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How To Prepare For (and Ace) A Marketing Interview

From years of hiring marketers, here’s how to nail an interview.



No preamble this time, let’s just dive into the techniques you can use to come across confidently in an interview for a marketing role.

Don’t talk too much about yourself.

Often, the first question you will be asked is “Tell us about yourself”.

It’s easy to ramble on about your personal life, situation and career history.

This wastes time you can spend later on talking about your skills and experience, so you don’t want to linger here.

Keep your answer focused on your current situation and the relevant career history that led to you sitting in that interview.

Here’s an example:

“I’m currently looking for a role in marketing which allows me to develop skills in [xyz], as I ultimately want to become a [aspirational job title].

I’ve worked in marketing for over [x] years in roles such as [role 1, role 2] and it’s given me a real passion for [job aspect].

I care a lot about [whatever this job does] and I’m believe I can strongly contribute to your company alongside honing my skills in [whatever skills you want to develop].”

You’ll notice I don’t mention where I was born and which breed of dog I have.

The interviewer doesn’t care about that.

This question isn’t about learning all about you and your personality. They just want to know what resulted in you sitting in front of them, applying for that specific job.

Silence is golden.

You know what police interrogators have in common with job interviewers? 👮

They use silence as a weapon.

In an interview, you’re generally a bit nervous.

When there’s a gap in the conversation, you’ll want to fill it. Usually with ramble.

Use silence to your advantage. It acts as a mental buffer between thoughts and lets you catch your breath.

If an interviewer pauses after you’ve answered a question, don’t feel like you need to elaborate.

If in doubt, ask them:

Was that what you were looking for, or do you want more detail on anything I’ve said?

That leads nicely into…

Turn it into a conversation.

You know you don’t need to wait until the end to ask questions?

In fact, there a few benefits to doing it during the interview:

  1. It puts everyone at ease. If questions come from both sides, it becomes a conversation, not an interrogation.
  2. It shows you have an interest and you’re engaging with the question topic.
  3. It allows you to check if your own answers were what they wanted to hear. If not, it allows you to elaborate.
  4. It gives you a breather. If they’re talking, you get to rest for a moment. Sweet, sweet relief.

Examples:

“…that’s my interpretation of the job role. Is that a fair representation of the role? What do the day to day tasks look like?”

“…and those are the tools I’m experienced in. Do you use any tools that I haven’t mentioned?”

“…and that’s why I think I’m well suited to the role. Were they any skills you were hoping for that I haven’t demonstrated?”

Breathe. Embrace thinking space. Woosah.

You don’t need to dive straight into an answer.

It’s worth taking a few beats after hearing a question to check if you fully understood it.

Then take a few moments to gather your thoughts.

They aren’t going to be annoyed by you looking into space for a few seconds, then coming out with a nicely articulated and focused question.

However, they might have reservations if you barrel into a question at 1000mph, and come out with a rambling, unfocused answer.

You owe yourself a few seconds to think.

Ditch STAR.⭐⛔

You might already know this method. If not, STAR is:

It’s a nice method to ensure your answers are concise and meaningful.

You don’t need to apply this to every answer. Try to use it on answers which demonstrate a particular skill.

E.g. “Back when I worked for [company], I came up against a client who really wanted to get leads from social media (situation).

I was the strategist in charge, so it was my job to direct the campaign strategy (task). It didn’t make sense for their brand and I felt it would be better to do a brand awareness campaign.

I showed the client some examples of brand awareness campaigns and some metrics to support my strategy (action).

As a result, the client agreed and the reach campaign brought over 50% more users onto the site during the campaign duration. (result)”

HOLD ON THOUGH – didn’t I just say we should ditch the STAR method?

If it works for you, fine. It’s a decent method.

However, I know a lot of people struggle to “STAR” something in the heat of the moment.

So, for those who need to do this on the fly with minimal brain power, try this instead:

  1. Context
  2. Outcome

That’s a bit easier to remember and actually makes logical sense.

First, give them the context, then tell them what the outcome was.

It’s the same result as STAR, but you’re not trying to line up your specific sentences against 4 different criteria.

But, remember…

You don’t need an example for everything.

It’s tempting to pick through our career history to find examples to match all the criteria in a job spec.

It’s worth having a few to hand (especially for “essential” criteria), but don’t sweat too much about it.

Sometimes, it’s better to generalise a bit and explain your thinking and methods, rather than a specific example.

For example (HA!):

Interviewer: Can you give me a time you had to negotiate with a senior stakeholder?

