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Interview Preparation Checklist: 18 Tips to Get the Job

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Interview Preparation Checklist: 18 Tips to Get the Job

You’ve submitted your resume, talked to a recruiter, and set up a date for the first interview with a great company. But in the days leading up to the big interview, you’re feeling anxious, jittery, and downright scared.

What if you blank on how to answer a question? What should you say about your weaknesses? How soon do you follow up afterward?

If you’re feeling nervous about an upcoming interview, take a deep breath, grab a notepad, and work your way through this interview preparation checklist. You’ll be feeling a little less worried and a lot more confident in no time.

Pre-Interview Preparation Checklist

The steps you take leading up to the interview can really transform a normally stressful experience into something more pleasant. Sure, you could “wing it,” and answer questions on the fly as they come. But nothing will impress an interviewer more than showing that you did your homework. In your interview question prep, it’s smart to analyze your own working habits and study the company.

1. Print multiple copies of your resume.

Some interviews may require you to meet with multiple members of management, plus you may want to have one handy to reference as you talk about prior experiences. Print at least five copies of your resume on nice, high-quality paper, if possible.

2. Prepare a portfolio of your past work.

If the position requires you to show past work, like photographs, successful marketing campaigns, graphic designs, or written articles, gather your best work into one portfolio to share with the hiring team.

3. Review common interview questions.

Create a list of common questions, so you can begin preparing strong answers. Having some general talking points to the most-asked interview questions can help you feel less anxious for the interview process.

Even if the interviewer doesn’t ask one of the exact questions you’ve prepared for, they will likely ask something similar. For example, the interviewer might not ask “Why should we hire you?” but instead may say, “Tell us what makes you stand out from our other candidates.”

Here are some of the most common questions that come up in interview settings:

  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Tell me about a time that you solved a problem at work.
  • Why are you leaving your current position?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • What’s your biggest accomplishment?
  • What’s something your current supervisor would say you could improve on?
  • What is your leadership style?
  • What would you plan to accomplish in your first 3 months here?

4. Practice answering interview questions out loud.

Now that you’ve come up with a list of commonly asked interview questions, you can start outlining responses. Jot down some notes for every question you come up with, and once you have it all down on paper, start practicing your answers out loud. Sit in front of a mirror and recite responses. Your goal is to make them clear, concise and to the point, so you aren’t rambling in the actual interview.

5. Try having a mock interview for extra practice.

Practicing an interview with a housemate or friend is another effective way to practice your interviewing skills. The mock interviewer can help give you notes on improving your answers or digging more in-depth for certain questions.

6. Spend time researching the company.

It can be embarrassing to enter an interview, only to not know the basics like what the company does or who the CEO is. You should, at bare minimum, be prepared with the company’s products or services, ownership, customer demographics, and main competitors.

It’s also smart to look up any recent press releases about the company to be in the know on its latest developments, and check in on their social media to get an idea of the tone, voice, and key initiatives of the company.

7. Create a list of your accomplishments.

The main point of the interview is to show off your skills and talents in order to score a new job. But when you’re nervous, it’s easy to forget some of the impressive projects you’ve completed or problems you’ve solved during your career. Take notes on some of your biggest career highlights to share with the interviewer.

8. Prepare questions to ask your interviewer.

Asking thoughtful questions to the interviewer shows that you’ve done your homework and you’re interested in the company. Plus, the interview is a two-way street. Just as the company wants to make sure you are the right fit for the job, you should do your due diligence to make sure the company and position are a good fit for you.

Here are some questions to ask about the position, the interviewer, the culture, and the company as a whole:

  • What does a typical day in this position look like?
  • What are the biggest challenges in this role?
  • What do the training and evaluation processes look like for this role?
  • Why is the person previously in this position leaving?
  • What do you hope to see the person who takes this position accomplish in the first three months, six months, and first year?
  • Why did you come to this company, and what is your favorite part of working here?
  • What are some of the company’s short- and long-term goals, and how would the person in this role help in reaching those targets?
  • Can you tell me more about the team I’d be working with? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the team or department?
  • How would you describe the work environment here?
  • What are the next steps in the hiring process?

Interview Preparation Checklist

job interview preparation checklist

It’s the day of the interview. You have your portfolio and resume copies next to your car keys or bus pass, you’ve recited questions and answers in your head for days, and you’re just hours from walking through the front door of the company building. Here’s what to do before and during the interview.

1. Dress the part.

In general, you should wear clothing that fits well and makes you feel good. Mend holes, treat stains, and lint-roll any pet hair on your favorite interview outfit.

