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Marketing Careers Marketing Terms Marketing Links Job Search Strategies Interview Tips


Marketing Careers


Brand Management Under this system of organization, each brand or product within a company is operated as a separate business, with each standing on its own merits among its competition. This brand independence enables the company to market vigorously a number of different products--some competitive with others in the same company.

Except for top corporate management, members of the brand group are the only ones in a company who deal with all aspects of the company's business. Brand managers plan, develop, and direct the marketing efforts for a particular brand or product. They are generalists who coordinate the activities of specialists in production, sales, advertising, promotion, R&D, marketing research, purchasing, distribution, package development, and finance.

In brand/product management, individuals can expect early responsibility which should enable them to learn quickly and to demonstrate ability by contributing from the very outset to the operation of the brand(s) to which they are assigned.

Virtually all consumer goods companies use this system of organization. A number of industrial goods companies also have brand/product management. In consumer goods companies, in particular, brand management is considered the best training ground for top corporate officers.

Successful brand managers are results oriented and creative; possess strong interpersonal, communication, and analytical skills; and have entrepreneurial leanings.

Brand management requires a broad background in marketing's functional core: advertising, research, consumer behavior, and strategy. In addition, analytical skills are extremely important and students are encouraged to prepare by taking accounting and finance courses.

Market Research Individuals employed in the field of marketing research are involved with providing management with information needed for decision making. Information about consumers, the marketing environment, and the competition are needed to operate effectively in the marketplace today. The marketing researcher may be involved with the decision maker in formulating the problem and identifying the information required by the decision maker for resolving the problem. He/she will generally be involved with designing the research project, including the data collection method(s) to be used and the sample to be taken. Additionally, the market researcher will be concerned with data tabulation, analysis, report preparation, and presentation of findings to management.

Career opportunities exist within a variety of institutions, manufacturers, retailers, some wholesalers, trade and industry associations, and governmental and other public agencies.

Strong analytical, methodological, and communications skills are important.

Product Development One of the major problems facing modern managers is the question of how to plan and implement new products and services. Millions of dollars are spent annually by large and small organizations to launch new products and services. Many of these fail due to poor planning. Persons who specialize in new product planning can find opportunities in the marketing of consumer products, consumer services, hospital and medical services, and public service programs. Persons involved in new product planning develop skills in understanding marketing research, sales forecasting, and promotional planning.

Career opportunities exist in the consumer industries, advertising agencies, consulting firms, public agencies, medical agencies, retailing management, and many more. This broad set of industries offers a very promising career potential for the marketing planner.

Formal positions in product planning are becoming plentiful. Historically, such positions carry titles such as "assistant manager/director" of product planning or new product development. Large firms have such positions in staff departments. The MBA, though not a requirement everywhere, does appear to be the level sought for these positions. Undergraduates are usually hired as "new product assistants."

New product work demands a unique combination of creative and analytical talents. A "product planner" must be able to conceptualize new ideas, research the new ideas, and evaluate them objectively for a market and financial standpoint.

Unlike managing an existing business, new product development is ever changing and requires a person with a high degree of tolerance for uncertainty. Since products eventually succeed or fail, the planner has a definite "report card" to let one assess one's own performance. The uncertainty and pressures of new product work are compensated by the fun of giving birth to new entrants to the market.

Anyone desiring this career path should take course work in product planning, marketing research, consumer behavior and advertising. Courses in capital budgeting, entrepreneurship, and sales forecasting would likewise be valuable.

International Marketing Special opportunities in international marketing arise because of the wide variety of social, economic, and political conditions confronting international marketing personnel as well as the increased responsibility which decentralized decision making and greater distances from head-quarters generally bring. Planning and managerial positions abroad usually go to people who have had some international marketing experience at headquarters. Starting jobs in international marketing at headquarters vary widely, but for a person with a master's degree, it usually involves research, planning or coordinating activities.
Service Marketing The economy's service sector now exceeds the manufacturing sector in terms of relative contribution to the GDP. In addition, the service sector is there much of the economy's most vigorous growth is occurring. As a consequence, numerous marketing positions are available in banking and financial service institutions, health care organizations, leisure oriented businesses, and in various other service settings.

