I applied for a number of advertising agency grad schemes in 2008. Filling out the application forms was as time consuming as keeping up a full time job, with questions ranging from strange to absurd. I get that advertising is a sociable industry and the questions are designed to acquire an understanding of not only your abilities and skills but your personality also. However, I can’t help but think that some of the questions are trying too hard to be creative and ‘whacky’. An agencies application form is almost an advert in itself, trying to communicate their ‘fun’ brand to prospective employees.
I found it very difficult to know how best to answer the questions at first…you can’t help but think ‘right, how do I think they would want me to answer this question?’ or wonder how they will read into certain responses. But, at the end of the day you are playing a numbers game, and you’ve no way of knowing what sort of person will be reading your application form. My only advice would be to be yourself and answer all questions honestly, that way they won’t be able to tuck you up should you make it to a first round interview.
From my applications I had a handful of rejections (pah! What do they know!), two first round interviews and one second round. Surprisingly my success was with the two agencies I thought would be the toughest to get through; M&C Saatchi and DDB. My first round at M&C went okay and my DDB first round went brilliantly (or so I thought…), however, ironically, I then got rejected from DDB and made it to the second round of M&C.
Second round…hmmm, I had no idea what to expect being new to the whole graduate recruitment scene. It was an experience and I gained a lot from the day, however, I would not go as far as to say that I enjoyed myself, or had a whale of a time, least not until they brought out the beer! I know that I have what it takes to make it in advertising and my qualifications speak for themselves, but I couldn’t help feeling out of place. I was a welsh country girl in a room full of very well spoken and well presented Oxford and Cambridge students, don’t get me wrong, I have no prejudices against them and most of the people that I met were lovely, however I quickly realised that this method of recruitment may not be for me.
So, it came as no surprise when I didn’t get offered a place (still making it to the final 35 out of over 750 is not bad). My feedback was that I was a little quiet and somewhat of a shrinking violet. I was advised that I need to have more confidence in my abilities and that I am more talented than I realise. This made the rejection a little less harsh!
Anyway, I don’t think I will be rushing to apply for the 2009 schemes, I’m going to focus more on the back door!