5 Ways to Improve Your Marketing Case Interview Skills
Cases are the area where you can shine in a marketing interview. They give you the opportunity to showcase your marketing knowledge, creativity, and potential. But, if you are not prepared you will find yourself floundering during the interview. Use these 5 tips to get started on the path to success.
By JR BLASZEK
After a company tests you for “fit” within their culture, they want to make sure you are actually a competent marketer. In an interview, you will hear questions about product launches, competitive threats, and even a million unused rubber tires. The range of interview questions will seem daunting at times, but there are a few tricks that you can learn to make the marketing case questions a breeze.
1) Listen Carefully
While there are hundreds of different types of companies you could be interviewing for, the types of questions that you receive will generally be the same:
– Product Launch
– Competitive Threat
– Brand Extension
– Marketing Evaluation
– Advertising Evaluation
Any marketing case interview will consist of at least 1 (but probably more) of these types of questions. The first trick is to recognize which question you are receiving before the interviewer is done asking. This way you can begin to formulate your response while you’re listening.
There are some key words that will instantly cue what type of case your interviewer is talking about.
The word “Strategy” usually indicates that you will be talking about higher level marketing concepts where you will be evaluating the business as a whole and not necessarily the marketing tactics.
Example: Your manager asks you look into launching a new air freshener for men. What things would you consider and would you launch?
When a question starts with “how”, you know you are probably going to be talking about marketing tactics instead of higher level strategy. These types of questions focus on the marketing nuts and bolts and the specifics about strategic execution.
Example: Walmart has just launched a private label product that directly competes with yours and is 40% cheaper. How do you respond?
2) Know Your Frameworks
The great thing about marketing is that there is a framework for just about any type of problem. The tricky part is just remembering which framework solves which problem. We will be writing a detailed guide on each framework, but here is a high level guide to framework usage.
Why? Is this a good idea? Evaluate an opportunity? Brand extensions?
Market Sizing Questions
Who do we target? How do we position ourselves? How should we segment?
How? When? Where? What? How much?
Best ad? Worst ad?
3) Make a Clear Recommendation
With marketing cases, the interviewer is testing you to see if you have what it takes to be a world-class marketer. Can you synthesize complex information? Can you create well-thought out responses? Can you make a recommendation with minimal information? The last question is critical here.
You need to give a clear recommendation and justify it as best as you can. A recommendation with sound, logical justification is 100 times better than a “wishy washy response”. As marketers, we must make decision based upon incomplete information on a daily basis. If you can’t offer a clear, logical point of view, the interviewer will think you don’t have what it takes.
4) Don’t Take Too Much Time To Respond
Most advisors say that in case interviews, you should ask for 30 seconds or so before responding so that you can clearly gather your thoughts. While an interviewer will always give you that 30 seconds, they will be thinking to themselves “this person might be confused” during every one of those 30 seconds.
You want to be able to respond relatively quickly to the interviewer when answering a case question. Doing so will prove that you truly understand marketing concepts and can speak intelligently about problems that might need to be solved.
5) Think Different
If you follow the first 4 steps, you will be better than 90% of your peers who are also interviewing. The real trick is going from top 90% to being the best person for the job.
What really sets the best candidates apart is their ability to apply the marketing concepts in unique ways. They naturally use the marketing frameworks to set themselves up to offer very creative solutions. Instead of just talking about a certain pricing tactic, they will offer multiple tactics with insightful reasoning behind their responses. This isn’t an easy skill to master. It requires that you are fluent in marketing basics and that you are familiar with the way the industry works. It requires that you are up to date on marketing tactics (TV/Digital/Print/etc.) and that you can apply that knowledge appropriately. Honestly, the best way to get to this level is simply through practice. Practice your case interviews with as many people as you can and as often as you can. Through this practice you will begin to see yourself become more creative and thoughtful in your responses.
In all likelihood, you will start to see more job offers as well.
Not all marketing cases are created equal, but if you can manage through these 5 marketing interview tips you will be in a great position to knock them all out of the ballpark.
If you want to brush up on your case interview skills, check out our comprehensive online course. Then schedule a practice session with us today. We’ll get you on your way to answering marketing cases like a pro!