Service sector career paths in many cases parallel those found in traditional packaged goods brand management. For example, the individual who manages the marketing of a bank's "NOW" account services is a generalist who coordinates the activities of specialists in sales management, advertising, promotion, and market research. These are high visibility opportunities that offer the possibilities of advancement to top level marketing positions.

Entry level positions are increasingly available to those with undergraduate business degrees, as well as those with MBAs. Positions are analogous to those of the traditional packaged goods assistant brand manager. Other positions may be available in sales capacities, or in a large service firm's market research department. The latter would typically be available only to those with advanced degrees.

Individuals seeking service management positions should be strongly motivated, tenacious, and posses a healthy competitiveness. They should also have strong analytical and communications skills. Leadership ability is important because of the need to coordinate the diverse activities of many marketing specialists. Because of the intangible (relative to packaged goods) nature of most service sector products, individuals should feel thoroughly comfortable dealing with product attributes and issues that are harder to observe and classify.

Business-to-Business Marketing Industrial marketing involves the planning, sale, and service of products used for commercial or business purposes. These products may be simple, familiar products like office supplies or complex products such as computer systems, machine tools and commercial aircraft. Industrial products for purposes of study are usually categorized into supplies, capital equipment, installations, raw materials, and component parts.

Some industrial products are purchased on a new or one-time purchase basis, but most are purchased on a modified or straight re-buy basis from one of several acceptable suppliers. This is done to get an assured source of supply at the most favorable prices the competitive process offers.

Industrial marketing requires the ability to understand the customers requirements, and to propose the purchase of the product that best fits the customer's needs. In this type of endeavor, the marketing person often acts somewhat like a consultant to the buyers in order to assist them in determining the most suitable products for their needs. The successful industrial marketing person is self-reliant and able to present the product line to the customer in the most favorable light.

Most industrial marketing activities involve a continuing relationship between supplier and customer. In this circumstance, the selling relationship is not really selling as it is commonly thought of, but one of maintaining and enhancing an on-going business relationship. This means that the industrial marketing person must be able to help serve the needs of a wide variety of industrial and commercial customers on a continuing basis. The requirements for a successful career in industrial marketing are that a person be energetic, self-motivated, and interested in the products and customers who buy the products. Thus, good basic work habits, the ability to acquire product and industry knowledge, and human relations skills are important.

Internet Marketing The most recent channel for direct marketing to reach customers.  E-commerce and online advertising are thus far the biggest moneymakers on the Web, though both niches are constantly evolving. When e-commerce first arrived on the scene, people thought that e-malls, which like regular malls would provide a wide variety of products, were the way to go. But by 1997, the online retail market was saturated.
  • Net marketing is using tools like e-mail to help market your product
  • Web marketing involves developing a Web presence to help market your product

Managers in this area must consider how the Internet can be used across a range of functions, including advertising; brand creation, extension, and growth; customer service; internal and external communications; market creation and expansion; market research; and channel design.


High Tech Marketing
As the high-tech industry booms, jobs proliferate. The U.S. Commerce Department has conducted studies that reveal that between 1996 and 2006, the industry will employ over 1.3 million new systems analysts, engineers, programmers, and computer scientists in the United States. That doesn't begin to cover the legions of content providers, marketers and new media industry analysts the booming high-tech industry will require. Here are some top jobs in high tech.

To succeed in such a fickle industry, firms must constantly search for new applications for their products and create new ones to sell. That means that the duties of marketers are more essential than ever. At some companies, marketers in the field (often called product managers) identify product openings and work with engineers in research and development to produce what consumers say they want. You don't necessarily need a technical background to work as a marketer for a technology firm, but it's useful.

Causal (Social) Marketing Causal marketing is the selling of ideas. In more complicated terms, it's the creation, execution and control of programs designed to influence social change. It uses many principles of commercial marketing - from assessing needs to identifying audiences, developing products and measuring results. But it's also quite different. The goal of social marketing is not just a one time business transaction. The goal of social marketing is to build a long-term relationship between your organization and its different audiences. The success of the 'blue box' recycling program in Ontario shows how a well-planned social marketing campaign can influence the way society thinks and acts.

