A typical marketing job interview starts with you waiting in the lobby longer than you wanted. Then the big introduction, the handshake, that awkward small-talk on the way to the tiny little room where all you can think to talk about is the weather or you finding a great parking spot. Then you sit down, and out comes that dreaded question, “So, tell me about yourself”. Oh god well all hate that question. “Ummmm, let me see, I like basketball, walks in the park and I think I’m rather funny, or at least my wife does”. Wow, bad start. Then you get about 8-10 questions that ask “tell me a time when…”. And finally, they end the interview with, “Anything else to add?” Then there is that awkward walk back to the reception desk, where you talk about your plans for the weekend. Then you drive home, and realize that you forgot to mention your 3 biggest career accomplishments.
The problem is you didn’t know how to answer “so, tell me about yourself” because you never know a great way. Well I will show you how. Then you waited defensively on the 8-10 “Tell me a time when….” type behavioral questions everyone is using. You sat there like a game show contestant hoping that examples will miraculously pop into your head at the last minute. Well, I am going to show you how to organize the 10 best things you ever did so that never happens again. And, you were so relieved at the end of the interview, that when they said “Anything to add?” you mistakenly let out a big sigh and said: “No, I think we are good!” That’s no way to end it. This is like the end of the TV ad, where you forget your tagline. Instead, I am going to force you to go for the close with your 7 second pitch again!
Having interviewed about 1,000 marketers over my 20 year career, I can tell you that many of the best marketers in the world kinda suck in job interviews. They forget that when they are looking for their next role….that THEY are now the brand they must be able to market. The same rules apply.
Marketing 101 would suggest that you have to map out your strengths to what they are looking for. Your winning zone is to find that clear difference that matters to employers. Avoid the losing zone where your peers are better than you and the dumb zone where no one cares. Where it is a tie, the risky zone, you can win that through your experience or bringing your values into the mix. But you need to fin your winning zone.
So tell me about yourself: Deliver your 7-second pitch
“As a brand leader, I find growth where others couldn’t, and I create a motivated brand team that delivers great work to drive results”.
Think of this like your 7 second personal brand pitch, where you give a summation of your personal brand’s big idea. Here is a simple tool I have created to help you answer:
- What is the shortest way that you define yourself.
- What is the primary benefit you will provide your next employer?
- What is the secondary benefit you will provide.
- Then wrap it up with an expected result.
Look at your resume and then start off by brainstorm as many options for each of the 4 areas as you can. This is a great way to assess yourself based on what you have done over the last few years. Make sure your definitions are more forward looking with an aspiration for what you want to be, not what you have been.
Once you get that done, you can then begin to piece it all together and see what your own 7-second pitch might start to look like. Keep tightening that pitch until it flows. In my 20 years of CPG marketing, I became the turnaround guy, so “I could find growth where others couldn’t” became my little hook. What is yours?
Expand your 7 second pitch up to a 30-minute pitch
Once you feel comfortable with your 7 second pitch, take each of those 4 statement areas and try to come up with 2-3 examples and stories from your past that can prove and demonstrate. These examples help define your 30-minute pitch:
Now you have 10 stories you can use to bring into your interview to answer any of the “so tell me a time when…” questions. If these are your best 10, then you should refer to these to help demonstrate your big idea. This is also a great page that you can be looking at when you are sitting in the reception area, just prior to your interview.
So here’s how the interview should go:
- “So tell me about yourself”: Deliver your 7-second pitch.
- The 8-10 interview questions: Deliver any of the 10 examples from your 30-minute pitch.
- “Anything to add?”: Repeat your 7 second pitch as your closing line.
This way, you are now controlling up front how you want to define yourself. All 8-10 examples will help add to that definition. And as you get to the end, you wan to use a 7-second close to re-affirm your big idea.
Later on, as the various interviewers re-group to discuss each person, you hope your big idea sticks in their head. “I really like Bob, because he could turn this brand around. He has done it before. He gets results”.
You can use this 7-second pitch that top of your resume, your descriptor for your LinkedIn profile, your handshake introduction at networking meetings, or within the body of any emails that you send looking for jobs. The more you use it, the more you begin to make this your reputation.
One last tip. If you are in Marketing and can’t think of a safe “what’s your weakness”, I can tell you mine. “I’m not very good at negotiations.” The reason it is safe, is that most marketing jobs don’t really require any negotiations. If you’re reading this and you’re not a Marketer…then I guess your safe answer might be: “I’m not really good at marketing”.
Good luck to you. I hope you get what you are looking for.
At Beloved Brands, we can’t really help you get a job. But once you do land that dream job in Marketing, we can certainly help you succeed. What we do best, is we make Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution.
We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management.
To contact us, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands. And please feel free to add me on LinkedIn.