Posts Tagged ‘Interviews’

I am spending roughly fifty percent of my time interviewing people at the moment Рand not just Planners (though God knows, most of the ones that I have seen are stupefyingly bad), but Account Directors too Рand I absolutely detest it.

I’m a terrible interviewee myself. Veering wildly between unwelcome familiarity and the sort of icy, withdrawn demeanour that is such a striking element of portraits of Dante, I have attracted, over the years, such an exciting variety of feedback that it remains something of a shock that I have managed to remain profitably employed over the last fifteen years. With that in mind, perhaps I should have been a little bit more forgiving of the last candidate that I saw.

She was from a big, famous agency (not creatively scintillating, perhaps – but everyone has to pay the mortgage) and had been in advertising for twelve years or so. And yet…

And yet, she managed to talk about advertising without once referring to ideas or¬†creativity. I asked her (a self-described “Strategic Suit”) what the difference was between what she did strategically, and what I (as a Strategic Strategist) did – her answer was that I had more time on my hands to do strategy, as I didn’t have to engage in the business of writing timing plans. That was it for me: the idea that one “does” strategy is all I needed to hear to convince me that she thought that what I had time for was to “do” charts – and my thoughts on that are documented elsewhere.

So, I have just given my judgement (“I couldn’t see what aspect of the job she might be any good at”, if you’re interested) to 80s Throwback Account Guy who seems to be handling the Headhunters, and I look forward to meeting someone who interviews better than I do in the very near future.

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My desk is awash with the CVs of would-be Planners and would-be-far-better-paid Planners.

I find it quite easy to be brutal about the senior people who are looking to manage their careers, and make the next “smart move” – and so they’ve had a fifty per cent success rate with me. The great ones are great, the others make me want to self-harm just to end the boredom.

However, I am as soft as a marshmallow, being softened in a frying pan, in full sunlight when it comes to the people who just want a chance to “be a Planner” – especially when they have done something like left their home country to come to London because it’s “the home of Planning”. If find myself thinking “Well, if I did a lot more of the work myself and managed to get this person a training budget, in three years’ time, she could be great…” Fortunately, I interviewed her alongside Old Friend in Advertising (who has recently been promoted to a Global role, so is doing EXACTLY the same job as me) and she was much better at asking the brutal questions (not in the interview, but of me, afterwards) such as “How much help is she going to be to you?”, “How much time can you invest in her?”

Thankfully, I knew I had more people to see, because I was within a hair’s breadth of clasping her in my arms and saying “Congratulations! You’re hired!” and ordering Champagne – so it was only with the ultimate concentration that I managed to think into the future and ask myself: “Will either of us profit from my employing her?”… and thinking to myself “I’m just not sure”.

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What a striking difference there was between two men whom I interviewed for senior roles this week!

The first made my heart sink: from his Penfold-like appearance and demeanour, to his ghastly verbal skills (prefacing every swearword with either: “If you’ll pardon my French…” or “The technical term is…”). I was tempted to terminate the interview with a hearty “Fuck off, you useless cunt – if you’ll pardon my French.” but I couldn’t, as his interviewee technique had clearly incorporated a command such as: “Back your interviewer into a corner: ask him how it’s gone!” and before I knew where I was, I was simpering along about how I’d like him to meet some more people and all that bullshit. Of course, I won’t inflict him on anyone else, and I took the coward’s way out of giving my feedback to the headhunter…

By way of happy contrast, the second person I saw, the very next day was his mirror image: personable, hugely creative (the first interviewee, when I asked him what he was looking for in his next move, led with “The right level of remuneration”; this one replied “The best creative opportunity”), a CV littered with senior appointments on global business, and someone whom I’d actually like to see everyday, rather than someone who’d make me feel like hiding in the loo if I saw him coming…

Many more to see in the coming week, so I can’t be sure that we won’t see him bettered, but it was a very cheering contrast to Mr. Deadly…

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