The old saying that “quality sells” still holds some truth, but even quality products have to be discovered first, before people can buy them repeatedly, and help to spread the good word. You can write the best book in the world, come up with a recipe for the best ever muesli bar, or develop a mobile app that can change the way in which we diagnose certain illnesses. Unless you promote it, people won’t buy it. Because other individuals and companies promote their works of art, software, groceries, and whatever. And flooded with information as we are in 21st century, the majority of people will simply buy the things that get the most exposure in the media they follow. Simple as that. Sad? Maybe. But that’s the world we live in.
No surprise marketing is one of the most important departments across all industries, be it products, services, ideas, dreams, or even illusions. Each company, big or small, needs to market their products. Each middle sized of big company runs an entire marketing department, with many confusing job titles and monikers. Marketing assistant sits at the bottom of the pyramid. It is an entry level marketing position, one you may get straight out of college or even out of high school in some cases. And while you won’t design new campaigns or do other exciting stuff, the job is a starting point of your career in the field, and definitely not your final destination. Let’s have a look at the questions you may face in your interview for this entry level job.
Why do you want to work as a marketing assistant?
The most important thing is to be realistic about the job. Sure enough, you can mention the crucial role marketing plays in the success story of each and every product. But you should add that you understand that you won’t play a big part in this story as a marketing assistant. However, it is a start, your opportunity to learn from more experienced marketers, and perhaps the only role you can realistically get in their marketing department with your current level of experience (or no experience at all).
It doesn’t mean that you should sound bitter, however. You know that you have to climb the corporate ladder step by step, and do not see this as your final station. You are ready to work hard, learn from your colleagues and eventually prove your skills when it comes to certain areas of marketing, and get a promotion to a more fascinating role, one in which you’ll be responsible for more creative tasks. Because at the end of the day, this is exactly what they expect to hear. They do not want you to work as a marketing assistant for ten years. In a year or two you’ll get a promotion–if things go well. That’s why it is a good idea to ensure them you have the same plan.
In all honesty I dream of making it big in marketing. And there isn’t a better place to kick-start my career than in a successful international corporation like this one. With no working experience and just few personal projects, I can hardly hope to start as a creative director here though. I know that I have to start from the bottom, prove my skills, and step by step reach the pinnacle of the marketing department here. That’s the plan, and this is the first step. I believe to have what it takes to do an excellent job as a marketing assistant, and cannot wait to start.
How do you imagine a typical day in your job of a marketing assistant?
The key is avoid getting carried away, talking about duties that are far beyond the limits of this role–such as doing some creative work and designing the campaigns. Ensure the hiring managers that you know you’ll spend your days in front of a computer screen, taking care of mostly repetitive and mundane tasks, such as some data entry, data analysis, answering emails, and dealing with simply graphic tasks your superiors will assign you to do.
Of course, you may take part in some meetings, and what exactly you will do depends on the company and their corporate hierarchy, but you should keep your expectations low at this point, and should not fancy doing things you may be allowed to do only in two or three years from now. Do not forget to read the job description carefully before the start of your interview, just to have a better picture of what you can expect at work on a daily basis.
I imagine spending my entire days in front of a computer screen, taking care of tasks my more experienced colleagues assign to me. It can be some simple design, it can be a data analysis, or just an email communication with a customer. Or ordering some office supplies. Whatever it is, I imagine being busy, always have something to do–and that’s exactly the way I like it.
What computer software you have experience with?
Try to answer the question with some detail. Saying that you can work with all basic components of MS Office is fine, but it is much better saying that you’ve been working with Excel for 10 years, both at school and outside of it, analyzing data, creating charts, and benefiting from mathematical and statistical functionality of the software.
Of course, you can mention any graphic design software or informational system such as SAP (if you’ve worked with it in your last job). At the end of the day, you’ll spend your days at work in front of a computer screen, so it makes sense saying that you are quite tech-savvy, and can find your way around different software products, including some you haven’t worked with before.
To start with, I’ve been working with MS Word, MS Excel, and MS PowerPoint for over ten years, since high school. They helped me numerous times, and I believe to have a knowledge of both basic and advanced functionality of each of these software products. I’ve been also working with CorelDraw for about three years, in my last job and also for my personal design projects. What’s more, I have some experience with Zoner and also with SAP, though I would need some time to get back to it, since I haven’t worked with them for a few years. However, I typically do not struggle to learn new things, and you can be sure I will quickly learn to work with any software you use here.
What do you expect from a marketing manager, marketing specialist, and other people from the marketing department you will work with on a daily basis?
Well, you may get a lot of stuff--leadership, management, but also some unnecessary bossing and criticism. Therefor I suggest you to keep your expectations low. For example, you can say that you expect a clear communication from all your superiors and colleagues, because you will be a new force in the marketing department, and it is important that someone tells you what they expect from you, and what you should do.
Another good idea is talking about feedback. Say that you hope to get a lot of feedback on your work–for the same reason, you’ll be new in the company and without a doubt you will make some mistakes. But you can also say that you hope that managers will be receptive to feedback from your side, and you hope for a good and open communication overall.
