As a brand manager, strategy is key to your success. You’ll be responsible for planning and directing the marketing efforts of your company’s brand – and that means strategizing the best markets to tap, developing initiatives, and laying out the details of your marketing plan, among other duties.
Before all of that though, you have to get hired. The job interview process too is all about strategy; to land the job, you have to analyze what the prospective employer wants and then answer his questions in a way that illustrates that you have what it takes to do the job well. As you prepare for your interview, try to learn as much as you possibly can about the company and its brands, and practice answering these common brand manager interview questions.
1. Why does brand management matter?
This is your chance to show your commitment to this career field, but the answer really comes from Marketing 101. Answer this one passionately, talking about how brand management matters because it helps companies differentiate their products from others on the market, helps to develop a positive image for the brand and, probably most importantly, helps to bring in new customers and keep existing ones.
2. What do you know about this brand?
Ahead of any interview, you should have conducted as much research as possible about the company’s products and how they’re marketed. Answer the question by talking about past brand initiatives, noteworthy campaigns, and even any return on investment numbers you’ve been able to get your hands on. You can also mention any information you have about its customer base and who it’s marketed to.
3. What do you think your job here would entail?
Naturally, you can use the job posting to glean some details, but what the employer is looking for here is whether you’ve taken the time to envision yourself in the role. Answer the question by sharing some details about what brand managers do, such as overseeing the performance of a brand, budgeting, strategizing, developing market research or working with advertising agencies. Add more by talking about any particular details you know about the company, such as people you might be working with and relying on, for example.
4. How would you improve our current branding strategy?
This can be a tricky one since you don’t want to offend your prospective employer – nor do you want to give away too many details that the employer might then use, without hiring you on. Still, you need to show the employer that you’ve thought about new ideas for the brand, based on your knowledge of the market and the product. Have one or two ideas ready at the interview, and come prepared with a few details about how you’d implement those ideas.
5. Tell us about your personal brand.
With this question, the employer wants to gauge how you see yourself, but also how you’ll fit into the corporate culture. The key here is to try to align your description with the way the company or the brand is advertised. If you find that you’re having a hard time painting yourself as someone who blends in well with the corporate culture, however, it might be a sign that you’re not a good fit for the position and the brand. Another thing to keep in mind: make this response about how you’ll fit in with this particular team and how you want this job, and not on your overall career aspirations.
6. How have you handled strategies that aren't working?
These "behavioral" style interview questions are popular in the interview room these days. The idea is that the way you’ve behaved in the past can indicate how you’ll behave in the future. Strike a positive tone to answer this question, focusing not so much on what wasn’t working, but on the specific steps you took to fix the problem. Use the "STAR" model to outline the "situation" or "task" you faced, the "approach" you took to fix it, and the "results" of the process.
7. Talk about a time you dealt with a difficult customer.
This is another variation of the behavioral interviewing technique, aimed at gauging how you’ll handle similar situations in the future. Once again, use the “STAR” technique to lay out a situation, the approach you took and the results – focusing, of course, on the positive outcome and not so much on the difficult customer. And whatever you do, don’t ever bad-mouth the customer.
8. Describe some of your favorite marketing campaigns.
This can be a tricky one since you don’t want to herald campaigns done by the company’s competition, but at the same time, you want to show that you’re capable of targeting a specific demographic or type of product. Whatever campaigns come to mind, talk about them with an objective point of view and don’t get too passionate about others’ work – while at the same time trying to convey the interest that can show you’re committed to your career as a brand manager.
9. Talk about your most successful brand management job.
Once again, rely on the “STAR” technique to lay out the situation or task you had to complete in a past job, the actions you took, and the eventual results. To give the employer the sense that you were thorough in your approach, include details about the brand’s target audience, the industry or market, and the selling propositions you used.
10. If you could choose any brand to manage, what would it be?
Naturally, the employer is going to want to hear about the brands, but also about why you’d choose them. With this question, the employer might be trying to gauge what you value in your career. If you choose a brand because you know they have a big budget and their brand managers get to travel all over the world, it can show that you too desire a job with lots of business travel. If you choose a brand that’s been on the market for decades and has a long-established reputation, it demonstrates a different type of character. Think carefully about this one, and choose a brand that could even serve to characterize who you are and what you value most.
Job interviews are not easy, and lots of preparation goes into them. But by practicing your responses ahead of time, you’ll ensure that the interview goes as smoothly as possible.