This past week I have been doing a lot of interviews, as Im hiring for a few roles on my team. I interview for various levels and different kinds of roles within marketing and I wanted to share a few tips on how you can make sure you nail your next job interview! Below are some key things to keep in mind:
1. Prepare. While you can't prepare for every single question someone is going to ask you, you can make sure that you have solid answers to the most common ones. A quick Google search will give you tons of suggestions, and its good to prepare answers for the classics, such as:
- tell us about yourself? This one you need to really practice, over and over! It should be very short and concise, max 2-3 minutes but it has to tell the interviewer why you're so great and why they need to hire you. This is your elevator pitch (yes exactly, what you'd tell people about yourself during the length of an elevator ride).
- why are you looking to make a move? Dont say that you dont get along with you boss, even if thats the case. You dont want the interviewer to start worrying about what happened, and if you are somehow difficult to work with. Its good to talk about career development here, or some sort of ambition as the reason for your move. Also, never EVER trash talk your old company. If you do it to them, you'll do it to us (big red flag for any interviewer).
- what are your biggest strengths? Make sure these are relevant to the role as much as possible, and give examples! "I'm really good at negotiating, and I saved my last company over $100k in six months" vs. just "Im really good at negotiating".
- what is an area of improvement for you? Here, its best to talk about an actual issue that you have overcome or are continuing to work on. Dont say "I'm a perfectionist" or "I work too much". Those are not real weaknesses and you know it! So does the interviewer. They want to ensure that you know yourself well enough to realize that you're not perfect, and that you actively work towards improving yourself. For example, it could be that you in the past had a hard time holding difficult conversations at work, but you have taken courses and read books to get better - and recently you had a difficult conversation that went really well! Take a real issue, show how you've overcome it, and end with a success story.
2. Research the company and make sure you know everything (almost) about them. If they have stores, visit them! If they are mostly online, scour their website, understand the user experience, look at their advertising (especially important for marketing roles for obvious reasons), try to understand their industry. Do a Google search and see if there are any recent news, acquisitions, campaigns, product launches, etc. Make sure you can pronounce their name properly - might seem kind of silly, but working for a German company with a German name you’d be surprised of the things I hear. Interviewers are usually very proud of their company and it shows dedication and commitment if you know a lot about them.
3. Keep it short and sweet. Dont drag out your answers too long, you’ll lose the interviewer after a couple of minutes. Stick to the most important facts and try not to get too caught up in irrelevant details. If you have a longer resume and many years of experience, focus mostly on the last couple positions. No one cares about the details of what you did back in 1992, and you're wasting precious time where you could instead be telling them how awesome you are!
4. Include results and data points as much as possible, e.g. ”I ran local marketing for 37 locations and successfully increased sales by 18%”, and ”I managed 7 big projects, each with budgets exceeding $2 million. I was able to drive a 15% ROI”, etc.
5. Highlight your key strengths throughout the interview, not just when being asked. When talking about a successful project, make sure to mention things like ”thanks to my knack for negotiating, I was able to further reduce cost by 30%”. This will make sure the interviewer remembers it.
6. Have lots of clear examples of how your experience makes you the perfect candidate for the role and how you have worked on similar projects/challenges in the past. Make sure to mention them in your introduction and sprinkle them in in other questions. Also note that this doesnt have to be exactly the same experience but should relate to it - if you just got out of school, its fine to use an example where you used the same skillset, mindset or methodology as you would in this role. E.g. if the role is for a project manager, you can highlights projects you did in school or in sports that demonstrate those same skills (meeting aggressive deadlines, coordinating teams, or keeping within a certain budget).
7. Ask the interviewer to explain and/or repeat the question if you dont understand it. Thats normal and much better than providing an answer that is off point.
8. Have a list of questions for the interviewer. Ask about the culture, a typical day in this role, major challenges, what skills are most valuable for this role, what the interviewer likes most about working there, etc. For bonus points, ask them something about a recent change their company went through. For example, we just acquired another chain and I love when people ask me about that, as it shows they have Googled us and done their homework. If you dont have any questions you will seem disengaged so make sure to prepare a few (usually 3-5 is a good number). DONT ask about salary and benefits. Thats something you can ask the recruiter if there is one, but NOT the interviewer. It makes it sound like you’re in it for the money which isnt what they want to hear (even if it might be true).
9. Bring printed copies of your resume. This is common courtesy usually and shows that you are prepared and serious. Most of the time the interviewers have it but sometimes they dont, and then it gets really awkward.
10. Keep your resume to max 2 pages. If you landed the interview already, this might be irrelevant - but if you are in the midst of your job search, its good to keep in mind. Hiring managers are busy and believe it or not, but hiring is usually at the bottom of their priorities list. We're busy running companies, and you only have a few seconds to grab our attention with your resume. Make sure you have a clear summary of who you are and what your strengths are, along with a bulleted list of key skills, and a list of the most important achievements in each role (the more numbers the better).
Good luck, and have fun with it!