Five Job Interview Skills Your Competition Doesn’t Have

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Our marketing team is in the middle of an organizational redesign. We are moving from a mostly traditional structure (organized by skill sets) to a demand generation and revenue marketing team aligned with our sales and recruitment funnel. Because of this, we’ve needed to hire additional modern marketers who are content creators, understand analytics and are fully digitally fluent.

So, I’ve been doing a lot of interviewing over the past several weeks and I have to say, overall I am not impressed.  While we’ve hired some really great people, we’ve left a lot more candidates out of consideration because they just don’t know how to interview. So here’s a few tips on what interview skills you need to brush up on to have a better chance of interviewing successfully with me (and I’m sure a bunch of other people too):

  1. Know something about me, my company, my competition and my industry. I can’t tell you how many candidates haven’t taken 5-10 minutes to at least have a surface understanding of my business. Guess what, I’ll never hire you because of this.
  2. Be digitally fluent. I’m not a spring chicken, but I take pride in how much I know about digital marketing and social media. That doesn’t happen by accident – I learn by doing, by reading, by attending online and offline events. I don’t care if you’re 66 or 26 – if you want to be successful in marketing today, you have to be digitally fluent. You have to participate in the digital world both professionally and personally. If you’re not participating in social media, if you’re not blogging, if you can’t name the blogs or the sites you are reading to stay informed, you will not get hired by me.
  3. Don’t show me stuff unless I ask to see it. This happens more with traditional marketers and is a dead give-away that you’re not comfortable having a professional conversation. When a candidate starts throwing portfolios, binders, brochures, and business plans at me without me asking to see them first (hint, I never will), then I get concerned about your confidence, your judgment, and your focus on what really matters: results.
  4. Be yourself. I can usually tell when you’re faking it. When I ask you a question that you don’t understand, ask me to rephrase the question. Don’t start babbling something that is irrelevant interview-speak. If you don’t have an answer to my question, simply say “I don’t know the answer to that.” You will score many more points with me when you’re honest and candid. And yourself.
  5. Ask the right questions. I’m usually shocked by the types of questions I get asked during an interview – and the types of questions I don’t get asked. If you want to work for me, ask about my company’s primary goals and our challenges. Ask about the expectations for the person who wins the job. Ask about the culture here. Please don’t ask about how much vacation you’ll get, or what the benefits are like – that info will be presented to you at the offer stage. And be careful about every question you ask – this is probably one of the most important parts of the interview and it’s often vastly underestimated by job seekers. Be prepared – this is the area where you can really impress me.

Agree? Disagree? What did I miss? Please share your tips and comments!

Want more advice from Ed? Follow him on Twitter @edblust!

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