I want to work in Advertising

Find out how you can start a career in advertising. Here we list potential job roles and some of the leading companies in that sector.

Job roles

There are five main areas of work within advertising agencies, to which graduates of any discipline may be recruited:

  • Account executives are the link between the agency and the client. They co-ordinate all aspects of the planning, production and implementation of advertising campaigns, working with colleagues, clients and outside organisations.
  • Media planners/buyers place advertisements to achieve optimum impact, deciding on the appropriate timing, vehicle etc to reach maximum target audience at minimum price.
  • Account planners are concerned with research, analysis and strategic thinking. They are “the consumer’s representative at the agency”, ensuring that campaigns receive input from those at whom the products and advertising are aimed and that they are accurately focused.
  • “Creatives" (copywriters and art directors) provide the message (verbal and/or visual) that will sell the product, according to the brief determined with client and colleagues.
  • Also see digital marketing

Elements of advertising exist in most businesses and across all sectors; see below for qualities required:

  • communication skills,
  • commercial awareness,
  • creativity,
  • attention to detail,
  • analytical skills,
  • leadership qualities,
  • initiative,
  • enthusiasm,
  • organisational ability,
  • energy and stamina,
  • ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines.

Marketing, advertising and PR - read more on Prospects

Experience is very important at the start of a career in advertising. Many opportunities exist for gaining experience through internships during your degree or as a graduate.


Professional bodies

Advertising Agencies

For a full list of agencies recruiting graduates, see the IPA Factfile under www.ipa.co.uk/careers

Recruitment Agencies

Most advertising agencies will not use recruitment agencies to fill entry-level positions – they receive more than enough speculative applications – but there are some specialist agencies

  • Pathfinders Media Recruitment www.pathfindersrecruitment.com specialises in finding first career opportunities for new graduates in the media including Advertising, PR, Broadcasting, Publishing, New Media, Events Management, Marketing, Music and the Arts.

Job Sites


Find out more

Institute of Practitioners in Advertising Diagonal Thinking Self-assessment Tool

This online tool is designed to help individuals see for themselves whether they have the distinctive and uncommon ability to think in two complementary ways, their brains oscillating between linear or rational thinking and creative or lateral thinking. These characteristics, often thought to be contradictory, produce a potent mix which is particularly apposite to working in advertising.
Applicants can complete the self-test online and receive a certificate which can be used in conjunction with their application for one of the various roles in the advertising industry. 
Potential application and interview questions

  • If you had 24 hours to live, how would you spend it?
  • List 10 things you could do with a coat hanger.
  • You awake from a coma after 15 years: what has changed?
  • You are in a totally white room: describe your surroundings without using the word "white"
  • What do you think this question should be?

Interview questions for an on-line copywriter post

  • What experience of software packages do you have?
  • How did you use your skills to suit the packages you worked on?
  • How much editing/proof-reading were you required to do on your articles?
  • What experience have you had with CMS (Content Mgt Systems)?
  • Have you had any editorial roles?
  • How have you increased an internet site's traffic?
  • How have you used social media in your publications?
  • How could your improve our social media gathering?

Questions Kent graduates have been asked at interviews for posts in advertising

  • Why do you want to work in advertising? (Grey, Ogilvy, TBWA)
  • What is your favourite advertisement and why? (Grey, Ogilvy, TBWA)
  • What is your least favourite advertisement and why? (Grey, TBWA)
  • Name an ad campaign that hasn't worked and why? (Grey)
  • What do you watch on TV?
  • Tell me about your work experience?
  • What newspapers do you read?
  • Why do you want to work for our agency in particular? (Grey, Ogilvy)
  • One thing in your life you are least proud of?
  • Have you ever been in a situation where you have led a team?
  • If you could go back or forward in time – where and why would you go?
  • If you could have designed any building, which one would it be and why?
  • Have you read any books on advertising? (Ogilvy)
  • What makes a good advertising campaign? (Ogilvy)
  • Do you know a campaign which has actually made a company worse off? (Ogilvy)
  • What will you do if you don't get into advertising. (TBWA)
  • Think of a situation when you have had to bring other people around to your view point. (TBWA)
  • What experience of teamwork/leadership do you have.  (TBWA)
  • What do you like about our agency. (TBWA)
  • Questions to assess how sharp you are e.g. "Think of a photo of a group of men in the 1930's 1940's and even 1950's. They are all wearing hats. Imagine a group of men in the 1960's. They are not wearing hats. Why?" (Ogilvy)

Tests and group exercises used in the selection process

  • Creative/divergent thinking test: 10 questions, 4 minutes to answer each one by writing down as many solutions as you could.
  • Pick an advert (they gave you a choice of 5) and along with another candidate had to do a ‘Pitch' to the interviewers.
  • A five minute oral presentation. We had to take in an object which we felt represented us and talk about it for five minutes.
  • We were given a product and asked to come up with an advertising campaign for it. We then had to present our ideas to the rest of the interviewees and about ten interviewers, all from different parts of the agency. In this case, it was for Ski yogurt. We were given a brief and we were told to go into our groups (4 people) and we had four hours to come up with a way of relaunching the product and then make a fifteen minute presentation explaining it.
  • Individual interviews: discussed a script for a new advertisement.
  • In groups of 5:
    • Pitch design and cost an ad campaign.
    • Come up with a new product, name it and pitch it.
    • Team board game: logical thinking, maths and verbal tasks along the way..


  • Try to relax: talk to as many of the assessors as possible.
  • Be confident.
  • Don't try and be too "different" or "out there." It's advertising but the most important thing is to be yourself.
  • Research the agency and its main competitors. Make sure you know some of its ads.
  • Make sure you make the interviewers aware that you have other interests apart from advertising.
  • Nobody is out to catch you out. They just want to assess whether you would be right for the particular company so they will take an easy going attitude at the interview. Be the same but do not be fooled by this and start chatting to the interviewers as if they were old friends. It is likely to be an informal interview but remember why they are having this "chat" with you.

Other useful information sources

  • Campaign Magazine – read by everybody in the advertising business and you should read it too if you are at all interested in advertising. The website also links to a downloadable “Campaign Careers Guide” www.brandrepublic.com/magazines/campaign
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