What you wear to the interview may vary based on the job and company, but here are some guidelines for what to wear depending on the company’s dress code.

  • Casual: Dark jeans, slacks, long skirts, or long dresses; button-down shirts, blouses, cardigans, or sweaters; tops without graphics; neat, closed-toe shoes.
  • Business Casual: Dark slacks or long skirts; button-down tops, blazers; neat, closed-toe shoes.
  • Formal: Dark suits with slacks or long skirts; dark, tailored dresses; a tie with suits; neat, closed-toe shoes.

2. Arrive on time (or early).

Showing up to an interview can leave a bad first impression. Plan to arrive 10 to 20 minutes early, and give yourself time to find the building, park, and check-in with the front desk. Account for traffic, too — that 9 a.m. interview means that you’ll be driving along during morning rush hour. Have a backup transportation option, such as biking, walking, or getting a ride from a friend, if you typically take public transit, in case the train or bus is running late that day.

If the building is in a location you’ve never been to, make sure you map it out to avoid getting lost. If you’re not great with directions, you may want to practice the drive once or twice in the days leading up to the interview.

3. Bring paper and something to write with.

Taking notes shows that you are invested in what the interviewer is saying to you. But it also means you can review your notes for pros and cons if you are offered the job. Plus, you can revert back to any points the interviewer made early on in your appointment and ask for more information or clarification when it’s your turn to ask questions.

4. Have cash on hand for parking.

Some companies have paid parking garages or valet services for guests. While they might validate the parking ticket for you, don’t assume they will. Bring about $20 in cash just in case you need it for parking. If you don’t need the cash, take yourself out to lunch as a post-interview treat!

5. Be personable and courteous.

Everyone you meet from the parking garage to the interviewer could be your future co-workers. They may also be asked for input on how you interacted with them during the hiring process. Smile, wave hello, and greet anyone you pass. It never hurts to be kind to others!

6. Remain honest and take breaks as needed.

If you fabricate your resume or interview responses, the truth will become clear while you’re on the job. Answer questions honestly, and if you aren’t sure how to respond to a question off the bat, don’t be afraid to take a moment. Simply say, “Great question! Let me think for just one second on this.” We’re all human, and it’s a completely normal response to need to pause before thoughtfully answering a question.

7. Use the STAR method.

The STAR method is a popular technique for responding to even the toughest interview questions. Interviews ask situational questions to gauge how you respond to certain issues. The STAR method addresses multiple components of a problem while allowing you to clearly, thoroughly explain your logic and response.

  • Situational: Describe the situation or issue.
  • Task: Explain what your tasks or responsibilities were relating to the situation.
  • Action: Share what actions you took to complete your tasks and address the situation.
  • Results: Outline how your actions resolved the issue or what results came from your actions.

8. Stay focused and positive.

Interviewing is stressful and nerve-wracking, but remaining positive and upbeat can make all the difference in your performance. You might be asked why you are leaving your position or how you performed under previous managers and their varied leadership styles. Talking poorly about the company and previous leaders can leave a bad impression on your interviewer.

Keep your answers positive, and stay focused on answering each question with your experience rather than rambling as you respond. This is where practicing answers in the pre-interview preparation can come in handy.

Post-Interview Preparation Checklist

Just because you’ve shaken the hands of your interviewer(s) and taken a big sigh of relief, it doesn’t mean the interview is behind you. Of course, you could be brought in for second, third, or fourth interviews, but no matter what stage you’re at, it’s important to leave a good, lasting impression.

1. Ask about the next steps.

Either at the end of your interview or immediately after, you’ll want to ask about the timeline for the next steps of the hiring process. This way, you can anticipate when you’ll hear back from the company. You may need to take an edit test, share more samples of your work, or return for another interview.

2. Follow up with a thank you.

Always follow up an interview with a thank-you note. It’s best to send along a handwritten note to show your care and attention to detail. But if you don’t have the time to do so, an email is also a thoughtful way to show your appreciation for the interviewer’s time and consideration. If you don’t know the interviewer’s email, you can also email the recruiter or other point of contact and ask them to send along your gratitude.

Get Your Dream Job with Some Interview Prep

The interview question prep process can make or break your interview experience. While sending along your resume and portfolio in advance can give recruiters a good idea of whether or not you’d be great at the job, the interview helps the team learn more about you and how you work.

Don’t forget, interviewing is a two-way street, and the more you prepare, the better questions you can ask. By following this interview preparation checklist, you’ll feel more confident and prepared as you navigate your next interview.

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

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via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

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Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

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So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

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  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

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So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

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The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


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