Ready for a New Marketing Communications Job? You’ve Prepared—Now Master the Interview

by Susan Mullin

You’re well under way in your search to find a new marketing and communications career for one of Washington, D.C.’s leading companies.

You’re done your research. You’ve prepped in advance. Now it’s time to master the interview. A lot of the hard work has already been done. Now it’s up to you to put your hard work into practice. Interviews always seem daunting, but it can actually be the most enjoyable part of the hiring process.

TorchLight’s marketing recruiters, who have coached Washington marketing professionals and hiring companies through countless interviews over the years, share their top tips so you can stop dreading, and start conquering, interviews:

Be Authentic

You will often hear that an interview is a chance to “sell yourself.” While the sentiment may be true, it’s a dangerous way to approach an interview. Nobody likes a sales call, and nobody likes an interview that turns into one. Above all, you have to be authentic in your interview. Keep in mind that authenticity is not an excuse for lax behavior. You absolutely want to be polished and professional, but you must balance that with truth and genuineness. Interviews are often as much about personality as they are skillsets. The company needs to be a good fit for you as much as you need to be a good fit for the company. You aren’t doing anyone a favor by masking your personality.

Stay Focused

One of the hardest parts of any interview is staying on topic. This is where your practice really pays off. This is your opportunity to talk about specific accomplishments and provide ideas and solutions. Don’t talk exclusively about the past or deal in hypotheticals. Spend additional time on topics that seem to be drawing the most excitement from your interviewers. Be confident, but not cocky. Be concise, but not too brief. Also, be mindful during the interview – listen actively and pause if you need to gather your thoughts. If you think you’ve been talking for too long, you probably have been.

Ask for Clarification

Don’t waste your precious interview time answering a question that wasn’t asked. Not all interviewers are clear or succinct, and you might need to politely seek clarification if you don’t fully understand a question. Further, if you feel like your answer may not have spoken to the heart of the question, it’s OK to ask if your response was sufficient. The more you understand what is being asked, the better your answer will be.

Avoid Salary and Benefits Talk

These are obviously important considerations for any role, and you should be prepared to talk details should the interviewer bring them up, but be cautious of broaching these subjects. It may be appropriate to ask a few general questions as you see fit. However, not all hiring managers will want to discuss the details of salary, benefits or a start date in an interview – especially a first interview. If possible, wait until you have been asked or an offer has been extended before discussing these nitty gritty details. In any case, tread lightly until you have a firm offer in hand or you may risk coming across as a demanding or difficult hire.

Close the Deal

At the end of the interview, be sure to ask about next steps and the timetable for a decision. Ask for business cards from everyone you meet so you can send a note thanking each person for their time. Many people skip this step because it seems outdated, but good manners are always appreciated—and noticed. Also, it’s a great excuse to keep the communication open post-interview. It’s never a bad idea to help keep yourself top of mind after an interview.

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Posted in , Interview Tips, Job Search Tips