My $0.02 on Interviewing for Marketing Positions

Lately I’ve had quite a few students ask me for advice about interviewing for marketing positions.  The most common questions I get are something along the lines of “How can I best prepare for my interview at XYZ company?” and “How do I stand out among all of the other interviewees trying to get this job?”  Although there is a lot of great interviewing advice available, I will share my $0.02 on these questions.

To prepare:

  • Be able to clearly articulate why you want to work for XYZ company.  It sounds simple, but you need to explain how you are a good fit for their company, not just any company.  To address this issue, devote time towards studying the company’s website, people, social media, and culture.  Many companies are seeking an “overall fit” between you and their employees and culture.
  • In addition to explaining why you want to work for XYZ company, explain why you want to work in the position advertised.  Again, it sounds like a simple idea but to really stand out, learn what the position involves BEFORE you go on the interview.  Research the position as much as possible so you can cogently discuss what skills and abilities you bring to the table.
  • Know everything on your resume.  If there is something on your resume, expect to be asked a question about it.  Study your resume and think of something you can elaborate on for every item listed.
  • Practice interviewing.  I highly recommend 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions to help you ace job interviews.

To differentiate:

  • Differentiation involves analyzing your competitors.  So, think about the types of people who might be interviewing for the position.  Then, think of something about you that is different from all of your competitors.  Ensure that you discuss your point of differentiation some time during the interview.  It doesn’t have to be a huge point of differentiation, but it should be unique.  As an example, you could discuss how you studied for and passed a certification exam or performed in the top of your class on a project or assignment.  Perhaps you can share an interesting story about how you selected your major or a personal experience that influenced one of your core values.  The possibilities are endless.  If you are stuck on finding points of differentiation about yourself, I suggest you read ME 2.0 by Dan Schwabel to learn more about personal branding strategies.
  • Learn to dress professionally for success, but avoid the “standard suit uniform” look.  Be a little bold by wearing a tasteful but memorable accessory such as a tie or scarf to make you more memorable.  Even if the work environment is casual-dress, you should package yourself as a serious professional for the interview.
  • Write a hand-written thank you note to each person who interviewed you.  Often when I give this advice to my students, their response is “Really?”.  Yes, really.  Invest in a set of high quality, thank you notes and some stamps.  People do appreciate when you go to that extra effort.
  • Be yourself.  We’re all unique in our own way.  Trust that your uniqueness can shine through if you are comfortable and relaxed.   Interviews can be stressful, but if you don’t feel like yourself during the interview, you may not enjoy working at that company.

If you cannot market yourself well, the company will not believe you will be able to market their products/services.  For more resources, check out my interviewing tag on Delicious and my Marketing Career Info Daily with new content every day.  Also check out How to Score a Date with Your Potential Employer.

Please share your $0.02 on interviewing for marketing positions in the comments area below.

5 Comments on "My $0.02 on Interviewing for Marketing Positions"


  1. Dr. Flaherty – that’s what I still know you as 😉 I hope you remember me…it’s a bit of a blast from the past.

    I am an adjunct professor at UMD College Park teaching a class specifically on what you outlined above. I’d like to say that you’ve got some great content up there! I hope your students find success with your advice!

    Reply

  2. Of course I remember you Tricia. Weren’t you one of the Dirty Divas in my IMC course? 😉 I’m glad to hear that you are teaching at MD!

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  3. This is such an ironic post to read on your blog, since I just came across your blog only today. I had just posted a job posting and kind of addressed this issue, by asking for people to submit a video, where they pitch me why they would make a good candidate.

    Too many students do not know how to present themselves, it would be good for them to practice not only in front of the mirror, but on video. That way they can solicit feedback from others, practice and tweak. They come across as “i need a job” instead of figuring out why they could benefit me as an employer, and why I should stop what I am doing and pay attention to them. This is the ESSENCE of marketing and sales, if you can’t wow me enough to distract me away from my work and life to want to invite you in for a one-on-one, you may just not get a call.

    And, to be frank with you Theresa, like any “consumer” out there, employers want substance instead of flash. The way someone’s resume looks, thank you cards (while nice if done right) and accessories to their clothing is not the issue at hand. Any potential employee should approach their employer KNOWING how they can return multiples of income vs. their requested salary. That is the key to selling B2B, knowing the ROI. And your students are selling themselves to a business, right?

    Reply

    1. I completely agree that the substance outweighs the flash in every situation. I am confident that most of my students are well-qualified in the substance area based on their experience in my class. In fact, I would argue that my students are well above average in the Internet Marketing arena compared to most other institutions of higher education. My advice was directed at students who are shy about selling their skills and differentiating themselves from their peers.

      I checked out your job opportunity at http://harrisonburg.ebayclassifieds.com/marketing-pr/harrisonburg/marketing-student-or-intern/?ad=12248215 and believe that many of my MKTG 470 students would be qualified. Listed below is a list of skills that students should possess after taking my course. If any of my JMU students apply, I hope you will give them consideration.

      # Studied trends, technology, strategy, and analytics associated with Strategic Internet Marketing.
      # Proficient in basic HTML coding, WordPress, Google Analytics, Google AdWords (PPC), Google Webmaster Tools, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
      # Gained experience working with plug-ins, widgets, CAPTCHAs, favicons, and XML Sitemaps, Google Insights for Search, WordTracker, etc.
      # Developed and optimized a WordPress website and blog under the personal domain of http://mydomain.com.
      # Worked with a team to create an e-mail marketing newsletter using Emma.com.
      # Calculated various metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of Internet Marketing strategies

      Thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog Timothy.

      Reply

  4. Thanks a lot. I tried to reply to your email, but everytime it bounces back, so here is my reply below:

    Hi! thanks. If you wanted to get together for lunch sometime just to chat, I would love to meet with you. KC talked alot about you and your class, and he had a good knowledge base when he came in to meet us. We get so many SMAD students applying for internships, and KC was the first from the Business/Marketing side, he was quite energetic and soaked up knowledge like a sponge. He got an interesting offer from his friend’s dad, to be the marketing director in Fredricksburg, so he thought that would be a good first-opportunity. We continue to talk weekly, and we are helping him out in continual learning and identifying the media best suited for his new company.

    Anyway, we are a web development firm, but taking a much different slant in the past year, establishing ourselves with our clients as the kind of firm that will come in and help in all areas of marketing, including strategy. So we have a number of clients that pay us on a monthly retainer to work continuously with their needs, and we would like to be 90% retainer-based in general.

    KC thought that you would also be interested in having outside businesses come in and speak to your classes. That would be interesting for sure.

    Oh, and after reading your response on your blog, would you send the job posting around to your students? That would be great. They could be exactly what I am looking for.

    Reply

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