There are two keys to social marketing for organizations:

  • first, understanding the attitudes of the society in which an organization exists.
  • second, tackling a social marketing campaign in an orderly, step-by-step, manner.

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Marketing Terms


Advertising 5 M's The 5 major decisions in developing an advertising program - Mission, Money, Message, Media, and Measurement.   These are identified after a marketing manager has identified the target market and buyer motives.


Brand Attempt to differentiate a product or service by establishing a relationship between the consumer and the brand.


Brand Equity The value of the brand - creating measurable value for a brand name, often referred to as superbrands or power brands; also includes the measures of such value which includes rankings of most valuable brands, Return on Investment (ROI) for advertising spending or Brand awareness.


Brand Genericide Category leaders become complacent and the relationship between the brand and consumer is weakened allowing private labels and generics to enter the market.  To counter this, brand equity must be reestablished.


Bundling Sellers often bundle their products at a set price that is generally less of a cost than if purchased individually.


Campaign Effectiveness The results of a campaign in terms of increased sales, increase in market share or change in level of awareness; also includes assessment of the reasons for the campaign success or failure.


Category Management Manufacturers compete with each other to help retailers manage their categories in the stores in order to maximize variety and profits.  For each category, there is a portfolio of brands that offers consumers products at prices they want to pay.


Character Symbol Historical figures, animated characters, animals, objects that are used to advertise a brand and that come to be associated with the brand, e.g. Joe Camel for Camel cigarettes, Charlie Chaplin (played by an actor) in IBM ads.


Cobranding A partnership between two major brands that results in a joint new product. For example: Kellogg’s "Healthy Choice" cereal, American Airlines Visa card.


Conjoint Analysis A popular research method for deriving the utility values that consumers attach to varying levels of a product's attributes.  Management can use the results to determine the most appealing offer and estimated market share and profit the company might realize.


Consumer Adoption Process Used by managers to build a effective strategy for market penetration.  The stages of the process are: Awareness, Interest, Evaluation, Trial, Adoption.   Consumer movement through each of these phases should be managed.


Consumer Behavior Research that focuses on psychographics, e.g. the criteria for segmenting consumers by life-style, attitudes, beliefs, values, personality, and buying motives.


Cooptation An effort by one organization to win the support of the leaders of another organization by including them in advisory councils, boards of directors, and the like.  This is common among firms that have complimentary products.  It is also common to reduce conflict among channel members.


Cooperative Campaign Collaboration of two or more advertisers and advertising in which the manufacturer of a product provides materials to and reimburses a retailer for part or all of the retailer's advertising expenditures.


Demarketing A marketing task that requires finding ways to reduce the demand temporarily or permanently, because the demand level is higher than an organization can or wants to handle.  Demarketing seeks discourage overall demand and consists of such steps as raising prices and reducing promotion and services.  Some organization may choose to do selective demarketing by reducing the demand of the less profitable areas of the market.


Direct Mail Advertising that uses person-to-person communication through the mail rather than mass media. Advertising is sent via fliers, letters, brochures or reprints.


Direct Marketing An interactive marketing system that uses one or more advertising media to effect a measurable response and/or transaction at any location.
Disintermediation The removal of intermediaries between manufacturers and consumers.


Dumping A company either charges less than its costs or less than it charges in its home market in order to enter or win a market.   The US Customs Bureau can levy a dumping tariff on the guilty company.


EDLP Every Day Low Pricing.   Eliminates coupons. 


FSI Free Standing Inserts.   Example - coupons provided in the Sunday paper.  These are expensive for the manufacturer and not as effective as first believed.  Consumers have mostly been "trained" to use these coupons.


Gross Rating Point (GRP) Sum of all rating points over a specific time period or over the course of a media plan.  Each rating point is equal to 1%.  GRP is used in designing a media schedule in an attempt to deliver a maximum number of GRPs at minimum cost.  The GRPs are calculated by multiplying the total reach (unduplicated audience) by the frequency (average amount of exposure) of the medium in the proposed schedule.


