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Seeking Work, and Advice: Kathy Leonard’s candidate reply can help anyone looking to ‘apply’ themselves


I was recently asked by a candidate for some advice.  She was interviewing for an account director position with a well-known New York City-based advertising agency.  She wanted to know what level of compensation to expect for the position, but more important, what kind of questions she might expect.  As I read over my response, it seemed to have merit for many candidates interviewing for all kinds of positions.  So I thought I’d share it with you.  Below is what I told her.


Hi, Andrea.

I’m not sure of the questions they will ask, but I can give you some perspective as to what they will be looking for.  Basically great, energetic attitude, clearly knowledgeable in agency process and loyalty programs; has experience (you can describe) in how to engage customers, and is very proactive in bringing up ideas and opportunities to the client.

Think of your experience in terms of three or four best stories.  These stories should be examples of your having done the things they are looking for.  Then, regardless of the question, you can use one of your examples to tell a compelling “story” about what you did, how the client reacted, etc.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be a case study where you go into “and the results were….”  It does need to give the idea that you took the initiative, worked really well with your team, bonded with your client, etc.

Illustrate in your stories something that was innovative, something you or your team brought to the client they hadn’t thought of or asked for. In other words, how you brought “the next big thing” to the client.  And remember, while it doesn’t have to be literal, it has to be illustrative.  Your excitement and passion need to come through without being over the top.

Your prospective employer has provided a nice job description, but don’t expect everyone you interview with at the company to have read it. Have a few questions for each interviewer: for example, Define what you believe success looks like in the position.  Describe the team and how you like to communicate given the different markets involved.  What makes this client unique?  How long have you had this client?  Do you do client satisfaction surveys each year?  How does this client view the agency?  Is this a new position?  If not, what happened to the last person in the role?  Why do you like working for (agency)?

These are just some suggestions.

Good luck and let me know how it turns out!



When you make it to the interview stage, you can be pretty sure the company believes you have the skills and experience to do the job.  How you are perceived by those interviewing you will make the difference in whether you get the offer or not. Find out as much as you can about what the client is looking for beyond skills and experience, then build your own stories that illustrate those assets.