I try not to unload Old War Stories. Try to keep posts short. But I’ve been throwing some pretty heavy interview stuff at you. Here are a few hard-learned lessons we’ll call “Fun with Interviews.”
Most of these stories started with some foreknowledge. I knew the person/people/someone who’d be included in the process. Someone in my network knew someone. Some worked for them. Some interviewed with them. Some merely knew someone who know someone.
Foreknowledge is a double-edged sword. If you’re smart, you arrange your presentation to the Prospect. More easily done one-on-one, but in group shows, you must (a) learn who the REAL decision maker is (maybe not the ECD, maybe the GCD, CD, ACD, AD, AE – could be anyone; your job to find out). If it’s a committee, well, presenting to committee’s an entire subject.
File everything you hear – true, untrue, rumors – in the back of your mind. Mix with what you’ve learned during the live process. Call for reserves if you need them.
Once you’ve tailored your presentation for your Prospect, hold back some work for Just in Case moments when things go South. When you need a Hail Mary. Keep them not easily accessible (locked files, for example).
Important cliché here: Less is More. I could show work for hours and still not run out of stuff I consider “bookable.” Could - but don’t. I show as little as possible. When I get the big “aha!” response, start tapering off, being sure the last thing they see is just as strong as whatever wowed them most. Even if I just show the Prospect’s favorite again, this time with more in-depth narrative.
While the following interviews (unless noted) were grounded in foreknowledge of some kind, how I used/reacted to that foreknowledge varied according to Prospect, my (shameless, I know) mood, personal needs/wants (not the same thing), even how hot it was that day and/or if they bought me lunch.
Load up on all the background you can. You have but one reason to interact with a hiring Prospect: Get The Offer. Whether you’re looking, whether you want to work there - or not.*
Some of these past interviews lacked Prospect Centricity. Some were in search of it. Some had Prospect Centricity up the yin yang. One or two possibly lacked sanity, as well.
They were all fun.
This is important. No matter how badly I needed the job, I ALWAYS HAD FUN WITH THE INTERVIEW. Heresy, you say? Not al all.
If you’re having fun, your attitude‘s great. You can control the interview, get into your groove. You can hide how desperate for a job you really are.
Every project – no matter how awful it was to produce – has a funny story in it.
Every project, a moment where you shined, even if it was to break the ice with that funny story everyone else is too uptight to see. Just make sure those stories have a point. One that’s headed brilliantly in your direction.
What else have you done?
I hate focus groups. But if I have to show work I did for a helicopter battery manufacturer, I love adding how the focus group helicopter pilots picked their teeth at the one-way mirror. Love telling how the pilots loved the brand’s wet tee shirt calendars, hated the cheap-o batteries. (Female models in wet tees were standard until Gloria Steinem burned her bunny tail.)
Love even more, showing the camped up wet-battery (they upped their water proofing)-tee-shirt calendar everyone loved, but wouldn’t risk producing.
Oh the fun - and freedom - of the desperado move! The interviewing tanked on produced work, so I dug up parody calendar comps for a wet tee shirt wearing batteries and got the offer. Which I did not take. (Creative Differences – I thought my produced work was much smarter than wet-tee batteries, even if the calendar parody was 100% on both interview and battery Prospects.)
The interviewer and I both walked away looking forward to working together sometime.
My unwritten law, if it’s not fun, I don’t want to do it.
No matter how badly I need the job - if the interview’s not fun for me, it’s not fun for my Prospect. Remember Marshall Pengra from the previous post? “I hire people I like.”
All the following war stories were fun. Some obviously happened on a bad day for someone.
All make me laugh. Some -- I still cringe.
Can you tell which is which?
Never be ashamed of what you have – and haven’t – done.
Interviewing with the ECD and CEO of a worldwide agency’s most profitable franchise. The market is depressed, shops are closing, an entire city - desperate for a job. Myself included.
CEO: This work is highly unusual. And you don’t have a college degree? (Foreknowledge: Maybe I can intimidate her with the degree thing, get her for less $ - so much fun making job supplicants uncomfortable!)
KC: If you can find someone with a college degree who can do this, hire them. (Stupid? Maybe. Scared? Maybe – I was desperate for a job, like everyone else in the market. But standing up to him was more fun, more confidence building than I imagined,)
Result: KC gigged em another $5Gs.
Prospect Centric? Absolutely. The guy was a known bully. I already had a soft offer from the shop’s other ECD. Was senior enough to know if I flinched, I’d lose any equal footing I had. (Note: This was the only time my college degree (or lack thereof) was ever mentioned in an interview. It’s about you and your book. Not you and your degree.)
Should you react the same way? Not until you’re senior enough - or they’re desperate enough - to push back. It sure was fun seeing the look on his face when he thought he might have blown it – I knew I had specific category experience they were desperate for. Always pays to do your homework. Always fun to make them pay for dissing you. Once you have The Offer.
