How To Answer The Most Important Interview Question

Navigating an interview during a marketing executive search can be intimidating, even for the most seasoned professionals. You need to be prepared to provide the right answers to their key interview questions.

In my role at MarketPro, a boutique executive search firm specializing in top-tier marketing talent, I meet with candidates during their screening process, after they have passed the initial interview focused on marketing skill set and results. My focus is on determining if a candidate will be a good culture fit and the right kind of leader for our client.

Recently, during separate interviews, I asked two different candidates a crucial interview question, and both responded similarly, but neither gave the answer that would make them attractive to the hiring organization. One of these candidates is a digital marketing rockstar from a performance marketing perspective, but even he did not understand the underlying meaning of the question I had asked.

The Question And The Common Pitfall

The question I asked was, “What are you looking for in your next opportunity?”

A common pitfall for many is to answer with what they are seeking to gain from the opportunity and to overlook discussing how their abilities align with the company’s needs and how they can add value.

Both of these candidates answered by describing their personal career goals, such as wanting a VP of Marketing position where they could lead a team and drive strategic initiatives. While these responses are honest, they are self-focused and miss the mark in an interview context.

What The Interviewer Is Really Asking

When interviewers ask what you are looking for in your next opportunity, the information they are seeking is, “What can you bring to our organization, and why should we consider you as a potential candidate?” They want to understand how your experience, skills, and background align with their goals and how you can help their organization move forward. The more you can frame your answer around the company’s needs and less around your personal desires, the better your chances of success.

How To Answer This Key Interview Question The Right Way

One of the biggest mistakes candidates for high-level marketing positions make is focusing too much on their past achievements without clearly articulating how they can apply their skills and experiences to the specific challenges and goals of the prospective company.

Structuring your response to the question “What are you looking for in your next opportunity?” requires some advanced preparation. Consider the following as you craft your response to ensure it links your experience and expertise with their organization’s current needs:

  • Research the company to fully understand their market, current challenges, and the goals of their organization so you can tailor your answer to demonstrate how your skill set will add value;
  • Share professional achievements that demonstrate your ability to meet the specific needs and challenges of their company;
  • Clearly show that you understand the company’s direction and how your background and experience can contribute to its success.

Highlight Your Capabilities While Showing Your Worth

By aligning your past experiences with the prospective company’s needs, you show how your skills are directly applicable to the challenges the company is currently facing. It also demonstrates that you have a strategic understanding of their market and goals while showcasing the benefits you can bring to their organization.

When asked this key interview question, the more your answer demonstrates your worth to the hiring organization, the more you will stand out among the other candidates.

Instead of the example, “I led a successful marketing campaign that increased sales by 35%” (all about your past accomplishments) consider articulating it like this:

“In my previous role at ABC Corporation, I led a marketing campaign that drove a 35% increase in sales through targeted digital marketing strategies and data-driven decision-making. From my research, I see that XYZ is looking to expand its digital presence and capture higher engagement levels with its target audience. I believe my experience in developing comprehensive digital marketing strategies can help drive similar results in XYZ by focusing on (relaying a specific strategy relevant to the company’s goals).”

Correctly answering the question, “What are you looking for in your next opportunity?” is vital to making a strong and favorable impression. By focusing on how your experience and skills can benefit the company, you not only demonstrate your competence but also your understanding and genuine interest in the opportunity.

Remember, the more you make your answer about how you can help the organization, the more attractive you will be to the hiring team.