As our Director of People Success at Hennessey Digital, I love finding the right roles for people and guiding our team members to new opportunities at the company. To that end, I’m sharing my tips and ideas on how to land your dream job in digital marketing.
To set the stage, here’s a scenario you may have experienced…
You’ve finally found it: the perfect job. You read the job description, you know the company. The more you research the position, the better it sounds.
You apply, wait, and hear nothing. Or worse, you go through the interview process, and then… crickets.
You know you have what it takes. It’s a slam-dunk: you’ve got the right experience and you did your homework on the company.
What went wrong?
Interviewing tips from an HR expert
First off, it’s a full-time job to land any new position, but especially your dream job. Candidates should customize their résumé for each job posting they apply to.
Taking it a step further, I always advise candidates to take the time to thoroughly prepare for their interview.
If you’re not prepping for your interview for at least an hour, you risk being declined for the position early in the process. Read and understand the job description and take time to understand the company. Major red flags come up when someone says they like working for giant corporations, and we’re a company of 120 people.
It’s great when we find the right candidate for an open position. When there’s a perfect fit, it seems like the stars align.
But there’s no such thing as the “perfect” candidate. We all have areas to improve, but the good news is that we all have room to grow. Potential and a positive attitude go far in the interview process!
Why the digital marketing job search is different
It’s no secret that remote jobs are gaining serious traction. As a 100%-virtual company, we’re not limited to one geographic area to recruit top talent. This is great for us, and also makes the competition fierce when a position does come open.
We get hundreds of resumes for any given job we post, so it’s important to cultivate a strong personal brand that stands out from the pack.
We see a lot of candidates who have creativity, passion, and knowledge. They meet the job requirements with the right skills and abilities. I want to see more from candidates we hire, and I look for an edge. Who goes above and beyond to make their résumé memorable? That’s who makes the initial cut.
Marketing has a higher turnover rate than other industries. When we recruit for new team members, we look for tenure and continuity in past or current jobs. If you’re employed at an organization for longer than 3 years, you’ll stand out as a potential candidate.
Now for the really good stuff! Here are my top interview tips for landing your dream job in digital marketing.
Tips for job interview success
At Hennessey Digital, we look for smart, driven, genuine people who will be a great addition to our culture. And the initial interview is how we can learn more about you.
Be genuine and show sincere interest in the position. Explain why you feel you’re a good fit. Trying to be someone you’re not will only lead to a mismatch and misunderstandings.
At Hennessey Digital, we’re proud of who we are and how we do things. The 127 Code of Honor is our “rules for the road” for how we make decisions and treat each other. It’s on our website as a reminder to us, but also for potential team members to see. If you work like we do, you’ll be a good fit for our team!
Don’t be afraid to put your best self out there in the interview. This leads to genuine conversations and helps you and the interviewer be candid about the job.
Be honest about your work experience
As a longtime HR professional, I’ve heard it all. (Interviewers can smell dishonesty a mile away, trust me.)
We all have a job that didn’t work out: maybe we were fired, laid off, or let go with no explanation. It’s unfortunately common, so don’t be embarrassed. Just because you weren’t a fit there doesn’t mean you won’t fit here.
If you’re asked about a gap in employment or the circumstances of you leaving a job, be honest. If you were in the wrong, demonstrate to potential employers how you’ve learned and are better for it now. If you can, share a brief story about how you took what you learned and applied it to a situation later on.
And when it comes to job experience, don’t lie about meeting requirements that you don’t have. Explain how other work experiences will help make up for the gap. Transferable skills and creativity count!
Be prepared, but not scripted
Being prepared for your interview is step one. But overpreparing to the point of scripting your responses can backfire.
I know from experience!
I once thought I was the perfect candidate for a job I really wanted. To improve my chances, I asked for the hiring manager’s interview style and questions beforehand from the recruiter, who was impressed by my willingness to prepare.
But during the interview, I found myself reading my perfectly scripted notes. It was so awkward that I couldn’t recover.
Remember that it’s an interview, not a screen test. Prepare, but don’t read your word-for-word answers to interviewers’ questions. Scripted responses will make you seem stiff and less confident.
Test your technology
It’s Murphy’s Law. Our technology will fail at the worst possible time, like right when you’re trying to join a video interview call.
Work ahead and test your system as much as you can before the interview. Have a backup plan and download the app for the meeting software the company uses to your phone. (Heads up: we use Zoom at Hennessey Digital.) If your computer crashes, have another device ready just in case.
If your Plan B fails too, just stay calm and troubleshoot. Employers like to see how you perform under pressure. Things happen, and good employers will have empathy for your situation.
What NOT to do in the job interview
Now you’ve learned ways to set yourself up for success. What should you not do if you want to land the digital marketing job of your dreams?
Don’t be slow to respond
Recruiters and hiring managers are always impressed with a quick response time. Always respond to emails from the same day, or at the absolute latest, the next business day.
The digital marketing world moves fast, so you need to demonstrate you can keep up with the pace of business.
Don’t be late, reschedule multiple times, or no-show
Recruiters and hiring managers are busy, especially in digital marketing. The likelihood of getting a second chance to reschedule an interview is low. If you’re late to your interview, apologize and give an explanation for why you were late.
If a true emergency comes up, give the interviewer a heads-up right away. Things do happen, and a good employer will understand.
Don’t trash a previous employer
Even if you’ve worked for the worst company in the world, a job interview isn’t the appropriate place to talk about it. Trashing a prior employer or manager shows you have a poor attitude and likely won’t be a culture fit.
What did a bad experience at a previous employer teach you? Frame these negative experiences as questions for the interviewer that will help you learn about the company. For example: “I’ve learned through past roles that communication is very important to me. Can you talk about how I would get information to do my job effectively? How does the company encourage communication?”
Don’t give generic answers
You’ll probably be asked “what is most interesting to you about this position?” or “why do you want to work here?” Be ready with a response that shows you’ve researched the company. Illustrate in detail how you’re a good fit for them.
Interviewers expect answers that are customized to the job you’re applying for. Why are you interested in their company specifically? Saying “I’m a hard worker” is a generic statement that you could say in any interview. You’ve probably heard of behavioral interviewing questions, and you should be prepared to answer these. We want to hear your stories! Be specific in your responses and don’t speak in vague hypotheticals. This makes us wonder about your experience.
Investigate. Read up on the company culture and learn about how they work. In your interview, tie the job requirements back to your work experience. This paints a picture for how you fit into the company and the job itself.
Don’t skip the opportunity to ask questions
Failing to ask good questions is a telltale sign of not doing your research. Google can give you hundreds of potential questions to ask in an interview!
Even if the interviewer answered all your “big” things, asking questions shows a genuine interest and thirst for learning more and becoming an educated participant in the hiring process. Ask about the people you would interview with next, what their style is, and what their advice is for succeeding at the company.
The question portion of an interview gives candidates open and direct access to insider information. Use it as an opportunity to gain knowledge, do further research, and impress the next interviewer.
How to land your dream job in digital marketing
In the market for your dream job? Hennessey Digital is hiring!
We’re always looking for top talent in SEO, engineering, and people who love digital marketing as much as we do.
Check out our open positions and remember our tips for how to land your dream job in digital marketing.
Bonus points for mentioning this blog post in your interview!