Ben Wattenbach, Recruitment Director at Adaptive Digital chatted with Ulrich Tacke, Managing Director of MEC Switzerland about how to excel in a Digital Marketing interview.
Ben: What do you potentially look for on a candidate’s CV before selecting them for an interview?
Ulrich: It always depends on the position we are looking at. In general any CV has to be stringent.
Is it a CV that shows the candidate has been progressing in their career? For example did they start in a small agency, moved to bigger agency, and moved to working with larger accounts?
Also if there is a gap – say two-three months missing – they should mention what they did during that time. Were they traveling, learning about other cultures etc?
Ideally something we call a ‘red thread’ can be identified within a CV.
What is the life line going through the CV? What has been the driving element for the candidate? Why did they move from one agency to another?
What key points or buzz words do you want to see in a CV when learning about a candidate’s experience?
Ulrich: We don’t really want to hear the buzz word bingo. What I like instead is hearing keywords in a meaningful context, with paragraphs providing an explanation.
It is important for me to be able to understand why the candidate is using the buzzwords and to gain their point of view.
The important part isn’t using the buzzwords but having something to say about them.
What questions are important for candidates to ask during the interview concerning the company?
Ulrich: I think any question about the company shows a general interest and are must-haves in an interview.
Candidates need to know why they are looking for a job in the agency they’re interviewing with before walking through the door.
It would be great to see someone who would ask questions about an agency’s positioning or philosophy and how we are bringing it to life.
How should a prospective candidate discuss the clients and the industries they have worked in?
Ulrich: Obviously clients give a good indication of the business experience the candidate has. For example if they have worked on big international clients, then they have certain standards and this gives an immediate indication.
Client portfolio is a significant selection factor. It is important to make sure you have both big names and smaller creative names in there.
How important is it for candidates to discuss their motivations for a new career?
Ulrich: A good interviewer will try to find out what motivates the candidate and their intrinsic drive. Money on its own is never, ever a good motivator.
Key questions I usually ask are: Why are you changing from your current position?
Is it a problem with a client, a boss, or money?
What are you looking for and expecting from this new position?
Should salary be discussed during the first interview?
Ulrich: I would not discuss it as a candidate. If an interviewer asks for it I would recommend the candidate be honest in regards to how much they’re currently being paid and give a range of salary that they are seeking. If they can show their knowledge on market rates from their understanding and research that’s even better.
Salary can be a great indicator as they might state a number later in the process which is far beyond what was originally discussed.
If it isn’t asked then leave it out for the first round.
It’s important to make it clear that money isn’t the only driving element.
How about a candidate’s long terms goals in regards to Media planning?
Ulrich: I will want to hear how they want to develop. If they have a development plan and what this might include. They should have a clear idea, even if it is farfetched.
Should a candidate bring up which tools and technology they are familiar with or prefer?
Ulrich: It can be very helpful to have the information on the CV, especially in a market like Switzerland! Has the candidate worked with certain tools, certain standards…?
This makes the entire process a lot easier. Especially in the media industry there are many standardized tools and it’s good to have an understanding of this and the technology.
It’s also a great sign if they say something such as “I have heard you are using this tool, I have no experience but would love to learn and develop in this.”
It works well if they can bring their own skillset and strengths to the front and discuss the tools they do have experience with that could be of benefit and transferred.
Should candidates bring up tools they don’t enjoy using?
Ulrich: This could make sense to discuss. However I think the smarter move as the candidate would be to keep this in mind and decide if they want to work with this moving forwards.
And if the agency uses it would they still want to work with them?
Can they make a positive out of it?
Selling a negative as a positive can work very well.
Any final thoughts?
Ulrich: Be on time and be prepared. Know which company you are visiting, check their website, know who you are talking to. You could Google people to get a picture of them before you meet them first time. Check their Facebook or their profiles on LinkedIn.
Make sure to have bullet points to talk about, that you can ask the interviewer. Do they love skiing? What are their interests etc.
Have a good level of self-confidence but do not be over the top.
And always give 100% – if you aren’t going in to win, there is no need for you to come to the interview!
Ben Wattenbach is the UK Digital Marketing Recruitment Director. He recruits for roles across the spectrum of seniority from entry level to Managing Director/C-level.
Feel free to reach out to Ben on LinkedIn for a networking conversation.
Tel: +44 208 123 0758
E-Mail: ben.wattenbach (at) adaptive-digital.com
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