It works the same for all of us! Whether it’s a fresher at his campus interviews or a slightly experienced lad trying to make that big switch or a C-suite executive meeting the board, interviews world over have the same testing grounds and as much one prepares for it, he is never prepared enough.
World over, most of us carry our confidence in a freshly dry cleaned suit,keep sufficient copies of our resume (taken from that corner office printer) and call in sick all of a sudden; first timers also add a big black leather folder of their achievements that could range from sports to singing.
I may not the best authority on giving interview tips, but with a little bit of experience and some grey hair now (premature greying folks), I can say ‘interviews can be a tremendous learning experience, whichever side you are.
For aspirants wanting to get into the ‘Big Mad World of Marketing’, I have left you with Q&A’s that may not be the ‘Gospel of Truth’ but may just come in handy before that much awaited interview of yours.
Let’s just say you are sitting opposite the interviewer, most likely a 35+ something Vice President – Brand Development or Chief Marketing Officer or Group Head – Sales & Marketing, be sure that he is going to grill you (both in the interview and later on the job).
As the interview progresses and after you have given him enough of your personal jazz and broken the ice, the conversation will move towards testing your aptitude for the role.
There is a little tip I would like to share here, No interviewer likes a candidate with half-baked knowledge, so ensure you study a couple of things well.
- The Company – their products, brands, markets, latest updates, key people and financials (if a listed one)
- The Interviewer – most information about him would be available on LinkedIn (and if you don’t want your profile appearing on his feed, check your privacy settings and do the needful). As an interviewee, you should be updated about the person you’re meeting, his past work, educational creds and any major achievements he may have had.
- Yourself – the resume you shared with them is not just a piece of paper, they will most likely fish for questions from it, so ensure you give them solid fact based well-thought answers.
Let’s move to some role specific brand management questions and how to answer them (in no particular order).
5 Common Brand Management interview questions and answers
1. Talk about the importance of brand management? Why do you think is important?
These kind of questions will most likely be directed towards students at a campus interview. One needs to really internalize and believe that Branding is important and the reasons could be plenty. Personally speaking if you look out in the world today, you find brands everywhere, they are a more than just names, sign, symbol or term used to differentiate ones goods from another, and in essence a brand is a promise that impacts the human psychology.
We all like to be associated with brands, either to be assured of the quality of the product, to enjoy a certain experience or simply uplift our social status. In my opinion brands outlive products for e.g. Instant Noodles would not be the same if not for Maggi. If you realize Maggi has grown to become an emotion, else #Maggiban would not have trended on social media (in positive light I mean).
2. What are some of your favorite marketing campaigns?
I have been questioned on this some half a dozen times. The choice varies and can be extremely subjective, what may appeal to me will not necessary be on your list of favorites, but these kind of questions can be approached with a certain thought.
Break down your marketing campaigns across various elements.
- Campaign Objective
- Media Channels
- Service Experience
- Post Campaign performance
Let’s take an example of Lufthansa’s campaign – ‘More Indian than you think’
(link for TVC)
Understand that every brand rolls out a campaign for one of the following objectives
- New Product launch
- Brand Awareness
- Revive Market Share
- Entering a new market
My best guess is Lufthansa’s campaign objective was to ‘Revive the market share’ and attract the non-corporate Indians travelling to the West. With the rise of Middle Eastern Airline giants like Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad, European carriers have seen a decline in their market share for multiple reasons – better inflight experience, affordable fares, better stopovers. (#DubaiDutyFree, #QatarDuty free and the likes).
I am sure Lufthansa here would have done an exhaustive research to understand why they were losing out to competition and what differentiated others from them. So clearly the entire ‘Cold German’ experience was not what ‘Non Corporate Indians’ appreciated. If you observe closely, I am insisting on ‘Non Corporate Indians’ because this is the segment they were looking to revive.
Next is the choice of media vehicles – May it be mainstream TVC, Print, Outdoor or going big on Digital. Such kind of research always helps. Media selection is extremely important behind planning any big or small campaign, because no Marketer likes to waste dollars on ‘Attracting the Wrong Customer’
Third is the agency – While this kind of info may not be readily available, a little bit of smart google search helps. This campaign for Lufthansa was conceptualized by McCann and the media agency was Mindshare.
Service experience – Is there a way you have noticed a change in their service experience or product offering? While it may be relatively easier for product brands, service brands need to truly internalize the campaign thought and demonstrate this across various customer touch points. Sometimes it is best to experience it for yourself (I don’t recommend purchasing the next ticket on Lufthansa now!)
Lastly, what was the post campaign performance? Any and every marketing campaign ultimately needs to result into a healthier top line else most people like me will be found wanting for jobs. Look out for what was the post campaign performance, some brands put up such results in their press releases and its available over the internet. Check this link for Lufthansa’s performance.