Another option is saying that you do not have any special expectations. You consider their marketing department an excellent one (you studied their work before the interviews), and are sure that people know what they should do, including their work with new marketing assistants like you.
More than anything else, I expect some guidance and a lot of feedback on my work. I will be a new force in the company, and though I believe in my skills and abilities, first and foremost I have to learn. That’s why I hope my new colleagues in the marketing department won’t ignore me, and, on the contrary, will communicate openly with me, providing some constructive criticism, helping me to get better in my job. Other than that I do not have any special expectations.
You’ll have to meet some deadlines in your job. Can you tell us about the last time you had to meet a tight deadline?
Marketing assistant can be a stressful job, especially if you report to different managers and they assign you conflicting priorities, which is often the case, or you simply have too much work on your plate with deadlines looming. Talking about a situation from the past (from your former job, or from school if this is your first job application), you should simply demonstrate that you do not mind working overtime on some days, when an important deadline approaches, and can typically prioritize your work well.
As with other scenario-based questions (“tell me about a time when”), the hiring managers care mostly about your attitude. As long as they see that you do not mind stepping out of your comfort zone or stay two extra hours at work when an important deadline approaches, they will be satisfied with your answer. It doesn’t even matter whether you eventually met the deadline or not, because we never quite have things fully under control. What matters is that you tried your best to meet it.
I remember the last one from my former job of office assistant. Suddenly the company got a chance to close an unexpected deal with a big client, and I was responsible for creating the necessary documentation, presentation in PowerPoint, and other things. That wouldn’t be anything special, but the thing is I got the task at 2pm in the afternoon and the meetings with the client took place the next morning. It was super tight, but I did not panic. I stayed at work until 10pm that day, trying my very best to get everything ready. Eventually we didn’t get the client–that’s just how it goes sometimes. But for me it was a good experience, and as you can see I do not mind going above and beyond for my employer from time to time.
Do you have any idea about your marketing specialization in the future?
Let’s be honest. All jobs in marketing are popular. It is not unheard of to receive over 100 applications for a single vacancy of a marketing assistant, when we talk about one of the Fortune 500 companies. When deciding who they will hire, they already think five years ahead.
Can this guy be a PPC specialist one day? And what about this girl? Couldn’t she run the entire creative department in the future, considering her talent? You can bet that they have such questions on their mind, and besides your actual readiness for the job of a marketing assistant, they consider also your possibility to grow in the company, and have one of the crucial roles in their marketing department in the future.
Needless to say, you should help them with their imagination. Think about your strengths, passions, what you enjoy doing, what you excel at. Browse a random job board and check a variety of job openings in marketing–there are dozens if not hundreds of various job titles in the field. Read the job descriptions, and try to find something that resonates with you, with your personality, strengths, and preferences. Than you can point it out as your “dream future occupation” within their marketing department.
Obviously, you do not have to stick to the promises from the interviews, and can leave the company anytime. While talking to the hiring managers, however, you should be able to present them some vision of your professional future, and ideally one that you can connect with their business…
I definitely have an idea. To say it more precisely, it is my goal, my vision. I’d like to specialize in online advertising, and especially video ads campaigns, since in my opinion in the future it will prevail, and dominate the marketplace. Having said that, I know it isn’t time for it yet… I have to learn everything first. But it is good to know that your company has an entire team dedicated to online campaigns, and perhaps one day, once I prove my skills as a marketing assistant, I can join this team.
Other questions you may face in your marketing assistant job interview
- Describe a situation when you reached a goal and tell us how you achieved it.
- Tell us about an obstacle you overcame.
- Describe a time when you struggled to communicate something to your boss, colleague, or to a customer. How did you manage to get your message over?
- Give an example of a time when you showed initiative at work.
- Tell us about the mist difficult situation you’ve ever faced at work.
- Tell us about a time when you received a difficult feedback from someone. How did you react?
- Have you ever felt overwhelmed with work? How did you deal with the situation?
- Who has impacted you the most in your career?
- When you hear the word “marketing”, what do you imagine first?
- What tasks do you not enjoy doing?
- Why should we hire you, and not one of the other dozens applicants for this marketing assistant job opening?
Final thoughts, next steps
Marketing assistant is a popular job title in big corporations. It always attracts many applicants, and you can easily compete with dozens of people for a single vacancy. It alone makes this interview difficult.
What’s more, most big corporations have sophisticated interview processes in place, and you’ll have to answer many scenario-based (behavioral) questions in the interviews. Speaking honestly, you have to prepare well for this one, and you may also need a bit of luck to succeed.
Try to prepare for all questions from this article, and do not forget to check also other online sources. I hope you will manage to succeed, and wish you best of luck!
May also interest you:
- How to overcome interview nerves – A simple guide on getting rid of stress and showing your very best when it matters the most–during your meetings with the hiring managers.
- Salary negotiation tips – Learn how to get as much as you deserve when they start talking money and benefits.
- Marketing and sales interviews – Check the interview questions for other job titles in the field.