Thursday, 17 December 2009

Watford: 'the Oxbridge of advertising'

So yesterday I went to Watford for my interview.
It was a very interesting experience and I learnt a lot...
Or rather - so much of what I already suspected was brought home, big time.
About originality, simplicity, what to put in my book. It was an awakening of sorts.

At the moment I doubt I got on, but they sometimes give you a second shot at the interview a couple of months down the line. I'm reluctant to go into too much detail just yet, because knowing what to expect is a real advantage, and the last thing I want to do is help someone nab my place on the 2010 course!
Apparently Tony has already given away 10 of the 25 slots to last year's deferees. That was quite a surprise considering this was the first round of interviews.
I'll let you in on the structure of the day though, just so you know what I went through.
It was a bit like masterchef!

I was up against four other candidates (one who worked for JWT Paris and had flown in from France). I think it should have been five, but there was a no-show. Here's what Tony had us do:

1. A quiz on the industry. One minute to answer ten questions.
2. Go away for an hour and a half and prepare:
i. Responses to a live brief (ours was 'Think of ways to make people turn down their mp3 players on public transport'). One minute to present.
ii. A speech on one person from a list (Steve McQueen, Charles Bukowski, Alain Robert to name a few). One minute to present.
iii. Show your portfolio of work. Two minutes to present.

In the quiz, I managed to beat the other four candidates by two clear points with a meagre score of four! I did quite badly, but everyone else did worse.
One of the questions was 'Who is x factor winner Joe McElderry moving into a flat with?'
Despite watching the whole of The X Factor, I hadn't a clue.
The question was to see whether you read the tabloids or not.
Apart from that, I was revising the right sort of thing last week - creative directors names, agency initials, current clients.

As for the presentations, I didn't do so well.
They were done in front of Tony and four current Watford students.
Two candidates scored better than me, two scored worse.
He liked my portfolio and gave that six out of ten; quite positive feed back really.
He said I had lots of good devices and knew how ads worked structurally.
I'm glad about that and I now know exactly what I need to work on.

He's letting us know the verdict by post in January.
As I say, I've got my fingers crossed for a second shot.
I was so nervous I couldn't eat and if I hadn't read snippets of what to expect on other people's blogs, I'd have been even worse. That said, I can see why Tony keeps it a secret. He wants to see what you know and what you're like naturally - not how much you can prepare for what you know is coming. That's another reason I'm not giving too much away!


  1. Might he be reading your blog right now? It'll all be different next time around now lol!

    But seriously, good luck, I hope you made a good impression. What an opportunity!

    I'd be a bit worried about the tabloid thing myself, I'm more of a Guardian/Campaign kind of person. I guess if we are serving the masses our advertising, we need to know what they're reading; it probably isn't the Guardian, and it certainly isn't Campaign. But the Sun just makes my head hurt.