How to shine at an Interview

Written by: Julia James
Published on: 23 Apr 2014

Julia James at Direct recruitment shares her top tips on how to shine at interview.

Here at Direct Recruitment, our aim is to make your job search as smooth and pain-free as possible. We take time to review your CV, talk through your skills, experience and what you’re looking for in a role and then carefully match this up to our clients’ requirements to try and find you the perfect job. However, when it comes to interview, it’s all down to you.

We asked some of our key clients what they’re looking for in an ideal candidate:

  • Be punctual. Of course it’s obvious to say don’t be late, but it can be just as bad to be really early. If you do get to the venue way ahead of time, find somewhere to have a cuppa, settle your nerves and prepare yourself mentally. If you are running late then don’t panic, it happens – but be sure to let the interviewer know and be prepared that they may want to re-arrange.


  • Be well presented. For most marketing jobs the days of the ‘interview suit’ are now long gone. However, first impressions do count - it’s better to be smarter than necessary at an interview than too casual. It could be the case that your interviewer looks like they threw the first thing on that came to hand when they got up in the morning, but that doesn’t mean you have to – remember, they’ve already got the job!


  • Be prepared. Why do you want to work for this company? A candidate recently told an agency client of ours it was their inspiring creative work, but then couldn’t give an example. Epic fail! Make sure you do your research… on the company, their clients and work. With so much info online, there really is no excuse - you can even look up your interviewer on LinkedIn! Read Marketing Week and Campaign magazine (even while you’re having your pre-interview cuppa!) and be prepared to discuss the hot topics of the day. Take printed copies of your CV (just in case), have a notebook and pen with you, prepare questions to ask your interviewer and take notes – they will think you are both well organised and well keen!


  • Be interesting. Your interviewer has given up their precious time to see you so make it an enjoyable experience for them! They will already have your CV but this is your opportunity to bring it to life: use examples of successful projects and campaigns to demonstrate your experience and transferable skills in relation to the role you’re going for. If you can substantiate these with tangible results, then so much the better. Research shows that personality and enthusiasm hold the biggest sway with employers and can often lead to offers of employment for candidates who may not tick all the boxes on paper. There might be loads of other candidates being interviewed for this role so think of how you can make yourself stand out from the crowd – in a positive way!


  • Be polite. At a client meeting recently, the chap who offered to make me a cup of coffee whilst I was waiting in reception, turned out to be the Creative Director! Interviewers will often ask the receptionist and other colleagues what they think of a candidate, so make sure you make a good impression on everyone – these are people you could end up spending a lot of time with.


  • Be yourself. Okay, so it goes without saying, right? But, it can be harder than you think! Interview situations can sometimes feel rather unnatural and therefore make us say or do things that we wouldn’t under normal circumstances. It’s good to have a few nerves, but it is also important to try and relax. Remember – you have the skills and experience required for the job – that’s why you got the interview. Now, it’s the real you that they want to meet, not the one on paper. So, take a deep breath… smile, give a firm handshake and let the wonderful you shine through!

Julia is the consultant responsible for the recruitment of account handlers from Account Executive to Group Account Director for direct, digital and integrated agencies.