How to Ace Your Interview
Aug 4, 2016
As Centerline’s Recruiting and Onboarding Specialist, one of my responsibilities is screening potential Centerliners, both over the phone and during our in-person interviews. At any given time, we’re hiring for three or more positions, and looking at least five or six strong candidates for each of those roles. So, you could say I’ve had my fair share of experience in interviews. I’ve seen it all – the good, the bad, the painfully awkward, the awkwardly hilarious. Instead of taking all that experience and say, writing a book (maybe some day), I thought I’d share my top tips for nailing an interview here at Centerline.
1. Practice a personal elevator pitch. We’ve all heard the term elevator pitch – the short, succinct summary to quickly define a product or business and its value proposition. Well, the same goes for selling yourself. It’s important to be able to concisely explain who you are, what differentiates you and why you think you’d be a good fit here at Centerline. The traits we value most? Being self-motivated and accountable, decisive, collaborative, intuitive and adaptable…and having an unwavering and insatiable curiosity. Keep that in mind.
Advice: Write down a few sentences to answer the above questions. Read it out loud. Read it to a friend. Do that again. You want to be comfortable talking about yourself, so take out anything that feels weird or disingenuous.
2. Come prepared with WHY you want to work here. And for the love of all things Lilly Pulitzer, please make it more than “well, you have a bar!” What is it about the company that speaks to you? The different disciplines all working together? The potential to add major brands to your portfolio? I definitely remember those candidates that can quote different blogs or social postings that they really liked – and it shows me that they’re already invested in who we are and what we do.
Advice: Keep up on our blog! Sign up for our newsletter. Follow us on our social channels. Network with current Centerliners on LinkedIn or at events.
3. When talking about your work experience, try using the STAR* approach. [STAR: situation, task, action, result.] It may seem hokey, but it will really help you hone in on the best examples to bring forward in your interview. It also helps us understand how you think – we’re a marketing agency that provides strategic services and creative content to our clients, so it’s important that candidates (yes, even our creatives) have an understanding of the “why” and the “so what” of projects. And if you have a portfolio to share, be ready to explain what you did and why it mattered.
Advice: Go over your resume and pull out a couple really outstanding pieces of work or campaigns. Think about them like this: Describe the situation you were in or the task you needed to accomplish. Be specific and provide detail. What action did you take? Keep the focus on you. What happened? What did you learn? Similar to the above, practice in front of a friend.
4. Be confident but humble. Okay, so in the above, I said to keep the focus on you. And you definitely should highlight yourself, but there’s a fine line between confidence and flat-out arrogance. Know your work and stress your accomplishments, but please don’t oversell yourself, and definitely don’t lie. We’re a collaborative bunch and really value hearing each other’s ideas…even if we don’t always agree, we know how to politely and respectfully disagree. So, no Kanyes please (although we acknowledge his creative genius).
Advice: If something feels like it’s tipping the egotistic scales, then ask yourself “What would I think/feel if someone said this to me? Does it sound single-minded and superior?” If so, it’s time to dial it down.
5. Show off your personality! We’re a ragtag bunch of funny and creative misfits and we want people to add to that collective personality. Highlight hobbies and other things you do that make you the most special you of all.
Advice: Stay away from blatantly inappropriate jokes (at least during the interview).
And here’s a few definite, absolute don’ts:
1. Don’t trash talk your previous company. There’s a right way to talk about your current/previous company and that’s positively. Never, ever trash talk a previous employer in an interview. It just makes us think you’d do that to us, too.
2. Don’t read directly from your resume.
3. Don’t wear bathing suit bottoms. Trust me, they are not an acceptable substitution for pants.
To see our current openings (and potentially put your interview skills to the test), please visit www.centerline.net/careers!
*STAR, SHARE…there are a ton of these types of techniques.
I'm an introverted extrovert who respects and appreciates Wu-Tang, but also loves Lilly Pulitzer and a monogram. I'm motivated and inspired by being around and interacting with people, and at the same time, really value binge watching Netflix by myself (+ my dog and a glass of wine, of course). At age four, my favorite song was "Enter Sandman" by Metallica, yet I refused to leave the house without a bow in my hair...preferably pink. My interests, skills, and passions have always been considered somewhat broad and unique, but that's what makes me good at my job. I currently hold the position of Recruiting & Onboarding Specialist at Centerline, where I focus on recruiting top talent and keeping our agency staffed with the most skilled and creative folks in the industry. Every day, I mix practicality and black-and-white, logical thinking, with grey, innovative ideas in an evolutionary workplace. I'm open minded to the variances between people, their personalities, professional disciplines, and capabilities. I want to know what makes people tick, what drives them crazy, and what they really value. My position at Centerline allows me to interact with a wide demographic of people from different backgrounds and disciplines, so I'm always learning new things, building relationships, and feeding my fervent curiosity.