There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to the job interview: How to make the best impression largely depends on who you are meeting with. Empathy is your ally. By contemplating in advance your interviewer’s “hot buttons,” you can address the topics that matter most to him or her. Following are some tips to help you do so:
When meeting with C-level executives:
• Google them. You may be able to find information about the senior manager you’ll be meeting with online. Executive interviews and profiles can give you insight into his/her personality and values.
• Paint a panoramic picture. Don’t get granular when discussing your prior work. Instead, talk about the “big picture” – namely, how you can help them meet their business needs.
• Be brief. Don’t take up too much of their time. Give complete but concise answers to interview questions.
When meeting with marketers:
• Emphasize results. Metrics are essential to marketers, so you can speak their language by quantifying the results of your work, whenever possible. For example, did an e-commerce website that you designed increase traffic or drive sales? What was a response to a direct marketing piece you designed? This type of information is music to a marketer’s ears.
• Showcase your “people skills.” Marketers want to know that you’ll be easy to work with, so be personable and let them know that you understand the pressures they are under.
When meeting with creative directors/creative service managers:
• Tell a story. Creatives want to understand your thought process, so be sure to describe your work in context: What was the business need, and how did you go about finding a solution?
• Be specific. Talk (candidly) about your particular role in the project and give credit where it’s due to others on the team.
• Show your style. Creatives want to know that you’re, well, creative. So, don’t hesitate to show a little personality and talk about the things that inspire you.
When meeting with human resources (HR) professionals:
• Look the part. HR professionals want to see that you will fit into the firm’s culture. So, try to dress like others in the firm — or a little better. (You can ask HR staff about the company dress code.)
• Show enthusiasm. Let them know that you are excited about the company and interested in your future professional prospects there. Ask about the career paths available.
When meeting with prospective creative coworkers:
• Build rapport. Peer-to-peer interviews are held primarily to gauge how well you will work with others on the team, so be friendly and look for common interests.
• Get the scoop. Ask potential colleagues about the firm’s culture, including what they like most about working there. This is an opportunity to find out about the work environment.
• Don’t let your guard down. When meeting with prospective colleagues, you may be tempted to chat more freely than you would with the hiring manager. But assume that everything you say eventually will get back to the decision-maker. Don’t compromise your chances by confiding something you really shouldn’t (for example, that you couldn’t stand your last boss).
Published in HOW Magazine April 2008 issue.