Interview Preparation Beyond the “What, Why and How”

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Interview Preparation written on road signIf you are preparing to interview for a consumer packaged goods marketing or market research job, you may be concerned about giving the “wrong answer.” It’s true that you must demonstrate your knowledge with the “right answer.” But, it is likely that your interviewer will move past the basic skills evaluation to more subjective evaluation of talent, potential and fit.

Before the interviewer can conclude that you are the right person for the job, they will probe more deeply to satisfy the underlying questions about your:

  • Current skills and abilities. “Since I have an immediate need, can you step in and quickly begin contributing to our business?”
  • Talent and potential. “Since I’m hiring you for the long term, show me that you have the ability to grow, develop, advance and perform at increasing levels of responsibility.”
  • Fit. “Are your personality and character compatible with who and what we perceive ourselves to be? Is the chemistry right? Will I enjoy working with you? Do you want to work here?” As recruiters, we often observe fit to be the decisive factor controlling who receives the offer!

Think well beyond the “what you know” questions.

You will be fully prepared for your interview, if you are ready to engage in three evaluation techniques that focus on your potential for the job and fit for their culture.

Hypothetical situation questions are those where the interviewer presents you with a scenario and asks you what you would do in that situation. This technique is used when the interviewer wants to:

  • Learn how you would approach a situation you have not yet experienced in your career, and how well you extrapolate from your current base of knowledge and experience to meet new challenges.
  • Discover if you have an orderly problem-solving process.
  • Learn if you have common sense, good analytical instincts, and if you are energized by solving new problems or if you are uncertain or reluctant to venture beyond your comfort zone.
  • See how well you “think on your feet,” or even gauge how smart you are.

Case evaluations are an even more intense version of the hypothetical scenario question. They aren’t really interview questions per se. You are introduced to a situation, and asked to identify and describe your approach to the marketing issues and challenges. The major distinctions between a hypothetical situation and a case evaluation are that the case evaluation provides you with significantly more data, this data is written vs. oral. You are given a fixed period of time to work the case then present your results. The case evaluation enables the interviewer to evaluate your analytical, listening, problem-solving and communications skills. Importantly, it provides you with an opportunity to demonstrate your creativity, flexibility and powers of persuasion.

Role playing is a very powerful technique to evaluate talent and current skills for roles that require people to think on their feet, whether one-on-one or to large groups. Consider how your interviewer might use role play techniques as part of the total interview and evaluation process. Be ready to deliver the performance that will land you the part!

At O’Connell Group, we guide our CPG candidates through the interview process from start to finish. Contact us to learn more about how we can enhance your future career opportunities.

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