By Christina Nguyen
Human beings love stories. They’re easy to remember, often move the listeners emotionally, and help provide context to facts or known outcomes. Interviewers, like all people, love hearing stories too. So, before heading out to any marketing job interview, it’s good to prepare certain stories around some common questions.
Remember, the stories you recount don’t all have to draw from work experience, they can also come from your school or volunteering days. The point is to demonstrate the capabilities the interviewers want to see in the position, whether it’s resourcefulness, stamina, or your ability to learn and grow.
Here are some topics you might want to prepare for in advance:
Even the best of us are human and will make mistakes from time to time. What really sets us apart from each other is how we respond to them. Do we take responsibility for the mistake and quickly try to fix the situation? Or, did we ignore it and hope someone didn’t notice? Given how much damage some mistakes can make, knowing an employee can calmly handle them gives employers some peace of mind.
At Find My Marketer, we recommend choosing examples where you made an honest mistake and you have a story where you made attempts to fix something, or made good on it. (It’s up to you, but generally we wouldn’t recommend choosing a completely catastrophic error unless there’s a good ending out of it.) And of course, don’t forget to talk about what you learned from these mistakes and what changes you made to prevent such things from happening in the future. Take accountability for anything that was your fault but spin it in a positive manner, portraying these as learning moments rather than hits to your self-esteem.
Everyone has dealt with challenging coworkers, peers, or bosses. The reason many prospective employers ask this question is that they may know certain individuals in the division can be a challenge to work with. How people deal with them and help to solve situations while remaining cool is a key to an overall happy workplace.
We recommend thinking of a situation with a coworker or boss that made you uncomfortable. Think about how you reacted to the situation. Given hindsight, how would you improve your reaction to it? (Again, we recommend not choosing an extreme example where you were completely in the wrong and/or the situation ended really badly, unless there’s a good lesson that came out of it for you.)
What employers are looking for is primarily what you learned from the experience, whether it was a different way to view an issue, understanding opposing opinions, or improving your ability to handle conflict without necessarily completely giving in on your point of view.
Similar to the above, it’s not uncommon to have a question about dealing with tough clients or customers. Handling a difficult client or customer the wrong way could cause serious business losses, depending on who the other party is and how vengeful they are. What can make these situations even more difficult than coworker drama is that you generally have reduced in-person access to them, leaving you dependent on communicating in a less-than-ideal medium such as email or text messaging.
Some marketers work in customer-facing roles, such as social media accounts or may have to answer email questions from customers on particular products/services or offers.
In the ideal scenario, we recommend thinking about a situation where you perhaps helped defuse an angry or unhappy customer. How did you approach it? What was your response? In many situations, a customer may be offensive or even out of control. How did you help talk that person down? In this case, think about how you framed your response and what the elements were of your successful reply.
One of the areas that interviewers consider is creativity. But it’s not only about coming up with new ideas, it’s also knowing how to take those ideas to execution that matters. What we are thinking about here are bigger ideas: Are there things you have done in the past that you were able to pitch and execute something new or radically different from what the company had been doing?
In this case, your story should answer questions such as: What were the obstacles you had to overcome? What did you learn about yourself or the processes along the way? What were the end results (audience reaction)?
Obviously, it’s a good idea to choose stories here where there were good results, or a good lesson to be learned. If you don’t have something that’s a big idea, it’s OK to think about day-to-day implementations. Maybe it was a new way to do an engaging Instagram blog post. Or a different approach to email marketing that proved successful. What you want to get across is your ability to look at data or evidence, suggest a new approach, and make a positive impact.
It’s difficult for people to talk about themselves, but having a good personal story about work and what you were able to achieve can often be a way for interviewers to learn more about who you are. Be careful here in that it’s easy to get caught up in praising yourself for a particular accomplishment and coming off more self-centered than you’d like. (Interviewers also use this question as a way to gauge whether or not someone will be a team player as well.)
A few tips as you craft your story here: 1. Be sure to include those who may have helped you achieve your goals along the way; 2. It’s Ok to be self-deprecating here but make sure to balance any modesty with a confidence in yourself and what you were able to achieve, and; 3. Think about the reasons behind why you were able to achieve what you have. Perhaps some of it was luck? Perhaps some of it was putting yourself in the right position. What matters here is that you’ve thought about – and can communicate – the approach that has worked for you.
If it helps, write the stories down, and practice delivering them a few times before you head off to the interview. The more prepared you are going in, the less nerve-wracking it will be. Good luck!
At Find My Marketer, we're committed to helping you find the right opportunity – and help you land your dream role! Create an account and get access to apply to thousands of jobs today.