Thursday, August 14, 2008

How to pass the marketing interview: Part two

The Bright Ideas Group will be recruiting new Associates and one Executive (Research & Analysis) for the Fall. This is always a fun time for me because I get the pleasure of meeting a new crop of students who are still wide-eyed and bushy-tailed and have not become disillusioned with school, marketing, or me!

We begin advertising the open positions in the student emails next week, so in advance of the applications we'll receive I thought it's probably a good thing to describe some of my own tips for passing a marketing interview. I've already written about the things to say and the things to not say during a marketing interview, so let's discuss how one can prepare for the interview.

(Note, I assume everyone already knows to shower, shave, get professionally dressed, turn off cellphones, arrive on time, bring copies of their latest resume, and thoroughly pre-read their I'm not going to cover those obvious tips, let's leave that to the Schulich Career Development Centre)

1. Stay informed with world events. You will be asked about a current news story or event that you're following and what it is about that event that interests you personally. Frankly, good business people stay up to date anyway with the latest goings-on in the world as part of their normal activities.

2. Stay informed about marketing campaigns. You will definitely be asked about marketing trends and the evolution of modern consumers. Platitudinous or uninformed answers that rely too much on self-oriented analysis about how you yourself behave as a consumer are a nich-nich. For example, don't say that you think television ads are not impactful anymore because you've become a savvy critic of marketing and are able to parse relevant from irrelevant ad pitches. It might be helpful to do some pre-research before making pronouncements like that.

3. Stay informed about Canadian ad camapigns. Start actively thinking about the ads you see everywhere around you: in Google SERPs, in magazines, on your phone, at events, and in the stores. Collect a bunch of campaigns in your portfolio of mental examples to pull from at any point during the interview, at your leisure of course!

4. Buy a copy of Marketing Mag or subscribe to a few free enewsletters. Good ones are Creativity Online, Sherpa, eMarketer, and Ad Age. These are great to stay up-to-date with developments in the industry. It's not impressive though to say that you've

5. Assemble a mental list of critical points that you want to cover. Never expect that the interviewer will touch on every aspect of your experience, every facet of your skills, and every accomplishment in your life. Additionally, by knowing how to turn the interview into a professional conversation rather than a tense question-and-answer session, you're better able to cover those critical points if they were not already brought up.

Overall, I think it's essential that you clearly explain what value you bring to the position you're applying for and the organization in general. It's not impressive to run on about what you hope to get from the prospective position without being explicit about what the organization will get from you. If you can't even sell yourself, then what good are you for a career in marketing???

And also, loosen up, because seriously, this isn't finance.

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