Interview Tips

Common tips for interviewing in all three fields gathered from Northwestern alumni and employers working in the advertising, marketing and PR.

  1. Find those things about yourself that are really different. Bring out those parts of yourself that make you special. (i.e., manufacturing background, language skills, travel..). Employers are looking for creative and innovative candidates.
  2. Really being able to listen to people across generations is important. You need to be able to understand each other and hear what the other person is saying.
  3. Make sure to convey your passion about the industry and desire to work for the company.
  4. When looking for jobs and internships highlight courses you have taken that are related to the industry. If you haven't had much experience this gives you a chance to talk about specific projects you’ve completed in those courses during an interview.  
  5. If you have relevant experience be sure to speak about specific projects you have taken ownership of and executed from start to finish as well as highlighting the results.

Interview Attire

In most industries, unless you hear otherwise from a recruiter, it should be assumed that business professional dress is expected in an interview. However, in advertising, marketing, and public relations interview attire may be more flexible and will vary by the agency or company.  A good rule of thumb is to choose attire that is formal yet stylish.  For women, good choices may be slacks, a pencil skirt, a tailored blazer, or a tailored dress.  Add pop to a suit with a colorful blouse or piece of statement jewelry.  For men, consider a suit without a tie or a nice shirt and slacks.

Interviewing tips for the Advertising field:

  1. The interview is a chance for you to tell your story so make it interesting.
  2. Make sure you have done your research! Know the agency, their accounts, their competitors and why you want to work for them.
  3. Be able to talk about a recent ad you like/dislike and why you like/dislike the ad.
  4. Discuss a recent ad and what you would do differently or ideas you have to make it better.
  5. What trends are current in advertising and what resources do you use to follow trends (Ad Age, Ad Week, Mashable, All things digital, etc..)

Advertising Interview Questions:

  1. You have a _____ background. Why don’t you want to go into ______? Why advertising/marketing/media?
  2. What is your favorite ad? Why do you like it? Give tangible examples of how it comes to life for you.
  3. What is an ad you dislike? What would you suggest to improve it?
  4. Tell me about a product you like and why?
  5. Communications skills are important. Tell me about your listening skills?
  6. What do you think is essential to be a good communicator?
  7. Give me an example of a time when you had to think out of the box.
  8. What do you know about the Advertising industry?
  9. What is the difference between Marketing and Advertising?
  10. What makes you think you'd be a good fit for the agency?
  11. Who are our competitors?
  12. Describe a current trend(s) in the industry this year? What do you see happening a year from now?

Interviewing tips for the Marketing field:

  1. With the advent of digital and social influence, its critical to show some experience in understanding how digital and social media works. Actually demonstrate some implication and action from a marketing perspective.  
  2. Marketing as a discipline - or how brands are actually built today - is in flux, and digital experience, analytics and creativity are all key drivers of business... so experience in those three key pillars will always be beneficial. 
  3. Entrepreneurial abilities is a big plus. It’s not just big company or well known brand experience that counts. Do something entrepreneurial or get any experience that will help show this skill. Self-starting ability experience can be a tipping point.
  4. Demonstrate how you are relevant to the job (as much as one can coming out of  school). How can you help the employer?
  5. Customer service experience (including the ability to communication effectively with a variety of people, good listening skills, able to persuade others of your point of view).
  6. Discuss a brand you like and why you like it. Be able to talk about the brands “touch points?”

Marketing Interview Questions:

  1. Tell me about a strategic marketing plan that you developed and the result of its implementation.
  2. What research was necessary before developing the plan?
  3. Who was involved? What changes did the plan make in the way your organization does business?
  4. Tell me about a recent marketing questionnaire that you developed. What was its purpose? What did you learn?
  5. What is your experience with focus groups?
  6. What other marketing research tools have you used?
  7. Tell me about one of our target customers or their product?
  8. Describe a time when you sold a product or service? Please also explain what you  enjoy about selling.
  9. What Brand(s) do you like?
  10. What are the touch points of the brand?
  11. What is out there right now? Who is doing a good job of marketing now? What do you like?
  12. What is your brand? What is different about you?

Interviewing tips for the PR field:

  1. Make sure to speak about any of the following in an interview.
    1. Newsroom/journalism experience
    2. Social media management
    3. Media relations experience on a local, national or international scale
    4. Any experience assisting with a traditional or digital PR campaign
    5. Photography, design and video capabilities are always a plus.
  2. Talk about any newsroom or journalism experience; hiring managers like to know that you can write and write well, especially if you can write in a way that appeals to journalists.
  3. Make sure to talk about any type of pitch(s) you’ve made to media and publications where you have secured placements
  4. Mention metrics during your interview (e.g. Grew Twitter followers for Dove's Men campaign by 10% in one week.)
  5. Be able to talk about what news media do you follow on a weekly basis and a current story in eth media from the past week.
  6. You may be given a writing test, asked to write a sample press release or given a case example to work on.

Public Relations Interview Questions:

  1. Tell me about a recent experience that demonstrates your commitment to public relations.
  2. What are the most important factors for good public relations?
  3. Relate a situation in which the issue of public relations was not given the consideration that it deserved. What was the impact? What did you learn from the situation?
  4. What are some things you really enjoy about public relations?
  5. What is the most exciting trend in PR today?
  6. Being a good communicator is important. Tell me about your listening skills.
  7. Tell me about a recent experience that demonstrates your attention to detail.
  8. From your experience, what are the most important factors for good public relations?
  9. Describe a time when you came up with an original idea that was implemented.
  10. Writing is important in this job. What have you written that is not a homework assignment?
  11. What news media do you follow on a daily or weekly basis?
  12. Give an example when you had to work with a budget. Did you over or under spend?
  13. Give example of current story in the news.

Media Planner Interview Questions

  1. What media do you consume? (Pandora, Social Media, T.V., Internet, etc…)
  2. This is important to understanding where to place the brand. You need to understand human behavior and find the place where people use media. Planners must be insight drivers and insight led. (understand your demographic).
  3. Give an example of a brand you like, where are they currently and what are they  trying to accomplish?
  4. Give an example of how you navigate different personalities (team project or meeting). What someone wants and how you work with them? (Personality aspect of the job)
  5. Please describe your media strategy (plan) working with our client (name of client). What are the steps you would take? Walk us through your plan.
  6. What skills do you use as a leader?