In most "tribes," there are one or two interviewers who are good with names. The rest are likely to compare you based on persona. Think about it; if you’ve been following any of the debates, you can see this on display front and center. The candidates all take jabs at each other’s positioning. As an experiment, forget the candidate’s name and just refer to them by the impression they left on you.
In the final rounds of recruiting, when everyone is equally qualified, that is when hiring decisions boil down to discussions about persona. Your demeanor, your confidence. These so-called "soft skills" become critical. In politics, candidates with a well-defined mantra tend to tangle their words less. They can focus on reinforcement instead of defense. The ability to do this well under fire is often called “being on point.”
Being on Point
Interestingly, most people and agencies do a good job of staying on point in their daily meetings. When they go on job interviews or new business pitches, it’s another story. Quite often, on-point behavior gets thrown out the window in a panic to say the right thing.
Have you ever dug a hole for yourself in an interview and found yourself saying something surprising? It's fine to tell a relevant story…but wander too far from home base, and all bets are off.
Suddenly, those normally sweet people on the other side of the table become sharks that smell blood, circling back to previous issues for weakness. Your heart rate is elevated. You are now in dangerous waters.
Danger 1: Forgetting to Be Yourself
Frantically flip-flopping on your position only aggravates the situation; get back to base as quickly as possible.
Danger 2: Lack of Commitment
Drop the established line and have too much of an open mind, and it demonstrates you’re not committed. You’re not a waffler, are you? Here you risk coming across as disingenuous.
Danger 3: Arrogance
On the flip side, you know from the job description they want an expert, but be careful here. Counter punch just a bit too strong and you’ll sound defensive or arrogant. Remember: There’s a difference between an expert and a know-it-all.
This is a good time for me to point out that I don’t pretend to have all the answers.
Instead I encourage you to consider the following:
If you were on the opposite side of the table, would it be clear:
-- Who you are?
-- What you offer?
-- What you stand for?
When prepping, ask yourself the following:
-- What are they looking for in a new hire or agency?
-- What are their pain points?
-- How can you solve their problems?
-- How would you best fit into their tribe?
Pop Quiz Time:
We are at the end of the article. So do you remember my name or what I said?
Peter Bossio is an Associate Creative Director/Art Director. He graduated from Syracuse University's Advertising Design program and attended intensive film/video production at Tisch School of the Arts. Peter has been a guest speaker at NYU School of Professional Studies and is president of his local Toastmasters Club. Want to connect with him? You'll likely find him on twitter @PeterBossio in a salsa club or at www.peterbossio.com.