Analyzing the past, predicting the future. As if it was easy in our fast paced era! As if the conditions didn’t change every day, as if we could predict anything. Though extremely difficult in 21st century, market research is an integral part of every business. Companies that underestimate the research will often end up on a losing street. Just like many of those who do not underestimate the importance of researching market trends, but do not make the right evaluation of the data. Successes and failures aside, how can you get this great job in an interview?
You will have to deal with many difficult questions – personal, behavioral, technical. Your skills will be tested, but more importantly your attitude to work, your motivation, and your personality. Remember that big players will always provide you with excellent training, and most of their research work is automated–you will only insert data to predefined tables, and interpret the results of a computer program.
For this reason, the core of an interview with big corporations will consists in personal and behavioral questions. Let’s have a look at some questions.
Why do you want to work as a market research analysts?
Talk about an impact you want to make in your job. Say that you understand the crucial part of research in every success story, and want to play a part in their success story.
You can also say that you love statistics and numbers and charts, and enjoy doing what market analysts typically do in their job. You can also say that the job is a perfect match for your skills and strengths, such as excellent analytical and observation skills.
Why do you want to work for us, and not one of our competitors?
You should find something that resonates with you. Their filed of business, corporate values, working environment, employees’ benefits, anything. Shown them that you did your homework, and are excited to work for them. Another option is referring to the size of the company. If you apply for a job in a small company (I’d always recommend this option), say that you want to work in a small team, have a variety of duties, since you believe you will learn a lot in your new job, and it is a great choice for your career.
Oppositely, applying for work with one of the big players, you can point out international team, endless possibilities for career growth, and prestige that comes with the position in their company.
What is your experience with market research?
Regardless of your previous working experience, you should talk about some research you did. Particular examples are always better. Even the project you did at school, gathering data on consumer demographics, preferences, needs, and buying habits in a particular field, is a good example of your experience.
Try to speak with enthusiasm. Show them that you enjoyed your research work, and try to refer to interesting conclusions (interpretations) of your market research. In a good answer to this question you can actually demonstrate your readiness for each part of the job.
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What motivates you the most in work?
Once again, a good answer depends on the size of the company, and scope of your duties. If you apply for a job in a small company, you can say that having a direct impact on the financial results of the business motivates you greatly. Or you can emphasize the big scope of working duties, and feeling of belonging to a team of people.
In a big company, however, the situation changes. In this case you can refer to international environment, being a part of something big, learning the basics of the business, or even a good amount of money you will earn for doing simple research tasks with them.
Describe a process for forecasting the sales of a new product.
The right answer depends on a variety of factors (the uniqueness of the product, the set of data you have access to, the industry the company operates in, etc). Nevertheless, you can refer to some generally accepted ways of doing research, such as:
- Analyzing similar products of your competitors, and their marketing strategies.
- Working with historical data for products with similar life cycle, from the same niche.
- Market segmentation and surveys with groups of target audience.
- Small-scale advertising campaigns, monitoring the results and various steps of conversions.
- Holistic analysis of market trends and conditions.
In your opinion, what will be the top product in our industry in five years time?
Not an easy question. If you were really sure of an answer, you’d likely not apply for a job with the company. You’d start your own business, and bring the top product to the market. Nobody can say what will happen in five years from now, in any filed of business.
Nevertheless, your attitude matters to the interviewers. So make your guess, and present some arguments. Show some understanding of the market, the target audience, and their field of business. And if you have no clue at all, say that you’d need to do an extensive market research first, to be able to make any real predictions.
Tell us about the worst prediction you ever made as a market researcher.
You won’t find a single market research analyst with 3+ years of experience who has never made a really bad prediction or estimation. There are just too many variables, and it’s impossible to hit the bulls eye every time. You will often hit your dart to a wall. Hands down. We all make mistakes.
The hiring managers do not want to hear that you have never made a mistake. They are interested in your attitude to mistakes . Can you admit making a mistake? How did it affect you in your job? Did you learn anything from it?
Speak about your mistake(s) in a calm and cheerful way. Try to describe the reasons why you didn’t hit the target, and tell them how this experience helped you to avoid making the same mistake again.
When you apply for your first job, you can talk about a mistake you made while researching markets at school, or you can talk only about your attitude to mistakes (that you count with them, that they belong to the learning process, etc).
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Companies hate to see their market research analysts go. These employees will know a lot about the company, their numbers, their successes and failures. Many competitors will find such data interesting, and may even headhunt analysts who work for many years in a single company, one that happens to be their main competitor…
Therefor, regardless of your future plans, I suggest you to say that you will be happy to work for the same company in five years time. When you apply for a job with one of the big players, you can talk about promotion, or even cross-department relocation (switching from market research to marketing, or accounting, or other field in a few years). When you apply in a small company, your best bet is to say that you’d happily continue working as an analyst for them.
Other questions you may get in your market research interview
- Describe a situation when you were under pressure in work.
- Tell us about a time when you used logic to solve a problem.
- Describe the best project (analysis) you’ve ever worked on.
- Tell us about a time when you faced a crisis of motivation. What did you do to overcome it?
- Describe a time when you struggled to communicate something to your boss or colleague. How did you manage to get your message over?
- Tell us about a time when you felt overwhelmed with work.
- Describe the situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone.
- When you worked on multiple projects, how did you prioritize?
Special tip no. 2: If you struggle with answers to the behavioral questions (you are not alone), consider having a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to 30 most common behavioral interview questions (+ more) will ensure you will get the most out of your next market research analyst job interview…
Market research is a popular job field. Applying for a position with a big company, you will typically compete with more than ten other people for the job. Margins will be razor-thin, and for this reason we have to categorize it as a difficult interview.
Try to prepare for the questions in the best possible way. And try to stay positive, and believe in your chances. Success in an interview is a not question of luck. As long as you do more than your competitors to prepare, and have a positive mindset, you should make it. I wish you good luck!
Matthew Chulaw, Your personal interview coach
* You can also download the list of questions in a one page long PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later:
May also interest you:
- Marketing interview questions – Do you apply for an entry level job in marketing? You can expect them to test your creativeness and ideas with a couple of practical exercises. Behavioral and personal questions will help the hiring managers to create a complete picture of your skills and personal traits.
- How to answer interview questions – It is not only about what you say, but also how you say it in an interview.