I remember when I interviewed for my first entry-level agency role, fresh out of sixth form and ready to start my career in one of the world’s fastest growing industries.
The main appeal of said agency was the fact that it was around a 10-minute walk from my house at the time. At 17 years old, this seemed like a pretty great thing!
Although I don’t have any regrets when it comes to my career so far, I definitely went in there short sighted and without asking any of the real questions that I now understand are vital within the interview process.
First of all, you need to figure out why you want to work for an agency and what you hope to achieve.
Many people join entry-level agency roles to get their foot in the door without fully understanding what they want to do and what this means for them in the long term.
There are many branches of digital marketing, including:
- Social media
- Content creation
- Email marketing
- Design & development
Each of these branches cater to a different set of skills, opening the door to virtually anyone who is willing to put the time and effort in to becoming great at what they do – whether that be by utilising creative, mathematical or literary skills.
Many entry-level roles include a lot of generic tasks for implementing the above specialisms. Being fairly new in the industry, it is unlikely that you will know what you want to specialise in right away.
Making sure you have the freedom to learn new skills internally and the option to move to a different team is essential for your personal development and career progression.
For example, here at Coast we have a Knowledge Share session every Friday, where people can share ideas and teach the wider team about any development in their own field.
What you should find out about the agency
An interview is a sales pitch from both points of view. They’re trying to impress you as much as you’re trying to impress them.
This means that you need to be wary of some of the answers given. Not all agencies are going to be entirely truthful about, for example, their staff retention rate being under one year, or that the majority of their staff work late to catch up on their work.
That being said, here are some of the questions you need to be asking at whatever agency you’re interviewing with:
1 – How does your current client list look?
Quite often, agencies only feature the largest clients they have worked with, as opposed to their current client list. If all of their biggest clients have since departed, what is the reason for this?
2 – What is the retention rate for both clients and staff?
Asking this will highlight how both staff and clients are treated. A reputable agency will ensure that work is produced at a high quality (to help retain clients for longer) while also making sure that staff have a good work-life balance to keep morale high in the office.
3 – What are the agencies plans for growth?
Coast has recently celebrated its 17th birthday. This wouldn’t be achievable without both a strong leadership and a solid plan for growth. When joining an entry-level role, you probably won’t have the industry know-how around the general opinions of your local agencies. That’s why it’s very useful to look at how long the agency has been running for and how quickly it has grown.
Glassdoor is a website that showcases reviews from both current and former employees. While this does highlight some interesting details about the agency in question, this can also cause a few issues.
However, it’s still important to look at what is being said and the general trend in any negative comments for a rough idea of the internal opinions of staff members.
Agency ways of working
It is also useful to get a general idea of day-to-day happenings at the office to find out how the agency’s current system works. This will highlight the quality of service and any career progression opportunities.
- What tools do they use?
Find out what tools the agency uses to conduct their business. There are many tools available to digital marketers, some being of a higher quality than others. If an agency is investing heavily into the tools it uses, then this is a good sign that they really care about the work being produced.
- What is the internal structure and what career progression steps are in place?
Find out about the internal structure of the agency to get a better understanding of how far you can progress and how others have already moved upwards. This will also help you get a better idea of who you will be working for and how you can benefit from this from those with more experience.
- How is the work/life balance?
Having worked at a number of agencies where the work/life balance was virtually non-existent, coming to Coast was a breath of fresh air. In order to keep staff happy and morale high, a strong work/life balance is crucial and will ultimately dictate how much you enjoy your work over the following months/years.
Make sure you are confident that the agency you choose will help you start your career in the digital marketing industry. Just because you may lack experience, it doesn’t mean you should settle for a sub-par workplace.
They are not doing you a favour by hiring you, you are there to help THEM.
Here at Coast, we’re always on the lookout for motivated team players to join our growing digital agency. Keep an eye on our latest vacancies.