Competency questions for marketing interviews

Interview Tips – competency-based marketing interview questions

What are competency-based questions?

Competency-based questions (also known as structured, behavioural or situational questions) are some of the most commonly used in interviews. They are based on the idea that looking at how someone has behaved in the past is the best way to predict how they will react in future situations. Employers also like using competency interviews as they make it easy to compare candidates.

Competency-based interview questions concentrate on how you have you used your skills and experience in previous situations and what behaviours you have demonstrated when tackling tasks, challenges and opportunities. The answers given are then used to judge how well a candidate matches the competencies required in the role.

For example, if a role requires the ability to handle a certain amount of pressure, an interviewer may ask “Have you ever been put on the spot? How did you handle the situation?”

This type of question typically begins with “Describe a time when you…”, “Can you give me an example…” or “How would you handle…”. Interviewers often then ask follow-up questions to draw out even more information.

What sort of competencies are they looking for?

The competencies an employer is looking for will vary depending on the particular role, but some key competencies include:

  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Planning and organisation
  • Teamwork
  • Responsibility
  • Decision making
  • Leadership
  • Problem-solving
  • Goal orientation

Interviewers will also be looking for a good grasp on the technical skills required to do the job.

How to answer competency-based questions

One of the best ways to make sure you fully answer competency-based questions is to use the STAR technique:

You set the scene by describing the context in which the situation took place.

You describe your specific goal in that situation. If you were working as part of a team, make sure to outline exactly which responsibilities were yours.

Go through the actions you undertook to achieve your goal, from building a strategy to carrying out a campaign. Make it specific but try not to get bogged down in the detail.

The final outcome of your actions, including quantifiable metrics wherever possible. Employers want to know you can measure the effect of your activity. Keep it positive, so even if your project was not a success, make sure you talk about what you learned.

How to prepare for competency-based questions

It is almost inevitable that a marketing job interview will feature some competency-based questions, so it’s worth putting in some time to prepare for these. The best place to start is by going through the job description and person specification with a fine-tooth comb. What qualities are they looking for? What competencies would be required to handle each of the role’s responsibilities?

The next step is to go through your own CV and list the key responsibilities of your most recent roles. For each of these responsibilities, think about your achievements.

Finally, going through both your past achievements and the behaviours required for the role, prepare a couple of good examples of situations in which you demonstrated key competencies.

Examples of typical competency questions for marketing interview

Some typical competency-based questions for marketers include:

Marketing skills

  • What was your most successful marketing strategy in your previous role? How did you put it together and how did you assess its impact?
  • Tell me about a marketing campaign you conducted which was not successful. What did you learn from it?
  • Describe an integrated marketing campaign you recently worked on. What channels did you use and why?
  • How confident are you working within marketing budgets? Can you tell me about a time when you had to compromise to come within budget What did you prioritise?
  • What was one way in which you went about improving <key performance metric> in your previous role?
  • Can you tell me about a time when you developed an innovative solution to a marketing problem?
  • Have you ever had to reconcile contradictory or misleading metrics from a campaign? How did you go about it?

Team working and leadership skills

  • Can you give me an example of a time when you experienced conflict within your team? How did you handle it?
  • Give me an example of a situation in which you had to work together with people who had very different approaches and ideas to you. How did you manage it?
  • Tell me about your biggest limitation when it comes to managing others. Can you give me an example of a time you overcame that limitation?
  • Describe a time when you had to give negative feedback to a team member. How did you phrase it in a constructive way?
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