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4 common marketing interview questions and how to answer them

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Does the thought of an interview make you feel anxious? Do you feel like you don’t understand why the interviewer is asking you a certain question?

Or perhaps you feel like you have the answers in your head, but they never come out they way you want them to?

The first thing to know is you’re not alone!

Ask anyone how they feel about their upcoming interview and you’ll be met with varying degrees of anxiety and worry.

Very few people look forward to an interview, we often find it hard to ‘sell’ ourselves for fear of being seen as over confident or arrogant, but it’s worth remembering, this isn’t the time to play your skills and experience down, if you don’t tell your interviewer how good you are – who will?

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 we come across every day.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself?

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 an interviewer feels!

The whole point of this question is to just understand a little more about your professional background, your career journey, and to get a little insight into your character.

They DON’T want to hear your whole life story, so think about the ‘headlines’ of your background and think about what is most pertinent for an interviewer to know about you.

Your school work experience and cycling proficiency badge can be left out of this one! This question is often a ‘warm up’ for both parties and helps to set the scene for the rest of the interview.

How to answer this question:

The approach you want to take here is to summarise your background, interests, and ambitions in a few sentences. Some insight into your educational background, a brief history of your roles to date, highlighting your key achievements such as promotions or real stand out moments and a little insight into what you like to do outside of your professional life is perfect.

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. 

2. 'Can you tell me about a time when you....'

Let’s face it – when you hear from your recruiter that your upcoming interview is going to be competency based, your heart sinks … 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.

How to approach a scenario based question

The truth is, these sorts of questions are less about the actual scenario and more about what you actually did in these circumstances, as well as 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

Scenario question and answer 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.”

3. 'How confident are you working with marketing budget restraints?'

As we all know, whatever marketing team you’re in, you will have to work to a budget!

The interviewer will need to know that if they were to hire you, that you can effectively work within budget restraints, whilst maximising impact and ROI.

How to answer this question

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;

“I’m comfortable working with budget restraints. In fact, I expect to always be delivering excellent ROI. While I was at XXX, I was given the task to create and roll out a low-cost lead generation strategy alongside marketing campaigns with a minimal budget. I managed to not only complete this within the budget but I 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.

4. 'Can you give me an example of a marketing campaign that you ran which did not succeed?'

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.

How to approach this question

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 encounter situations that didn’t go according to plan. If you’ve attempted something and not got the results you expected or hoped for, admit it. How are we supposed to learn and progress if we can’t identify the issue in the first place?

2. Keep a positive mindset

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

3. Turn a negative into a positive

Probably the most important piece of advice!

It’s important to explain the adjustments that you made to make the campaign more successful, or what you identified as the key issue and how you ensured this wouldn’t happen again.

This will show the interviewer that even though your original plan didn’t succeed, you were mature enough to accept that and adjusted 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.

Just a final point -NEVER try to just ‘wing it’ in an interview. Those that do rarely succeed!

You need to prepare as much as possible. Research the firm, think about your achievements and how to translate them as commercially as possible to your interviewer so they can see the benefit and value you can bring.

Have a trial run with your recruiter, prepare some more and keep tweaking your answers until you feel as confident as possible. Remember, being confident in your interview does not equate to arrogance, so own your answers!

Good luck!

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