Let no number cross your lips.
Desperate for a job in a national recession. Interviewing for a CD/GCD position I was not qualified for. After making the interview rounds, was offered a different job.
ECD: What would it take to move you up here? But not as CD/GCD? (Translation: This isn’t the right spot for you, but I’d like to hire you anyway. You’re good to let go and you’d be fun to work with.)
KC: The recruiter said you pay GCDs $125K+. What do you pay ACDs? (Wrong wrong wrong. If you’ve read any of my interviewing/salary negotiation pieces, you know to never introduce a number first. Even if you think you know it. Even if, as in this case, you’re using it as a non-number.)
What ECD heard: $125k+. (Never give up the first number. Even if it’s not one you’re shooting for.)
Prospect Centricity: Blew that one.
Result: End of interview.
Should have responded with something like “What’d you have in mind,” then had fun ratcheting it up by emphasizing position’s importance and my strengths.
Bite or Cut Bait.
Stranded in a smaller market when regional gig closes doors. Interviewing with ECD of different franchise of CEO with penchant for college degrees (above). Cut of same cloth. In days of paper portfolios, he throws my samples onto couch, finding fault (small and large) in each piece. Stops watching my reel mid-way through. Then makes an offer.
KC: If my work’s so bad, why are you offering me a job? (Better than telling him off, but not as much fun. Foreknowledge – he’s an a$$hole. Personal foresight – I have category experience he needs. He’ll call for freelance (he did).
Prospect Centricity? Up to your point of view.
Result: KC thanks him for his time, leaves before he can answer. Builds freelance business into award-winning creative boutique.
When you know better than to say less.
Interviewing name-on-door society CD of highly regarded small local/regional shop in new city. Great personal rapport, but clouds of creative difference on the horizon. An offer sensed as forthcoming.
KC (cutting offer off at the pass): I have a rule not to work for anyone better looking than I am. Otherwise I’d walk through fire to work with you.
Result: Twenty-year friendship, with short period of award-winning freelance. Name on Door gives elderly aunt and uncle royal tour of city, with exclusive private club lunch.
Prospect Centric? Absolutely. Played right to his ego, without insulting/hurting his feelings by turning down his job offer.
Fun? Interviewing with this guy was fun from the get-go. We had such a great rapport – but that rapport was what let me see his egocentricity, which I turned into Prospect Centricity. Although I knew better than to work for him myself, I sent him several juniors in my big international agency group who had a great time, built great books.
One to grow on.
This is way too long, but this one included for all those who read my 8/21/18 post, That recruiter isn’t looking for a new BFF.
Interviewing for a great job for a great agency. The Recruiter and I got on famously. Everything from shoes to Jack Russell Terriers in common. So supportive, so certain I was perfect for the spot, so comforting in a huge shop full of people I didn’t know.
As I worked my way through all the other interviews, I started noticing the questions seemed to all point to one I didn’t want to answer. Something I had let slip to my new BFF, the Recruiter. Deflected the issue as best I could. Everyone loved my work. Loved my background.
And kept asking about the one thing I did not want to discuss.
Prospect Centric? Well, the Recruiter seemed to love me. My research never indicated the Not Answered question was relevant.
Stupid? Absolutely. The issue wouldn’t have even come up if I hadn’t “bonded” with my new BFF, the Recruiter.
Result: No offer. The Recruiter and I still talk, but never became best friends. I am careful what I say to her. And every other recruiter I talk to, even those I’ve known for years. I do not lie. I simply do not disclose.
Don’t cry over spilled pop.
One last Quickie: On my way to an interview, I spilled pop down the front of my top. I tried to rinse it out, but the wetness grew and so did the spot. With every new introduction, I said something like, “sorry, I’m usually not a mess but I hit bump drinking a can of soda on the way over.”
What they said: Oh yeah! Didn’t notice until you showed me!”
The reality: Nine out of ten people never notice things like that – until you point it out. Do your best to clean up. Smile. If they ask, make a joke of it. If someone stares at the spot but says nothing, either make a joke (if you have a good one) or say nothing.
If there’s time, there’s always a store nearby. Sometimes it takes is a scarf. Usually all it takes is Attitude.
Now get out there and have some fun.info
*A lot more to it, possibly another post, but your job is first to get the phone/Skype interview. Then to get the in-person interview. Then to get The Offer. You may not want the offer, may not decide to take it even it’s great – up to you. But until you learn how to control who gives you offers and who doesn’t, Job #1 is ALWAYS GET THE OFFER.
This blog post, as with everything else published in KamikazeCreative.blogpsot.com, ©2018, Doreen Dvorin/KamikazeCreative