I continue to be surprised to hear from hiring managers that too many job applicants are coming to interviews without doing their homework.
Whenever I hear this complaint, I recall an informational interview when my jaw nearly hit the floor. Responding to my question why he was interested in working at Ketchum, one interviewee said he had always been interested in advertising. I politely ended the interview moments after asking him what else she knew about the agency. Blank stare. Sadly, this isn’t the only time I’ve received the “I’ve always wanted to get into advertising” response.
Thankfully, most job applicants do their online research about prospective employers. However, many interviewers tell me that they’re surprised with the lack of thoughtful questions raised by applicants. A really good question, therefore, can set you apart from other candidates. Do your research and try to bring at least five solid questions to a job interview. If you’re interviewing with several individuals, don’t use all five on each person. Spread them out or bring a few more. Every agency is different, ask them about their vision, mission and growth plans by speciality. Demonstrate awareness about what makes an agency profitable. Don’t ask about benefits, vacation and tuition reimbursement (that happens all too frequently, unusually when the applicant is prodded for questions and they’re not prepared with more relevant questions).
I was glad to see the importance of good questions mentioned in Sunday’s New York Times “Corner Office” column featuring Lars Bjork, CEO of QlikTeck, a data software company founded in Sweden and now headquartered in Radnor, PA.
When asked how he evaluates candidates during the hiring process, Bjork said: “Have they prepared questions for me? I find it peculiar when people come into an interview and they have no questions for me. You’re going to make a big bet on your future and you have no questions about where you’re going?”