3. How do you stay updated on the latest tools and trends?
Speaking for myself, I am regular to browse on Campaign India, Campaign Middle East, Mashable (since I take care of Digital Marketing), Hub Spot, Blogs on company websites and watch a lot of Youtube content.
I would also urge you to subscribe to HBR articles to understand of some work happening globally. For the rest, the internet is your universe!
4. How would you spend your first week at work in your new role as a Marketing Manager?
For the ‘Experienced Ones’ – I don’t think you need an answer to this, but for somebody looking to start off their careers in marketing, this question can be thrown in during that ‘coveted interview’. In the first week of joining any company, there is practically nothing you can do apart from getting your basics in order like employee id, IT setup, frequent visits to the cafeteria or exchanging unwanted pleasantries.
But you can definitely have an approach to this, step back and put a logical flow. I would say, in addition to my regular tasks, I would like love to add on to my understanding of customers, our products, competitors’ offering. If possible, accompany our sales reps on their field visits, speak to our retailers/ distributors and shadow them on customer calls. Ingrain this in your mind, a marketer has and must put in a lot of time in the market understanding his current customers, potential customers, competitors’ customers and lost customers. Even CMO’s of companies like HUL, P&G have their dose of field visits.So don’t hesitate to step out of that work station.
5. [Case study interview question] Let’s say we want to enter Market X, how would you describe a ‘Go-to-Market Strategy’ for that?
Should this question be thrown at you, ‘Don’t panic or put pressure on yourself to remember Kotler. The one asking you only wants to understand your thought process, the way you approach the question.GTM strategy cannot be defined over interview conversations, it is a detailed session that runs over months. Keep it simple, try and apply this framework and expand a little on each of it.
- Who? (Customers)
- What? (Offerings)
- How? (Channels)
6. How would you see our competition?
With more than just the naked eye!
What I mean by this is, earnestly take the effort to study your target brands’ competition– be updated about their products (try them if you can), learn about the markets they operate in, their service experience, pricing strategies and anything that has brought them in the news. (The Good, Bad and definitely ‘The Ugly’- learning from their failure can be your biggest success).
Keep an eye for both your direct and lateral competition. Simply put the ones who can eat into your ‘Share of Wallet’ and the ones who can into your ‘Share of mind’ e.g. Oyo Rooms and an Airbnb may not necessarily be competing directly, but they do try and reach out to the same segment – ‘Budget Traveler’.
7. As a marketing manager how will you manage customers giving negative social media reviews about your product?
Hashtags can make life miserable for marketing & customer care teams. First step is to bring the conversation offline – email him, call him, meet him if need be, but never build a conversation on your social media page, else that one tweet can become a ‘full-fledged troll’.
For ones in marketing roles, ensure you engage with Social media listening experts and regularly monitor your channels.
8. What are the biggest challenges you foresee in this role?
This comes with some level of experience, you can’t put challenges without knowing anything.
A. Ability to deliver within budgets, most times under allocated budgets.
B. Retain, if not grow the market share.
C. Turnaround ‘an unclear brief’ into an ‘attractive campaign’ under pressed timelines.
D. Develop the skills to manage your agencies, vendors and suppliers.
E. Ensure a positive ROI, so that your finance department smiles at you.
9. How would you rate your understanding of Digital Marketing? Do you think there is merit for us to relook at media planning and move some budgets to Digital?
Cliché but a relevant question. Not knowing Digital Marketing is almost next to being extinct as a marketer. So read all you can about Digital marketing, at least it’s important to have a logical approach to such questions even if you don’t know everything.
Media planning is critical and one needs to include Digital in their way of things. You’ll be surprised to know the dollars it saves and returns it can give.
10. What metrics are important to you as a brand manager?
Keep it to basics, try and cover
Performance Metrics – Lead Generation, wallet share, revenue
Customer metrics – Cust. Satisfaction, Purchase intent, advocacy intent
Brand health metrics – awareness & usage, positioning, sentiment analysis
10 More Brand Management interview questions for freshers and experienced folks
Here are 10 popular brand management interview questions for practise.
- How do you know when a branding strategy isn’t working?
- Case based – Do you think Brand X should enter a different customer segment?
- Describe a time where you made a major mistake and had to think on your feet to come up with a solution.
- Give us an example of how you have managed a marketing campaign on time and under budgets?
- Any example of a campaign that did not work as per your plan? What was your plan B?
- Do you have any hobbies or interests that have added value to you as a Marketer?
- Let’s say our CEO wants to evaluate our blog, you think you could help him?
- Assuming we hire you, how would you jump in as a project manager for an upcoming product launch? Can you walk us through that process?
- Are you open to traveling on work irrespective of weekdays/ weekends?
- Tell me about your personal brand?
I can write pages, but in the interest of time I have expanded on a few important ones. Feel free to add more and spread knowledge for aspiring candidates out there. On a side note, keep calm and good luck for that interview!