No matter what industry you’re in, job interviews are critical to your career progression and personal development.
Growing on a personal and professional scale will usually require at least a few job changes in your life. Changing jobs inevitably means you will encounter an interview process, which is why it’s so important that you know how to give a good first impression and instill confidence in a potential employer. When you’re applying at a digital agency some things might be slightly different to a traditional or corporate environment. In any case, you should still follow the basics:
- Give a firm handshake
- Be confident and polite
- Make eye contact with your interviewer(s)
- Put effort into your appearance
Most importantly, be yourself. Just as much as your potential employer is trying to figure out if you’re a good fit for the position and company, you are there to assess whether you would enjoy working in such an environment and with the team.
Below are a few key tips to help you ace an interview at a digital agency.
Showing up to an interview prepared can make or break the outcome. A strong candidate will turn up to an interview with a solid foundation of knowledge about the agency, their practices and potentially even their clients and staff if such information is available online. If you are applying for a position at a web design agency then check out their portfolio of designs so that you can see they type of work they already provide and you are able to then comment on your own experience and achievements with similar projects.
You should not only read through the agency’s website thoroughly, but also check out the current staff on LinkedIn to gauge where you sit in terms of your experience and skills. Have a look at the social media profiles such as the Facebook page of the agency to get an idea of how staff dress and the type of language the company uses to represent itself online. This will help you know how to dress for your interview and what might be appropriate language and tone to use during your interview. Understanding the agency’s values, passions and goals prior to an interview will help you relate your responses back to the agency and really illustrate your potential value.
As important as it is to know the agency, it’s equally important to know about the specific position you are applying for. Having access to a job description is beneficial at this stage as you can recognise whether you have the skills that are required and better understand what the interviewers will be looking out for. Have a think about relevant work experience and situations that can be used as examples to show you have the skills required. For creative positions, a portfolio is a great way to visually illustrate your work, in addition to showing your initiative, organisation and professionalism.
A surprisingly common mistake a number of people make is not knowing their own resume well. You should be familiar with the resume you submitted and be able to respond to any questions about any part of the resume immediately. This can show confidence in your own ability and provide a sense of comfort and trust between yourself and the interviewer.
Keep Your Cool
Staying as calm and relaxed as possible will help your personality to shine through any nervousness you might have. Just remember it’s a two-way process and you want to try and figure out if this is the place for you, just as they will be trying to figure out whether you’re the right fit for them. Timeliness is important for your arrival – try to arrive a few minutes early to show you are reliable, but remember that showing up too early can actually be frustrating if the interviewer(s) are in a meeting beforehand that they have to cut short.
Be kind and confident as you meet anyone in the workplace, and take a moment to actually look around the space. As the interview progresses, you’ll likely become a little more comfortable and be able to think about your responses and how to relate them back to the question and the agency’s vision better. Where possible, you should try to find examples of experience and how that relates back to the position. Interviewers will be looking for individuals who are proactive, show initiative and are committed, so it’s important to consider ways to show this in the process.
Ask the Right Questions
Arguably one of the most important parts of an interview process is the opportunity you are given to ask questions. Interviewers will often ask you if you have any questions before they wrap up an interview. This is your opportunity to really understand the agency, the position and ask the right questions to figure out whether you would actually enjoy working there. Remember, agencies work in different structures and with very different processes to corporates and even one another, so this is your chance to gain insight into the inner workings of the agency.
Some questions to consider might include:
- What qualities do you value most when searching for an employee?
- What’s the structure, or hierarchy if you like? What does this mean for autonomy in this position?
- What are the existing processes in place for (something relevant to your field)? i.e. design briefing, campaign ideation, design proofing etc.
- How would you describe the culture here?
- What do you enjoy most about working here?
- What are the future aspirations for the agency? Where do you think it will be in 5 years?
- Who are the favourite clients across the agency (don’t have to name any brands, but describe them)? What makes them a favourite?
Finish on a High Note
Finishing up an interview on a high note is important to leave a lasting impression. Consider thanking the interviewer(s) for their time and collecting their contact details. This is also an opportunity to verbalise your interest in the job opportunity and clarify the next steps in the process.
Sending a follow up email can show initiative and interest in the position and agency. This could simply be a thank you, or a chance to provide a digital copy of anything you mentioned in your interview to demonstrate your experience or previous work.
Understanding the agency, the position and being yourself as much as possible will give you the best chance of acing an interview at a digital agency. Good luck!