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Creatives: The 1 Thing You’d Better Say in a Job Interview if You Want the Gig

Creatives: The 1 Thing You’d Better Say in a Job Interview if You Want the Gig

So I’m sitting in the marketing executive’s office, finishing up an interview for a senior writer position I really want. It’s gone well so far. I’ve given more good responses than mediocre, I think, and as far as I can tell no really stupid ones. Then he hits me with this…

“Robbie, I like your work, but there are a lot of talented writers interviewing for this job. Can you give me one compelling reason — right now — that you’re the one we should hire?”

My first thought: Oh, crap.

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I don’t do well in these situations. And in terms of questions I was hoping to hear, this one ranks up there with “Where do you see yourself in five years?” or “Are you really going to wear that?”

There’s no outsmarting these situations. I don’t know this guy. I have no idea what he wants to hear. So I transition immediately to my second thought: Just tell him the truth. And here’s what I say.

“I consider myself the luckiest guy in the world, because I get to write, every day, for a living. I think what sets me apart from many of the writers you’ve seen so far — and probably much of your current creative staff too — is that I see this as the dream job. I’m not a frustrated novelist looking for a copywriting gig to pay the bills until I get discovered. This isn’t a steppingstone — it’s my end game. I get to be a writer. I bring a real joy and passion to my work that I don’t think most creatives do when they work in a corporate environment.”

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Yeah, I rambled. But he was smiling the whole time, so I kept going until I’d made my point.

And apparently I made it well, because they hired me, and this exec later told me that after hearing that response he would’ve given me the job on the spot if he didn’t first have to get the okay from the CEO.

Here’s what I learned from that experience — and from conducting an ongoing (although unscientific) poll ever since with employers who hire creative talent.

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One thing businesses often fear when they bring on creatives is that they’re never going to get our best work. Employers often view writers, graphic artists, web designers, video editors and other creatives — sometimes justifiably — as frustrated artists who’d rather be doing something else. At best, they reason, we’re just biding our time with them, doing so-so work, just enough not to get fired, until our dreams come true. At worst, we resent having to work for a business at all, and we’re doing pretty lousy work while spending most of our energy on our real passions.

That presents you with a great opportunity to differentiate yourself: Show your enthusiasm for the work by making the case that it’s what you love to do. I promise you: That’s what a lot of would-be employers and clients want to know before they bring you onboard, even if they don’t ask.

As a creative professional, you have a unique advantage here. I’m sure a tax accountant or an insurance underwriter can show enthusiasm in a job interview. But let’s be honest: Not many kids grow up thinking, I want to be an associate manager of transportation logistics.

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You, on the other hand, can make the obvious case that, yes, you’ve always wanted to be an artist. So of course you’re genuinely enthusiastic about this Graphic Designer job in the company’s marketing department. It means you get to be an artist, all day, for a living — just like you’ve always wanted. Incredibly, very few creative professionals even try to make this case in job interviews.

Now, you might be thinking, Wait a minute. I’m not enthused about the Graphic Designer job in the office. I want to draw comics. My advice here applies only if you can honestly say you’re excited about a creative position. And if you don’t think that’s the case — if you consider working for any business a necessary evil until your dream job comes along — then I have one more suggestion. Perhaps the person you need to convince how incredibly lucky you are to be able to do this type of work isn’t a potential employer — it’s you.

Yes, designing marketing collateral and icon sets for a big tech company might not be as fun as drawing an animated TV series. But it’s drawing. You actually get to wake up every morning and go to “work” drawing. How close do you think the work tax accountants do all day is to their dream jobs?

We creative types are the lucky ones. Convince yourself. Then convince your would-be employer. It opens doors — I promise!

Featured photo credit: Dream Job Exit Sign via shutterstock.com

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robbie hyman

Copywriter

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Last Updated on November 19, 2018

How to Find a Suitable Professional Mentor

How to Find a Suitable Professional Mentor

I went through a personal experience that acted as a catalyst for an epiphany. When I got fired from a job, I learned something important about myself and where I was headed with my freelance career. I realized that the most important aspect of that one rather small job was the influence of the company owner. I realized that I wasn’t hurt that the company and I weren’t a perfect match; I was devastated by the stark fact that I needed a mentor and I had almost found one but lost her.

Suddenly, I felt like J.D., the main character in “Scrubs,” chasing Dr. Cox and trying to rip insight and wisdom from someone I respect. The realization that a recognized thought-leader and experienced entrepreneur severed ties with me felt crushing. But, I picked myself back up and thought about five ways to acquire a mentor without having the awkwardness of outright asking.

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1. Remember, a professional mentorship must be mutual.

A professional mentor must agree to engage in a mutual relationship because, as the comedy T.V. series showed us, one simply cannot force someone to tutor us. We have to prove that we are worth the time investment through persistence and dedication to the craft.

2. You have to have common interests with your mentor.

Even if a professional mentor appears at your job or school, realize that unless you and this person have common interests, you won’t find the relationship successful. I’ve been in situations where someone I respected had vastly different ideas about what was important in life or what one should spend his or her free time doing. If these things don’t line up, you may find the relationship won’t be as fruitful, even when the mentor knows a great deal about one industry.

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3. Thought-leaders will respect your passion.

One of the ways you can prove yourself worthy to a professional mentor is through your passion and your dedication. No one wants to spend time grooming and teaching another who will not take advice or put the effort in to improve. When following thought-leaders on Twitter and trying to engage with higher-ups in a work setting, realize that your actions most often speak louder than your words.

4. Before worrying if he respects you, ask if you respect him.

On the other side of the coin, you should seriously reflect on those common interests and make sure you respect your professional mentor. Just because someone holds a title, degree or office does not mean that person is trustworthy or honest. Don’t be swayed by appearances and take the time to find a suitable professional mentor.

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5. Failure is often the best way to learn

I honestly have made more mistakes than I can count. I know I’ve learned a great deal from poorly organized businesses and my own poor choices. The most important quality I’ve developed is an ability to swallow my pride and learn from my mistakes. If life knocks me down nine times, I get back up 10 times. One of the songs Megadeth wrote, “Of Mice and Men,” resonates in my mind when I pull myself up by my bootstraps and try again for a goal I’ve set: “So live your life and live it well. There’s not much left of me to tell. I just got back up each time I fell.” Hopefully, this brief post can act as a professional mentor to you in your quest to find not only a brave leader but also a trusted adviser.

Featured photo credit: morguefile via mrg.bz

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