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The secrets of the perfect interview for Planners

By Sarah Owens on 07.10.15 in Your Job Search

Nick Baker, Planning Director at Proximity shares his advice with Sarah Owens from Direct Recruitment

Nick's passionate about candidates performing at interview to the best of their ability.  I asked him some key questions to get his perspective on what that means to him and what his advice would be if you're about to interview for the job you really want.

What frustrates you about some planners when they come for interview?  

Planners are in high demand at the moment, and good ones are like gold dust.  The problem is that many just can't be bothered to demonstrate their potential value; they see the process as all about 'what can the agency do for me?'  Whilst I'd want to be selling the agency to someone I wanted to hire, it's hard to get to that point if I'm not seeing how the candidate thinks - their thought processes, where they've added value and how they feel they can answer the role.

What would you really like to see from a candidate?

I'd like to see that they understand the job brief and have an idea how they'd be the answer to what I'm looking for; that they have an opinion on the client, their marketing activity and the challenges they face; that they can talk through their CV and demonstrate the specifics of how they think.  Also, it's vital that they can talk through some relevant examples of their work, demonstrating where they have added value.  And I'd like to see that they have an idea of where they are going in their career, what skills they want to acquire and why they're interested in the role we're talking about.

Do you think that candidates' attitudes to career development have changed recently and why?  

It has and I think that it's primarily because Millennials are very different.  They have a greater awareness of what they could be worth and money's more important, over and above a career plan and getting the right experience.   Apart from that side of things, they find it hard to answer the question what are they looking for, often giving vague answers that really aren't grounded in developing a skills set or getting exposure to new areas.  They have the intellect, but I need to know where they want to get to.

What's your view on bringing a portfolio of work to an interview?   

I think it's a really good idea.  Selecting 4 -5 pieces of work that are as relevant as possible to the role gives you something you can immediately talk about and shows the interviewer how you think and where you've added value.  If you don't have some work examples that are immediately relevant or you can't share your work, then spend some time putting together a pertinent thought piece.  My view is that if the job's worth going for, then you should do your best to get it.  And if all this seems like too much hassle then you shouldn't go for the interview. 

If you had to summarise your advice, what would you say?

I think it's summed up best in the one word 'preparation'.   You need to take the time and put in the effort to know your CV, the job brief, the agency and the client.  Demonstrate what you can bring, where you can add value and substantiate this with some appropriate case studies and examples.  You need to understand your strengths and weaknesses, be articulate and passionate about the very best strategic thinking, clear where you're going in career terms and what you're looking for.  Be positive and ask questions. 

For me the candidates who stand head and shoulders above the 'also ran's' are the ones who care enough to take the time to do this and who recognise that, as true planners there's always more to learn.