Jon King talks hiring philosophies
Jon King, Managing Director, Possible London.
During his four years at Possible, Jon has helped deliver digital campaigns, interface design projects, mobile apps and design and build projects for clients such as Orange, Freesat, Nokia and the BBC.
Prior to joining Possible Worldwide he was Marketing Director of Virgin Media Television where he oversaw the launch of the first ever Virgin branded TV channel, Virgin1, and commissioned award winning work for shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and America’s Next Top Model.
Before becoming a client, Jon spent ten years in advertising mainly at DDB London and Lowe. He worked on a wide variety of brands across different sectors but highlights include, Volkswagen, Marmite, The Labour Party and Stella Artois.
Jon is a graduate of Girton College, Cambridge. Before attending University Jon lived in Paris for a year working for Pernod Ricard.
Who was your best ever hire and why?
I’ve always believed that talent can come from anywhere, and this story proves that. I was working at Lowe and I used to get my lunch in the office canteen every day. There was a fantastic girl working behind the counter and we got talking. She was so impressive that I poached her to come and be the team PA. She was great - committed, enthusiastic, and she did a great job. She consequently worked her way up through the Account Management ranks and now she’s a senior marketing client in the travel industry. She was a great hire because she really wanted to make the most of that opportunity. It didn’t feel like a risk but it certainly paid off.
What most impresses you in an interview?
The old BMP recruitment philosophy was hire ‘nice bright people’ and it’s a pretty good starting point. I like people that chat a bit, open up, relax enough to show their personality. I like someone with a point of view, I don’t want the obvious or repetition of received wisdom, I’m impressed when I hear something interesting that makes me think, and when I can see a person’s passion and their personality revealed.
From a digital perspective, I’m impressed by those that can talk articulately about failed as well as successful projects that they’ve worked on - because our business is relatively young it’s important to demonstrate real experience and learnings gathered along the way.
Finally demonstrating good communication skills – I’m impressed when people can take a case study and talk from a high level about the strategy or the key issues, but also get down to the detail or the execution. You can’t underestimate the power of good written and verbal communication skills.
What would be your one hot tip to someone coming to be interviewed by you?
If I like someone and the interview is going well, the final question I always ask them is to name their three key strengths and three key weaknesses. Very rarely can people talk coherently about their weaknesses.
Always be nice to the person who collects you from reception. I’ll always ask them what their impression was. I need to see what a candidate is like with other people and want to make sure they are not arrogant or high handed. They are joining an agency, not just coming to work for me.
How do you and your company attract and retain top talent?
This is really important for us because there is a talent scarcity in the digital world, particularly in the areas of strategy and user experience design. Having a clear strategy and strong point of view attracts talented people, our approach to the work is important to like-minded souls. Then the strengths of our own team - dynamic, respected, high profile leaders – help to bring in talent.
Culturally, we do our best to make sure people work on good projects and clients, we incentivise them and we try to surprise and delight with spontaneous rewards and recognition. A public thank you goes a long way to making people feel that their work is valued.
Jon was talking to Annabelle King.