Preparation for Marketing Interviews

With the Final Placements season upon us now, interview preparations are in full swing. Candidates have either chosen the domains that they want to apply in or have kept an open mind and are taking everything into consideration. I had prepared for firms offering a role in Sales and Marketing and hence, through this article, I would like to shed some light on my views on how to prepare for such interviews.

Marketing interviews, just like any other interview, should be approached as a conversation between the interviewer and the interviewee. It should be seen as a means of each getting to know the other better. However the domain-specific focus areas for the same can be listed as follows:-

Brands – Candidates should be aware of the different brands that there are in the market, especially in the industry that the particular company belongs to. She should be prepared with at least one brand that she likes and at least one that she does not, and must be articulate about the reasons for choosing them. There can also be questions on the different parameters that she looks at while deciding whether a brand is a success or a failure. The concept of 4Ps should be looked into when answering questions on brand understanding.

Advertisements – Interviewers love to know the opinions of candidates on a particular ad. Ad Analysis, as it is commonly called, should be right up there on the candidate’s pecking order of interview preparation. The interviewer can ask her about an ad that she likes and maybe one that she does not and why. It pays off to bring into the discussion not just the most recent ad of the product, but also the series of ads that the company has come out with over the years, if possible. An emphasis on Segmentation, Target, and Positioning should be placed while analysing various advertisements.

Product Portfolio – Candidates should be well aware of the different products/brands owned by different companies. Even if one forgets a particular brand of a company, she should never ever mix up brands of two different companies. There can be questions asked on the product mix that a particular company currently has in the market. The candidate should keep the ‘Ansoff Matrix’ (Market Penetration, Market Expansion, Product Expansion, and Diversification) in mind when answering questions on this topic.

Digital Marketing – This is the hot new trend in the domain of marketing. Awareness about it is as important as having an opinion about it. On a broad level, the focus should be on Big Data and Social Media Marketing. The interviewer can ask questions about what is the kind of data that the candidate might like to capture if she were the Brand manager in the company and what kind of insights would she like to derive from it. Questions on social media marketing can be – what are the kind of customer engagement activities can you run on the different social media platforms, how do you integrate activities across platforms, etc. It might pay to talk about the concept on Integrated Marketing Communication when discussing about digital marketing.

Communication Skills – Interviewers are bound to test out a candidate’s communication and other soft skills. Apart from how she speaks, there would be special focus on whether she uses the proper salutation, the ‘Thank Yous’, the smile, the handshake, and the overall politeness. Persuasion and negotiation are critical if the role involves a sales stint of any kind. There can also be hypothetical questions on how would she handle tiffs between employees, what mode of communication would she adhere to in different situations, etc. It is important to maintain one’s composure and remain calm while fielding such questions

Points on the CV – This is one area where the candidate has the privilege of knowing more than the interviewer. Let’s face it – it’ her own CV after all! Hence, it is extremely important to be absolutely thorough with each and every point there. If a candidate has submitted different CVs to different companies, then she has to be all the more careful. The interviewer can ask about the background of any point and/or what has she learnt from it. Very often CV points are pathways to questions on personals. Interviewers highly appreciate if the candidate can relate real-life instances to her learnings from, say, a particular inter-college competition, or if she has held positions of responsibilities in areas where she has had a genuine interest or passion. That personal touch just makes all her answers very real.

It is not that focusing on these areas alone will ensure a smooth interview and guarantee a job offer to a candidate. But from my own experiences, I can say that many questions revolve around them and answering them correctly, definitely helps a candidate score brownie points with the interviewer. Before concluding, I would just like to quote a line from Guy Ritchie’s movie ‘Revolver’ – “Victory loves Preparation”.

All the very Best, everyone!