TCG 411: The Competitive Edge, Get Your Interview Game On

Landing a Job in the Creative Industry Requires Stellar Interview Skills

By Donna Farrugia, Executive Director of The Creative Group

The competition is fierce for those pursuing work in the creative field. According to a new survey by The Creative Group, advertising and marketing executives interviewed said they meet with seven candidates, on average, before filling an open position in their department.

If you’ve been called in for an interview, you must be prepared to pull out all the stops. It’s your big chance to really stand out from the crowd and show why you’re the best choice for the position. Consider the following tips:

  • Do some digging. Uncovering beyond-the-basics knowledge about the job and company will help you communicate specific ways you can contribute to the organization’s success. Visit the firm’s website, Facebook page or Twitter feed; search online for recent news articles; and ask people in your trusted inner circle if they have any insight about the company.
  • Understand when the interview truly begins. Most job candidates believe that the interview starts when they shake the hiring manager’s hand. The evaluation actually begins when you approach the interviewer’s assistant or receptionist. (Some interviewers may even observe you parking and entering the building from their corner office.) Be on your best behavior from the moment you arrive, and treat everyone you encounter with courtesy and respect.
  • Take conversational cues from the interviewer. Some employers like to chitchat before delving into the discussion. In these instances, engaging in some casual small talk will help you identify points of common ground. Other interviewers, however, simply want to cut to the chase and get down to business. Be yourself, but always take the hiring manager’s lead.
  • Have a good story to tell. Be prepared to provide memorable anecdotes about how you have helped solve business problems. An acronym I use to remember this is GRR – discuss the Goal, your Role and the Results of the project.
  • Query carefully. The questions you ask should be focused on the company, not on you and your needs (e.g., salary, paid vacation). Ask the hiring manager to describe an aspect of the job that might surprise you or what the team’s process is for collaborating on projects. This will reinforce your interest in the position and company, while providing you with useful information that can help determine if the job is a good fit.
  • Remain positive. If you don’t get the job but have developed good rapport with the interviewer, request feedback on what you might have done better; you’ll pick up tips that may help in your next interview. If you accept rejection graciously, you may even put yourself first in line for the company’s next opening.

Donna Farrugia is executive director of The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing creative, advertising, marketing and web professionals with a variety of firms. More information, including online job-hunting services, candidate portfolios and The Creative Group’s award-winning career magazine, can be found at

One thought on “TCG 411: The Competitive Edge, Get Your Interview Game On

  1. Cheryl

    These suggestions are very accurate within my personal experience. I was waiting in a front lobby for a first interview appointment, and in walked a friendly person returning from lunch. They stopped and chatted with me about a necklace I was wearing.

    After they went on to their work destination, the receptionist noted that was a good sign because, unbeknownst to me, it happened to have been the company owner. Wow! BTW, I got the job.

    One other thing that may be good to keep in mind, if you are requested to “test” for proficiency with a particular software program — don’t panic. Most hiring tests are typically geared to how well you problem solve and interact by the questions you may ask. There isn’t any way for you to know how a particular group refines their use of a specific program. However, in my experience, you can show them how trainable and how quickly you can get up-to-speed by knowing the basics along with asking a few good questions. Stay confident in your skills, but be honest about what you actually know.