I get about 30 unsolicited job applications a week. I try to meet at least three ‘would-be’ recruits every 10 days. And when I do, I am searching for the four critical ingredients that make for a great hire. Without these ‘Golden Four’, you won’t make it with me. Here they are. Do you have them?
If you want a job in the marketing content and communications industry – in advertising, digital, PR and their sister disciplines – then follow these four Golden Rules when it comes to the all-critical job interview.
Seriously – I get asked about what qualifications are needed, what attributes a CV must show, what clever research a candidate must do prior to the interview conversation. For me, they count, but not a huge amount. What I am looking for, before anything else, are these four powerful and critical traits:
1. ARE YOU A 150 PERCENTER?
This is all about attitude and approach. Are you passionate, committed, driven, relentless in your pursuit to be the best you can be? As Vidal Sassoon told me almost 20 years ago, ‘The only place success comes before work is in a dictionary’. Do you work hard on yourself? Do you ‘turn up’ for learning and growth? Will you give this your all? Now relax- this is not about long hours; but it is about you delivering 150% positive intent and commitment.
2. ARE YOU OBSESSED WITH THE DETAILS?
Bill Marsteller defined ‘Excellence’ as: Clarity of purpose: attention to detail. Are you relentlessly focused on the detail – on getting the detail right? It is the platform for excellence. Spell my name, or title, or company name wrong on the envelope or email, and I’ll bin your approach immediately. If you can’t get that right, how can I ever trust you with a client? As NutraSweet’s Cameron Hall smashed into me in 1987, ‘God is in the detail’. And you know what? It really, really is.
3. DO YOU HAVE GOOD INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATIONS SKILLS?
Are you personable? Can you hold a conversation? Are you a better listener than you are a talker? Do you pay attention? Do you look at me when I am speaking? Very basic stuff. But absolutely vital in this business. I caught up in Singapore with Jerry Smith, the regional chief of Ogilvy One a few weeks ago. I marveled at his incredibly persuasive and charming interpersonal skills. Engaging, self-deprecating, amusing, cheerful, enquiring, interested, respectful, cheeky, entertaining. Seriously – you look at Jerry and you know immediately why clients love him and want him on their team. That’s the power of interpersonal skills.
4. ARE YOU A CLIENT NINJA?
As advertising industry legend Chuck Porter told us at Cannes, he built his great business on the back of ‘client ninjas’…. Executives who were obsessed with delivering outstanding client service, who loved working on clients, who understood ‘clients come first’, who are comfortable to be totally service oriented and focused on others and the success of others. Whether internal ‘clients’ or client clients, are you absolutely relentlessly passionate about clients, their careers, success, products, satisfaction. You have to be if I am to hire you.
These are the four golden rules to making it through to a role opportunity if you’re talking to me. As my brother Greg – a leader of the recruitment industry – tells me: “Hire for attitude, train for skills.”
I have met thousands of ‘would be’ recruits over 30 years, and it’s those with these traits that shine through. Of course work on your academic qualifications and your experience in the trenches, work your networks and do your research, but show up at my desk and fail on any of these four golden rules, and that all counts for nothing. Harsh, but true.