Growth Share Matrix A matrix developed and popularized by The Boston Consulting Group.  It is divided into 4 cells, each indicating a different type of business:  Question marks (high growth market, low relative market share), Stars (high growth market, high relative market share), Cash cows (low growth market, high relative market share), Dogs (low growth market, low relative market share).  A company uses the matrix to determine whether its portfolio is healthy.  An unbalanced portfolio has too many dogs or question marks and/or too few cast cows and stars.


Harvesting Gradually reducing a product or business's costs while trying to maintain its sales. 


Interactive Advertising through various "new media" technology such as CD- ROM-based electronic kiosks, online services (including Internet, AOL).


Latent Demand The demand by consumers for a strong need that cannot be satisfied by any existing product.  The marketing task is to measure the size of the potential market and develop effective goods and services that would satisfy the demand.


Line Extensions Adding another variation to a product line, also can include brand extension, when an established brand name is used in a new product category; for example - Jell-O pudding pops.


Loyalty Includes programs for increasing customer loyalty including frequent flyer programs, frequent shoppers, etc.; also includes general discussions of consumer brand loyalty and how to increase it.


Marketing Mix (4 P's) The set of marketing tools that the firm uses to pursue its marketing objectives in the target market.   The 4 P's are Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.


Mass Customization The ability to prepare on a mass basis individually designed products and communications to meet each customer's requirements.


Media Buying-Service A company other than an ad agency that purchases media time and space. Often referred to as unbundling, since the creative function is separate from the media portion.


Niche A narrowly defined group, typically a small market whose needs are not being well served.  A niche is usually identified by dividing a segment of the market into subsegments or by defining a group with a distinctive set of traits.


Perceptual Map Two attributes of a products/services are placed on a map as they are perceived relative to competitors.   The map shows which brands are perceived as being similar and compete against each other.  One of the most important pieces of information conveyed by the map is it identifies how every brand is perceived on each attribute.  Product maps only require rating data where consumers evaluate products/services on specific attributes.


Placement Marketing of a product by its appearance or use in a movie or television show.


Point-of-Purchase Advertising that targets shoppers within the retail environment. Often aimed at impulse purchases. POP includes counter displays, window displays, store banners, aisle displays, etc.


Positioning- Repositioning Promoting a product to an unexpected audience; makeover or re-stating of a product to attract a new audience. e.g. Positioning orange juice as a soft drink to be used anytime, as opposed to a breakfast drink.


Product Mix A set of all products and items that a particular seller offers for sale to buyers.


Push vs. Pull Strategy Push strategy - involves manufacturer marketing activities (primarily sales force and trade promotions) directed at channel intermediaries.

Pull strategy- involves marketing activities (primarily advertising and consumer promotions) directed at the end users. 


Specialization When a manufacturer wants the brand to be number 1 or 2 in the market - not number 3!  Anything but number 1 and 2 brands are often sold or discontinued; except for mature cash cows.  The key is to focus. 


Sales Promotion Activities, materials, and techniques used to supplement traditional advertising, includes trade advertising, and in-store media.


Sampling Products offered to consumers usually for free to introduce a new product.


Teaser Campaign Advertising intended to tease the public by offering only bits of information without revealing either the sponsor of the ad or the product being advertised. The purpose of a teaser ad is to arouse curiosity and generate attention for the campaign that follows.


Transit Advertising Outdoor advertising. Advertising on signs that are located outdoors in public places. Examples include billboards, posters, buses, taxis and painted displays


Umbrella Marketing Campaign that focuses on a family of brands, or a multi-product group. e.g. Panasonic ad showing VCR, TV, Videocam, etc.


