When Susie Q comes in and sits down in the conference room to interview for that Account Supervisor role, she is very nervous. She spent yesterday going through her closet to find the right outfit for this little chat. She wanted to project that she’s confident and capable, but not too stuffy. At the last minute, she might have found herself in the dressing room at the Limited trying on silky blouses to go under her black jacket because the plain white button down one was too conservative.
She stayed up until 2 am printing out her resume, tweaking it, adjusting the margins and trying to figure out what to take off so it all fit on one page. She had to run to Office Max at 9pm to get another printer cartridge. She picked up a new pen, too, because it looked nicer than the disposable one she would usually have.
She read through a few interview books and practiced her answers. She memorized the job description. She thought of some examples of “a time when she overcame a real disappointment” just in case you ask her.
For days, she has been scouring your agency’s website for information. Not only is she well-versed on your accounts and your leadership, she has Googled the individuals she’s meeting with today and knows their career history and accomplishments. She has come prepared to list for you what she is looking for, how much money she wants, and how she can make a difference.
She is prepared. And you have come to expect it because we usually regard interviews as a company or agency choosing who will get the job and who will not. As if you are in the power seat.
The problem with this way of thinking is that it’s not really entirely true anymore. And if you approach your open position from this point of view, it makes you very vulnerable.
Savvy candidates understand that, while it is respectable to wear some deodorant and shave before the interview, they are interviewing YOU just as much as they are interviewing YOU. This begs the question…what are you bringing to this party?
We can assume you are dressed appropriately and that you’ve seen this person’s resume. But are you prepared to sell yourself and your agency? Have you done your research? Can you decipher in that resume what might be important to this candidate? Is work/life balance an important topic to this mother of 2? Is the option to travel an appealing one or a downside to this job? What can you say about the accounts and day to day responsibilities that really sell it?
So often, I fear, HR folks and Hiring Managers are so focused on weeding folks out that they forget that the candidates are doing the same thing. I mean, heck, we do it here. We tell potential recruiters that it is hard work and a tough job. We tell them that people aren’t always nice and there’s a lot of hand-holding and then we wait to see who thinks they can cut it.
But obviously, that isn’t the whole story. It’s a fun place to be and the people are gracious and supportive. There’s an opportunity to take this as far as I’d like that doesn’t exist elsewhere. I don’t tell everyone that but that should be part of the whole picture.
You’re in advertising, so keep that in mind when it comes time to sell yourself. It’s up to you if you offer the job to this candidate. But it’s up to her if she accepts.