Most serious job hunters are wise enough to do some research on common interview questions and prepare accordingly. There’s certainly no shortage of information available, of varying reliability. But there’s one kind of question that often goes overlooked, and it takes our candidates by surprise.
It usually goes something like this:
“Tell me something I wouldn’t know from looking at your resume.”
“Tell me something no one else knows about you.”
Though our recruiters don’t always ask this question, it’s becoming increasingly popular among our clients’ hiring managers. It catches a lot of people off guard, leading to unimpressive answers. That makes it a good opportunity for you to shine.
What the Interviewer Wants to Hear
This type of question serves different purposes for different interviewers, so there’s no definitive response they’re looking for in all candidates. But there are a few common expectations that can help you formulate a strategy for your answer:
- How do you organize your thoughts? If you’re telling an anecdote or story, is it well thought out and well told? Do you connect topics and events linearly, or jump all around? Communication is an essential skill at all levels of marketing. Being able to explain a situation, share your challenges and capabilities, and explain a solution in an efficient and compelling manner gives you a huge edge over other marketers.
- Can you think on your feet? Because this is a less-common question, the interviewer may be trying to get you away from canned, rehearsed answers and see if they can get a glimpse of the real you. Marketing is moving fast, and hiring managers want people who can respond nimbly to challenges and adjust their strategy on the fly.
- What do you consider most important for the interviewer to know? Your answer to this question could say a lot about your perception of yourself and your interviewer. The ability to engage someone with the benefits of a brand and keep their attention is a key marketing skill. Are you able to do the same with your personal brand?
- Are you able to relate the story back to the job? It’s a nice indication of higher-level thinking if you can tell a personal story but relate the points about you back to why you would be a good candidate for the job.
- Are you saying anything you shouldn’t? Whatever your response, it needs to be appropriate for the situation. This isn’t to say that interviewers are trying to trip you up. But if you bring up something very unprofessional, badmouth someone from your past, or otherwise speak inappropriately it will reflect poorly on you.
Remember, the interviewer’s mission is to identify the best fits for their marketing jobs. It’s logical for them to try to move you away from more rehearsed speeches into more authentic territory– even if that doesn’t put you in the best light.
Hiring marketers? Download our interview questions checklists!
Prepping for this Question
As with all interview questions, it’s important to think about how you might answer. But don’t compose your answer and memorize it word for word—anything that’s too rehearsed comes off as inorganic. A savvy interviewer will be able to tell if you’re reading from a mental script rather than offering a genuine reply.
This is an open-ended question. It’s a great opportunity to show your communication, storytelling and creativity. Use it to highlight aspects of your qualifications, history, or skills that would go undetected in your resume.
- Make it memorable. Whatever your answer might be, it should be something that really makes you stand out. You could well be competing against dozens of other applicants—many of whom have likely done important, productive things. Sharing something truly remarkable, entertaining, funny, or coincidental will often get you further than regurgitating another story of a professional success that makes you look good.
- Have a few options ready. Don’t put all your interview eggs in one basket. Think of a few general answers for this kind of question and keep them in the back of your mind. When the need arises, choose the one that makes the most sense in the context of the rest of the interview and what you’ve learned about your interviewer.
- Keep your core strengths in mind. Go into every interview with a good idea of the core strengths you would bring to the job, and then take the chance to highlight those skills with your answer. What characteristics of your personal brand make you most desirable and set you apart? Think of a few instances to draw from your past that emphasize them.
- Think about intangible strengths and soft skills. Your resume should highlight achievements and metrics, but this is your opportunity to highlight your best soft skills: leadership, integrity, communication, motivation, ambition, insight, flexibility, etc.
- Share something personal. If the question comes towards the end of the interview, and you feel you’ve already been able to make your case for your job skills, you might choose to highlight something from your personal life that reflects well on your character. Consider sharing only personal things that are universally accepted as positive, like being an avid chess player or enjoying mountain climbing, rather than anything that could be considered controversial, like volunteering with a political cause.
- Explain why you want the job. If the opportunity calls for it, this is a good spot in the interview to explain why you are particularly passionate about the job or marketing in general. It’s not always necessary to tie every single part of your interview discussions back to your interest in the position. But making that personal connection as frequently as possible doesn’t hurt.
Figuring out how to answer these more open-ended and personal questions is like solving a riddle; the answer should show how you fit into this new job opportunity. As important as it is to think about these questions before you go into the interview, it’s equally important that your answers sound natural and conversational, not memorized and artificial.
The Importance of Interview Authenticity from a Communications Expert
Video from Kim A. Page
This sort of open-ended question can be intimidating. But you should really look forward to them, because they afford you the opportunity to be your real self and highlight any of your best qualities that don’t fit into the resume template.
Have you ever dealt with an interview question like this? How did you respond? I’d love to hear your success stories (or even those that didn’t go over so well).
More Advice on Interviewing for Marketing Jobs
Now, I’ve held off from publishing these for a long time because I think great hiring is a key ingredient in my secret sauce, but the desire to do great inbound marketing by sharing tips with the community and demonstrating thought leadership has finally won out, so have at ’em. All my best interview questions are here for the taking. More.
How To Prepare For A Marketing Job Interview
On your job interview, you need to be sure that you market yourself properly to create that chemistry between you and the employer. More.