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Marketing Links


Ad Critic

Ad Week Online

Advertising Age

The American Marketing Association

Brand Packaging

Business Week

Ecommerce Times

Ellett Group - High Tech Marketing


Fast Company


Guerrilla Marketing Online

Healthcare Marketing - The Kranz Connection

International Marketing Resources

The Marketing Resource Center

The National MBA Source

The New York Times

Social Marketing - Weinreich Communications

Strategic Healthcare Marketing

The Wall Street Journal Interactive


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Job Search Strategies

* From Knock 'Em Dead 1999, Martin Yate


Direct Research
Use reference books in the library (e.g. Job Bank, Standard & Poor's Register, Business-to-Business Yellow Pages, etc.). Take notes on relevant information about the company that you can refer to in an interview.  For online resources, check out:

American Business Information - http://www.abii.com. One of the largest brokers in the the nations.  Their lists cover over 10 million businesses.

American List Counsel - http://www.amlist.com. They maintain over 16,000 different lists.  You can search online or request a free catalog.



Use as a complement to direct research.  Direct research gives hard facts about a company, but the newspaper lists immediate openings for jobs.  Use newspaper ads to identify all companies that are currently hiring, not just to identify specific job openings.  Online resources are:

The New York Times - http://www.nytimes.com/classified/

Wall Street Journal - http://www.careers.wsj.com

National Business Employment Weekly - http://www.nbew.com



Public and Private Employment Agencies
These agencies include state employment agencies, private employment agencies and executive recruiters, and career counselors.  As an MBA the private agencies and executive recruiters would be used.   There are 3 types:  permanent employment agencies where you pay the fee, permanent agencies where the employer pays the fee, and contingency and retained search firms.  Be sure to understand which type you choose. Select only 2 or 3 in your field.  Do not mass mail your resume to every agent in town.  This can lead to multiple submissions of your resume to a single company. One resource is the Directory of Executive Recruiters, Kennedy Publications.



Your References as a Resource
Identify as many possible personal references as possible at the beginning of the job search.  The more options you have, the better your chances at success.  Use these contacts as job search leads.  Call or write the person briefly explaining your background and what you are searching for.  Ask these people for advice.  Ask to meet for a cup of coffee or lunch to discuss the type of opportunity for which you are looking.



College Placement Offices and Alumni Associations
Just remember that the Career Placement Center should not be your only resource and will not just hand you a job.  It can help you accelerate your job search process and aid you in finding your own job.  Don't wait until the last minute to get to know the folks in the placement office - start early getting guidance and listening to their advice.  Take advantage of on campus company receptions and interviews, as well as interview and resume workshops that are offered. 

Also, take advantage of the alumni directory.  Most alumni are more than willing to assist you by providing advice and additional contacts. 



Professional Associations
Examples of these associations are The American Marketing Association, The American Retail Federation, etc.   Join these organizations to show your commitment to the profession and expand your knowledge in a given field.  Use the membership directory for direct contacts and attend regularly scheduled meetings to network with other professional members.   Also, read the newsletters that the associations publish for other inside tips and information.



Job Fairs
Look for announcements of these fairs in the newspaper and on the radio.  When you attend, go prepared.  Take: business cards, resumes, a notepad and pen in a folder.  Visit every booth for companies in which you are interested even if they are not hiring for the position you would like (ask for contact names in your field).  Definitely talk to someone at each booth asking questions about the company and what they do before talking about yourself.  Be sure to collect business cards from everyone you speak with so that you can follow up with a letter if you want.  For most companies a job fair is a way to collect resumes.  They do not hire at the fair very often, but there are times when employers will want to interview on the spot, so be prepared.  Also, gather company brochures and materials.  When you attend the fair dress for business - first impressions are important.  Finally, arrange times and dates to follow up with each employer. 



Trade and Business Magazines
This includes professional association periodicals, trade magazines, and the general business press.   Contact the individuals and companies mentioned and using the article to begin discussion.  These publications provide focused articles about interesting companies, industry overviews and market developments, quotations, articles by industry professionals, help-wanted sections, and advertisements for new products that can tell you about the company's direction.  You may want to keep a binder of pertinent articles that you can reference. 