You: I don’t have a specific example, but my method for this would be to attempt to understand the point of view and desired outcome of the senior stakeholder. I would state my objective, so we’re on the same page, then propose my solution, ideally with mutual benefit. I try to make sure I’m listening to their solution and motivations as well, as most staff tend to want to work towards similar overall goals. If it’s the case that I am overruled, I can make peace with that knowing that I presented my argument.

The job spec is your bible.

Most of the skill-based questions will revolve around the job spec.

Have a look at the “essential” and “desirable” criteria and decide how much you match them.

For stuff you know inside out: Don’t bother rehearsing anything.

For things that you know a bit, but aren’t really sure: Give it a quick Google or ChatGPT to summarise it and see if your understanding is correct. Be upfront that you don’t really have much experience in it, but focus on transferrable skills and willingness to learn.

For stuff you’ve never heard of: Give it a quick Google/GPT to get a bare bones understanding. Admit that you don’t have any experience or exposure to it, but you know roughly what it is and why it’s important. Again, express willingness to learn.

The “what do you know about the role” question from earlier is basically a test to see if you’ve read the job spec and are know what you’re applying for. They don’t expect you to know the intricacies of the actual job.

Body language.

From a bunch of studies in the ’60s, Dr. Mehrabian (big shot psychologist from the US) concluded that 93% of communication is “nonverbal” in nature.

That’s nuts, right? 🥜

Also, it’s from the ’60s, so it might also be bullshit. 💩

Still, it gives weight to body language in interviews having a big role.

Some pointers:

Christ, there’s a picture for everything on the internet.

Have questions ready.

If you’ve been following my advice, you will be asking questions throughout.

However, save a few juicy ones for the end.

Now it’s your turn to be the interviewer.

Now who’s getting interviewed, huh?

A good selection of questions shows you actually care about the job. In fact, they can actually enhance your attractiveness as an employee, as you can bring up additional things you didn’t mention in the interview.

For example:

“I’m aware [such and such] happened in the news recently. Is this likely to affect the business, and if so, do you have a plan?” – I used this one recently regarding the impact of AI in marketing.

“How many clients are allocated to each staff member on average?”

“What is the annual client retention percentage?”

“You mentioned earlier that you use [software]. Would you be open to changing that if I had a reasonable business case?”

Use this time to enhance your understanding of the business and probe into the areas that they don’t willingly reveal in the job spec.

Sometimes, your questions can unveil things that actually mean you don’t want to take the job!

You could ask about stuff like the team dynamics, growth opportunities, expected role performance (short and long term), and company culture.

Also ask for feedback.

Here’s a KILLER QUESTION. I’m gonna make it big for ya.

Based on the interview, is there anything you feel I’ve missed or any skills you were hoping for that I haven’t demonstrated?

This question is the bees knees 🐝. Not only does it show proactivity, it also gives you a chance to fill any gaps.

Ask them how long you’re likely going to have to wait until they come back with an answer and mention that you would appreciate interview feedback either way.

Thank them for their time and consideration and hand out some nice firm handshakes.

If you’re feeling ballsy, now is a good time to ask if you could have a quick tour. Use it to gauge the vibes.

After the dust has settled.

If you had a morning interview, shoot out an email in the afternoon. For afternoon interviews, wait until the morning.

It should say something like:

Hi [interviewer name],

Thanks again for your time and consideration. It was lovely meeting you and learning more about the role and company.

From our conversation, I feel I would be a great fit for [company] and I think I have a lot of value to bring to the table.

If you have any further questions, please give me a call or shoot me an email.

Very much looking forward to hearing from you.

I wouldn’t elaborate much more than that, unless there was something specific in the interview that you felt you couldn’t address at the time. For example, maybe you want to send them a piece of work that evidences something you said.

Now put it out of your head.

There’s no point dwelling on it now it’s done.

Sit back, relax, maybe send out some more CVs.

Shameless plug, but I’m currently offering some kickass CV tips in a cheatsheet for only £1 (usually £57).

The advice in there increased my salary by 344% over 6 years and contributed to my rise from a marketing exec to a Head of Marketing in just 3 years.

In fact, with my current CV, I’ve had a 90% application to interview rate.

If that’s too spendy for ya, you can get a lot of my tips and advice by signing up to the Clarity Newsletter below.

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Written By

Founder of Latent Clarity and author of the Clarity newsletter.

I help new and solo marketers be the best they can with practical, actionable, (and sometimes funny) advice.


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