The most common interview questions for marketers and how to approach them

The most common interview questions for marketers and how to approach them

Published on 20th April 2017

Do you struggle with interviews? Do you feel like you don’t understand why the interviewer is asking you a certain question? Or feel like you have the answers in your head but they never come out as you want them to? You’re not alone!

A great part of being a recruiter is being able to have in-depth conversations with hundreds of employers about their interview processes and what it is they are really looking for. The information provided gives us great insight into how employers think, and how our candidates can be best prepared for their interview.

Here are a few of the most common interview questions for marketing candidates that I come across every day.

Tell us a bit about yourself

The Question

Have you ever asked someone in a social setting (perhaps at the pub or gym or even on a date) about themselves and they just go on and on and on? Well, this is sometimes how the interviewer feels. The whole point of this question is to just understand; a little more about your professional background, what you’re looking for, and in some situations, what you get up to in your social life. What they DON’T want to hear is your whole life story.

The Approach

The approach you want to take here is to summarise your background, interests, and ambitions in a few sentences. End the answer by stating what sort of role you’re now looking for and why you feel you are qualified. This will give the interviewer an overall idea of your ambitions and why you’re sitting in front of them. 

Scenario based questions

The Question

Let’s face it – when you hear from your recruiter that your upcoming interview is going to be competency based, you think the worst…but don’t worry! The best thing about these questions is that they’re based on YOUR experience and who better to relay your background than YOU? However, time and time again people trip up on these sorts of questions for the wrong reasons…

The Approach

The truth is, these sorts of questions are less about the actual scenario and more about how you word the answer. I would recommend breaking this question up into 3 parts;

  1. The scenario (a weakness, campaign, project, conflict etc...)
  2. The action you took to improve the situation
  3. The outcome

Example

Q: Can you tell me about a time when you have experienced a conflict with someone in the team?

A: [SCENARIO] “When I was working for XXX company, I was working in a team of 5 on a marketing campaign. One of the team members wasn’t pulling their weight and contributing to the team, meaning we were behind our original timeline.
[ACTION] I noticed this and spoke privately with them to identify the problem. It appeared that it was a simple case of them not understanding how to efficiently use the CRM system. I offered my help to run through this with them [OUTCOME] and before we knew it they were contributing to the project and we actually launched the campaign early with fantastic results.”

The interviewer just wants to identify that you can confidently face an issue ‘head on’ and take the appropriate action in order to achieve a successful outcome.

How confident are you working with marketing budget restraints?

The Question

As we all know, whatever marketing team you’re in you will have to work to the dreaded budget! The interviewer will need to know that if they were to hire you, that you can effectively work within budget restraints.

The Approach

Most interview questions about the future should be brought back to achievements of the past. Your answer should focus on any projects or campaigns that you’ve worked on such as;

“While I was at XXX, I was given the task to create and roll out a low-cost generation strategy alongside marketing campaigns with a minimal budget. I managed to not only complete this within the budget but also got excellent feedback on the quality of my work”.

You can then go on to talk about it in more depth if need be, but this is an excellent way to get straight to the point.

Can you give me an example of a marketing campaign that you used which did not succeed?

The Question

This always feels like a strange question. Why is the interviewer asking you about a failure? Talking about something where you succeeded is one thing, but explaining a failure is much harder. The interviewer asks this question because they are fully aware that in any marketing role you WILL experience a situation where your tactic doesn’t work out the way you want it to... that’s how we learn and improve. What they’re asking for here is for you to reassure them that, should an event take place that doesn’t go to plan, you can overcome it, reflect and react, in an appropriate way.

The Approach

For questions about circumstances where a certain activity did NOT work out, there are a number of things to consider.

  1. Be truthful – we all go through failures. If you’ve attempted something and failed, admit it. How are we supposed to learn and progress if we can’t identify the issue in the first place?

  2. Remember to maintain a positive mindset during your answer. Don’t get defensive as this will appear like you’re making excuses.

  3. Probably the most important piece of advice… Turn a negative into a positive! It’s important to explain the adjustments that you made in order to make the campaign more of a success. This will show the interviewer that even though your original plan didn’t succeed, you were mature enough to accept that and adjust your strategy to come out on top.


So there you have it! A few of the most common interview questions for marketers and how to approach them. Next time you’re prepping for an interview, think about some of these and try putting them to the test using your own scenarios.

If you have any questions on this or are looking to take the next step in your career, then feel free to get in touch with me: Mathew.reeves@ambition.co.uk