Interview Insights | Key Question: What is your brand? [Template & Sample]

Interview Question: What is your brand?

Last week was surprising.

I had a debriefing session with a client who has his eyes on an opportunity within General Electric.

The way a session usually goes is as follows:

I ask my client all the questions they were asked during their interviews.

I want to know for two reasons: a) I want to record and reuse real interview questions to prepare future clients vying for jobs within precisely the same organizations, and b) I want to uncover some of the reservations that a prospective employer has about hiring my client so that they can be addressed within thank you notes and guide our follow-up strategy.

The reason I was surprised by this particular session is because “what is your brand?” is usually asked during a marketing interview and here is GE asking this question to an operations professional?

So how can you respond elegantly to this industry-agnostic query?

Here are five things to consider:

  1. Ignore any big and typical brands. Your brand should never be Google, Apple or Nike. Those are some of the most overused comparisons.
  2. Do not say that your brand is very similar to that of your respective employers’ — that’s brown-nosing and useless.
  3. Think about a brand that operates within a community that you can relate to.
  4. Consider describing brand attributes that align nicely with what the job description is calling for.
  5. Ask your former managers and colleagues for their feedback because this is a question that may require a third-party perspective. Side note: when my client responded to this question, the interviewer commented that his boss (whom he had called earlier that day) described him very similarly.

Here is an example to inspire you:

I’m a great deal like Trader Joe’s. Here’s a little background so that you understand what I mean by this. This supermarket is for folks who are adventurous when it comes to food. They relish in that element of discovery. We’re natural explorers. We’re samplers and curious. Whenever I attack a complex challenge, I start by asking questions and testing hypotheses. I’ve found that the more questions I ask…the faster I uncover the core issues.

Meanwhile, Trader Joe’s, captures and adjusts its assortment based on consumer purchasing behavior. The store continuously tries to restock the top sellers and replace the worst sellers to maximize its shelf space. On my end, I enjoy managing an assignment based on its ongoing results which is why it’s critical to establish numerical goals early on to follow trends and continuously make improvements rather than waiting until reaching a final milestone.

Finally, Trader Joe’s offers customers a fun shopping experience. You’ll notice that they offer mini shopping carts for “customers in training,” its employees ring a bell every so often, and wear Hawaiian shirts. As a team leader, it’s critical to create a fun working environment. When I worked for Ernst & Young, I encouraged my team to play just as hard as we worked. For example, on Thursday we’d go to lunch to a new restaurant each week, I encouraged everyone to dress casually on Fridays, and made sure that anyone who worked extended hours could go home earlier than usual.

In sum, you can say that I’m a curious, goal-driven, and fun person who wants to bring these qualities to your team.

The insight is that you reflect on yourself first and then find a suitable brand that nicely aligns with your core competencies.

Melissa Llarena’s craft is coaching top executives on how to strategically dissect and deliver the perfect job interview. Get instant access to a 20-page interview preparation kit that will give you an edge. Join the thousands who’ve read her career insights in Forbes and The Huffington Post. Follow her at @CareerOutcomes.

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