How to Prepare for an Interview at a Creative Agency

Whether your area of expertise is digital strategy, account management, graphic design, or one of the many other marketing-related disciplines, there’s a place for you at a creative agency.

The media landscape is undoubtedly changing, but demand for creative talent remains. According to global ad agency Magna, ad spending in the US is expected to grow by 13 percent this year to top $320 billion. That means agencies are currently on the lookout for skilled candidates who can meet their clients’ diverse and expanding needs.

How can you prove you’re up for the task? Arrive at your interview prepared to impress. Here are five strategies you can use to wow creative agencies and secure a position within their walls.

1. Google your heart out

Your first step in the preparation process should be to head straight to the web. As soon as you know who you’ll be interviewing with, find out as much as you can about their career to date.

This exercise will help you identify commonalities that you can work into the conversation (for example, the realization that both you and your interviewer worked on campaigns that won Webby Awards). If you discover you have some acquaintances or previous coworkers in common, you may even be able to glean some insight into the interviewer’s personality prior to your meeting.

2. Get the help of a recruiter

Agency jobs are highly competitive — but using a recruiter can give you an edge. Work with your recruiter to identify your target agency’s unique culture, pain points, and recent wins. This information will help you customize your interview responses, but it also allows you to demonstrate an interest in the creative agency’s needs.

Remember that a recruiter’s top priority is to make sure you find the right job. Take full advantage of all the perks that come along with a recruiter who specializes in unearthing fantastic creative, communications, and marketing opportunities.

3. Refine your portfolio

Designers, ad copywriters, art directors, content marketers, and the like are typically required to present a portfolio of their previous work. If you fall into this category, take a long look at what you have to offer. The objective isn’t to show the interviewer everything you’ve ever done, but to select the projects you’re most proud of while also ensuring that work shows your range.

Aim to craft a portfolio that covers multiple industries, products, and forms of media. Include data on its effectiveness if you can (conversion rates for the online ads you designed, the number of page views received by the sponsored content you developed for a client, and so on). When you present and describe a variety of projects, you appear more experienced and thus more appealing to a hiring manager.

4. Make a good first impression

Most interviews begin with some light chitchat. Don’t overlook the importance of this part of the process. A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that the first few minutes a candidate spends with an interviewer influences their overall opinion. In the cases where the interviewee was able to make a good first impression, the interviewer gave them a higher overall score.

Appearance, voice, body language, confidence…all of these have an impact on how you’re perceived. This is also where you can use what you learned from your preliminary research on the interviewer. Personalizing your conversation will make you a more memorable candidate.

5. Show you’re a team player

Winning new agency business is a team effort. There are very few instances where a creative professional single handedly scored a new client. While you should certainly emphasize your contribution to the pitches you’ve worked on in the past, glossing over the work that your teammates put in could make you appear narcissistic.

Rather, present yourself as a team player who’s willing to collaborate for the good of the company. Show the interviewer you value others, and that you understand successful agency work is always a combined effort.

Preparation is important regardless of the type of position you're angling for, but when you hope to secure a place in a creative agency, it’s absolutely vital. Ready for a new agency opportunity? Submit your resume to our recruiters today.