How to ace the creative interview

I’ve been asked and have answered this question many times. My answers have typically been thorough and imbued with common sense (hopefully). And honestly, they’re probably very similar responses to other creative leads. This time, I find myself answering in a woollier fashion. It is perhaps less functional, specific or numerical. Gone are the days of showing me your eight best pieces of work, twelve pieces. And I can’t speak to what other agencies are looking for, but I can say that, from my perspective, we’re looking at so much more than the work. And what I’m looking for is highly specific to how we see the world and how we work.

I’ll start with the more obvious helpful pointers.

We’re looking for talent. So put only your best work in your folio. I mean, your absolute best, knock you on your backside, shit. 

I’m after ideas and craft — divorcing the two seems like an archaic construct. 

Edit, edit, edit and weed out the merely good. 

And treat your folio like a piece of work in itself.

Sequence your work — listen to a whole album (preferably on vinyl) and savour the order in which the artist has laid down the songs; you’ll learn a lot. So pace your folio to take the viewer on a journey with you.

Learn to talk about that journey.

Learn to enjoy talking about that journey.

And here’s a big clue on how to make that more relaxed and work for you: do your homework.

Research the agencies and work out who you want to talk to.

Then, research some more. Research the agency’s work, people, and process. Find old press releases and go deeper than what’s on their homepage. Sure, this can help you better butter a few egos, but you’re looking for a potential connection in how you see things. The conversation should flow. And that’s where the magic happens, or at least, it does for me.

It’s about culture, a shared one. 

The meeting shouldn’t feel like a slide show or an interview. It’s a discussion.

What truly gets me excited is when I can see that a person is interesting or interested. 

It doesn’t mean you must be flinging yourself from planes and showboating to the world how interesting you are on Instagram or Tik Tok.

What are you curious about? How do you watch and translate the world? What are you reading that I should be reading? What are you listening to? Are you making music, film, or photography in your spare time? Do you make anything else? Collect something? Obsess about something? Podcast about it?

It is far beyond, ‘I like running, staying in, going out, and watching films.’ And if that’s what your CV currently sounds like, I suggest you might want to look at that. 

People will employ, want to work with, and want to be with interesting people.

Hopefully, that sounds more interesting than bringing me eight bits of work.

Note. If you want to read some top-notch thorough advice, then look no further than this