ADVO-biography: Tales from the interviewee’s chair.

Appearance is everything! I used to dress like this for work.

To protect the innocent – as well as the guilty – the following details are provided without reference to time or place. Just simply… noted.

The most provocative – and telling – thing a future boss ever said to me during an interview.
“Spank me!” he said with a hearty chuckle. The man interviewing me leaned back in his chair and kept smiling… and I wasn’t sure if he said “Spank me” in the sense of “Well, I’ll be!”, “Let’s see if you have a sense of humor,” or “Spank me!” We were alone in his office. So I just smiled back, said nothing, and.

I was offered the copywriter job a few days later.

The most important lesson I learned from interviewing.
“We’re just not sure you’ve got the right experience for this position,” the agency owner told me over the phone. I was devastated. I wanted this job SO bad – my dream job. And so I re-tooled my book, added a completely new creative flair and took it back in. More time passed, more phone calls, more letters…and then I was offered the copywriter job.

Within a year I was working somewhere else: the chemistry and environment wasn’t a fit. The lesson? If they don’t want you that bad, walk away. The right job and the right team will always have a certain tone – one that sweetens your senses like chocolate. Like the song says, I want them to want me. BAD. And ever since then, when I’ve felt that familiar tug of reluctance or apprehension, the warning lights flash in my head. I pay closer attention to what’s going on, cut my losses sooner rather than later, and never regret it.

The most embarrassing thing that ever happened at the end of an interview.
“Thanks for coming in,” the woman said as we closed out interview. Enthusiastically, I threw my hand out to meet hers — and the top button on my blouse flew off, and across the room at the same time. I instinctively brought my shoulders down and in, to try and prevent major cleavage reveal, and managed to turn away quickly and exit. Not sure if she saw. I never got my button back, but I was offered the job.

The best thing that ever happened during an interview – and then kept happening.
I went to the agency for an interview but they told me the boss was across the street at the bar and I was supposed to meet him there. When I walked in, he greeted me and we commenced with the usual introductory banter (and drinks, of course). After a few minutes of talking about my experience, I reached for the portfolio I had created especially for this man.

“No, no, I don’t care about that, I’m not even gonna look at it,” he said, waving it away. “XX said you’re good, and that’s why you’re here. If she says you can do it, that’s enough for me.” My shiny new portfolio sat all alone, ignored. I was offered the job the next day.

When I was studying advertising at Drake University, we were often told “You’re only as good as the work you just did –  not anything you did last year or the year before.” I still believe that. But I also know the other saying is true: it’s not what you know but who you know. And if you’re lucky, they’re damn good people who also like and respect you.


Up next:

My VERY first job in advertising: how I got it. The worst mistake I made there. The notes I wrote to myself when I was there. What I learned when looking back at that experience.


Hop back: ADVO-biography, Chapter 1.

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