Presentable Portfolio (if applicable)
Especially in creative fields like graphic design, it’s so important to have a readily available portfolio to show during the interview. Make sure you’ve got 1-2 samples that you can use to walk the interviewer through the project. Agent Rae Jones said clients often tell her, “We don’t want to guess what part the talent played; they must be able to show us their story and how they got from point A to B. Show us your problem-solving skills, providing answers with real-life data to backup solutions.”
Agent Quinn Sidon agrees, “Clients say they really want to view work—either for marketing or creative/video talent—and that talent should be able to show their work and explain exactly what their role was. Clients appreciate quantifiable outcomes from the work that the talent completed. I encourage talent to always have examples of career successes to be able to pull out of their pocket.”
PRO TIP: For designers, having a small, professional, slick leave-behind, whether it’s a really nicely designed résumé, a snazzy business card, or a flyer, employers will appreciate a fine sense of detail and professionalism. It also helps your personal brand!
5. Don’t Forget The Follow-Up
Those last touches make a difference!
Agent Chrissy Andrews says, “Candidates should always thank an interviewer for their time, take a business card, and follow up with a thank you note talking about key points discussed in the interview.” Liz Campanile agreed, “I’ve seen a client pick the person who sent a ‘thank you’ note over one who hasn’t. It shows professionalism and good people skills, both attributes you want in your staff.”
Agent Rae Jones added that her clients often say, “Candidates forget to let them know they actually want the job. They can have a great interview but if they do not 'seal the deal' by letting the hiring manager know they're interested, and they’re left hanging.” To that end, if you want the job, tell them WHY you're a good fit!
PRO TIP: If you can do a handwritten note, even better! It makes you stand out from the other talent.
There you have it, all our clients’ secrets! (Well, almost all...) Be sure to keep these tips at the ready so you’ll know what you need to succeed during your next interview. If all else fails, due to nervousness, remember to smile, show your personality, enthusiasm for the position, and showcase the value you will bring to the role.