How to Land the Job: How the digital world has transformed the process of interviewing.

Posted by IAB Australia On March 28, 2014


It’s been a long time since I had to interview candidates for an open role where I had to do all the work. From writing/posting the JD, reading CV’s, long listing, shortlisting, interviews and finally appointments. To be honest, I kind of miss the days when, as the CEO, I would be presented with two shiny, happy, qualified candidates and asked to choose between the two. But, as with all things in a “startup”*, I am continually learning. It’s from this perspective that I write my first blog (and hopefully many others) for the IAB: This one on the topic of interviewing, and specifically how technology has disrupted the traditional process.

I was shocked at the distance between the best candidates (who I hired), and those who had a lot of opportunity for improvement. The gap was so evident that it got me thinking about why this would be the case. Then it struck me – I wonder if anybody has really articulated what it takes, these days, to interview for a role? So, here is my list – it’s non-exhaustive, I’m sure there are more, but this is what stuck out to me:

1) If you want the job you need to use the product: Seriously, on one of the interviews the candidate mentioned that she had been too busy to actually download and use our product. That was a showstopper for me, but I paid for the lattes. It was over in eight minutes. This is about preparation and research. With all of the tools available now, you need to know about the company, who they are, what they do, why they are in the news. More than just the “about us” page. You can expect to do about ten hours, yes, ten hours of research per company. When you get to the meeting you need to have an understanding of the business, the industry and the competitors. What do you think are the two biggest issues that company is facing?

2) I’ve read your CV, so you don’t need to do it for me: We all have enormous digital, social and professional footprints. Chances are, I know more about you than you care to share by the time you sit down. So you need to talk about things that people don’t know about you. Not that you hate brussels sprouts, but what are you passionate about? If an interview is 45 minutes, it’s up to you to manage that time. If you want to waste it by giving me a blow by blow on your career, I’m going to let you. But I won’t hire you.

3) Your skills don’t matter – your behaviors and views really do: I recently wrote a piece on behaviors which was published in Women’s Agenda, which you can find here. It’s easy for me to check up on whether or not you can do what you say you can do (see point 2), but I need to see how you think. I have a few questions prepared that help me to do this. For example, as you take your seat I might ask “why, do you think, in this day and age of mobile, flexible hours and remote working, that we still have peak hour on our roads?”. And I’m looking for your response. If you answer that working hours start at 9, then you may not get across the line. But it you start to wonder out loud if it’s to do with the school run, the lack of broadband penetration, fixed shift working hours, lack of understanding about benefits of flexibility at board level, etc., then at least we have a conversation on our hands. And that’s what I’m looking for.

4) Be warm, be personal, and be human. Particularly if that’s what you value in the culture you are going to. I know that it can be nerve wracking, but as my mother would say, everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time. It’s just an interview. Oh, and you should totally actually look like your LinkedIn photo.

As I said, this list is just a start. I’d be interested to hear what you think, or what your experiences have been. Unless they were with me 🙂

*Technically speaking, I’m not a startup. I am a subsidiary of a much larger listed corporation, but as its maiden subsidiary, everything is literally a first.

IAB Australia

IAB Australia is the peak trade association for online advertising in Australia. As one of over 43 IAB offices globally and with a rapidly growing membership, the role of the IAB is to support sustainable and diverse investment in digital advertising across all platforms in Australia.