So you just graduated, or you’re switching careers.
Either way, you have little to no experience. And you’re interviewing for a company whose offering you know nothing about.
Don’t freak out.
Like I told my cousin before her phone interview for a marketing internship, “They just want to talk to you to figure out if you’re a doofus or a nutcase and if they like you and if you’re genuinely interested.”
Showing them that you’re likable and not a nutcase or a doofus is easy.
Just be on time, be polite, and be a human being. Don’t try to show off and don’t worry if you’re nervous — everyone is nervous.
The harder part is showing you’re interested.
To show interest you must ask questions. Questions about the company’s strategy and their challenges, not about benefits or pay or logistics (those do come later though).
Here are a few options:
Who Do You Sell To/Who’s Your Ideal Buyer?
The job description or your interviewer will probably tell you who their customers are. Push further.
If they’ve already sort of answered this question, ask them to talk about it more.
Marketers spend a lot of time thinking about and researching their prospects and customers. And even if the one you’re talking to doesn’t, they’ll at least have a theory. (Everyone has a theory.)
This question should get them talking, but if it doesn’t here’s a follow-up…
What Unique Challenges Are There When You’re Selling to [Insert Ideal Buyer]?
This is a good question because the sales process for any product or service is going to depend partly on the buyer.
For example, if the company sells to enterprise clients (companies with 100+ employees), those clients probably have more than one person evaluating the purchasing decision.
Because of this, when you sell to enterprise clients, you need to show the value to the IT guy, upper management, and the end user.
There could also be challenges based on the industry the client is in.
Some industries are more accepting of, for example, tech products while others aren’t. So tech marketers in old-school industries must adjust their strategies and messaging accordingly.
If this conversation thread is going well, ask them how they address those challenges. If not, try this next one:
What Are Your Most Successful Marketing Channels?
Very few (if any) companies will only market their products in one channel.
At a minimum, as far as digital marketing is concerned, most companies have a website, a social media presence, and an email list.
They may have salespeople that go to trade shows and make calls too.
Find out which channel is working best. Ask them why that one is working better than the others. This question shows your desire to learn things specific to the company — that’s a good thing.
What Kind of Tools Do You Use for Email Marketing/Online Content Management/Digital Analytics?
According to chiefmartec.com, there are 6,829 marketing technology solutions on the market as of 2018 (the researchers openly admit there are probably more). And chief marketing officers mainly buy marketing technology for email marketing, online content management, and digital analytics.
So chances are, the company you’re interviewing with has a tool or two. But — and I’m bringing you in on a big secret here — most marketers aren’t leveraging those tools to their full potential.
Show interest in their tools and find out if you’ll receive training on how to use them. Then find out if the vendors that provide those tools offer free training and check it out before your next interview.
Then you can speak knowledgeably about it, assuming you make it through this first interview (which of course you will). And your final question…
Who Are Your Biggest Competitors?
Everyone has competitors. And every good marketer studies and learns from their competition.
So ask them about their competition. If they’re not saying much, try one of these follow-up questions:
1. How is your company/offering different from the competition?
2. Is there anything the competition does well that you’re trying to emulate?
3. How competitive is the market you’re selling in?
Note: Keep your questions open-ended.
You don’t want to ask yes or no questions about strategy. That makes for a stilted, boring conversation.
If you’re not sure how to phrase a question, just say “Talk to me about …”
If they don’t understand your question, give examples, such as:
“Talk to me about your customers, are they mostly small businesses? Enterprise clients? Or a mix of both?”
Final Thought: The Goal of Your Interview
Your goal isn’t to show how smart you are. Your goal is to learn about the company, ask good questions, and show enthusiasm.
Because regardless of the exact position you’re interviewing for, if you’re an entry-level employee in marketing, it’s your job to learn, ask questions, and show enthusiasm.
Those are three things that add a ton of value, both for you and your prospective employer. And they’re also the only three things you can actually do well if you just started (no offense).
Did you find this post useful? Have some tips of your own for prospective marketers? Share the wealth and respond below!