Use others to assist in your job search.  Networking requires nurturing and development.   These networks can be: friends and relatives, coworkers, managers (past and present), service industry acquaintances (banker, doctor, dentist, lawyer, etc.), other job hunters, and other professionals in your field.  Some tips for writing networking letters or making calls to ask for assistance:
  • establish connectivity by mentioning the last time you spoke or met
  • tell why you are writing or calling
  • ask for advice and guidance about your tactics, what the happening companies are, and whether the person can take a look at your resume (for an objective opinion) - don't ask if their company can hire you
  • don't rely on a specific contact to get you in a certain company
  • let the contacts know what you are open for
  • discuss the profession, industry, areas of opportunity, and the people worthwhile to contact.
  • at the end of the call, make sure the contact knows how to get in touch with you
  • say thank you when you do get help - follow it up in writing
  • keep an open mind - you never know who your friends are
  • whether your contacts help you or not, let them know when you do get a job and keep in touch at least once a year


The Electronic Job Hunt
Tap into the huge reservoirs of online data before launching a search or going to an interview.  Use the web to look up companies and research their products, job openings, mission, analyst reports, press releases, and annual reports. 

Use online job search resources such as:

The Monster Board - http://monsterboard.com

Career Mosaic - http://careermosaic.com

Hot Jobs - http://hotjobs.com

Career Path - http://careerpath.com

Career Web - http://careerweb.com

Vault Report, Inc. - http://vaultreports.com

Wetfeet - http://wetfeet.com


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Interview Tips

Informational Interviews

Informational interviews are ideal for making contacts and getting the inside story.  Although you're still on display, these aren't the same as interviewing for a position. Informational interviews are either to obtain information or referrals. They can be used to get the buzz on industries and companies and find out how comfortable you feel in certain environments--in short, almost anything you wish to pursue.  Though the purpose may be different, follow the same advice as for application interviews. Dress appropriately, find out as much as you can about the company or individual, know what you're going to ask, be open to questions, and send a thank-you letter.

There are six main goals of informational interviews:

  1. Establish rapport with the interviewers. Get to know them.
  2. Let them know who you are. Be genuine and interested.
  3. Get advice on your job-search, particularly on improving both your approach and your presentation.
  4. Find out about your job market. Ask about latest developments, publications to read, or professional groups you should investigate.
  5. Get referrals. If you haven't received names by an interview's end, it's appropriate to ask for other people with whom you might talk.
  6. Be remembered favorably. Before leaving, tell an interviewer that you would appreciate being kept in mind in case s/he hears of anything.

Behavioral Interviews

Behavior based interviewing focuses on experiences, behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities that are job related. It is based on the belief that past behavior and performance predicts future behavior and performance. You may use work experience, activities, hobbies, volunteer work, school projects, family life - anything really - as examples of your past behavior. Current employment literature indicates that there is a strong trend towards this type of interviewing. In addition to questions found in many current resources, you should also consider the following in your interview preparations.

Employers are looking for 3 types of skills: Content Skills, Functional - also called Transferable Skills, and Adaptive - also called Self Management Skills.

Content Skills -- Knowledge that is work specific such as computer programming, accounting, welding, etc. expressed as nouns.

Functional or Transferable Skills -- Used with people, information or things such as organizing, managing, developing, communicating, etc. expressed as verbs.

Adaptive or Self-Management Skills -- personal characteristics such as dependable, team player, self directed, punctual, etc. expressed as adjectives.

There are 3 types of questions typically found in interviews:

  • Theoretical questions -- Questions that place you in a hypothetical situation. These questions are more likely to test your skill at answering questions rather than in doing a good job.

      Example: How would you organize your friends to help you move into a new apartment?

  • Leading questions -- Questions that hint at the answer the interviewer is seeking by the way they are phrased.

      Example: Working on your own doesnšt bother you does it?

  • Behavioral questions -- Questions that seek demonstrated examples of behavior from your past experience and concentrate on job related functions. They may include:

    Open-ended questions -- these require more than a yes of no response. They often begin with "Tell me...", "Describe...", "When...".
    Example: Describe a time you had to be flexible in planning a work load.

    Close-ended questions -- Used mostly to verify or confirm information.
    Example: You are focusing in marketing, is that correct?

    Why questions -- Used to reveal rationale for decisions you have made or to determine your level of motivation.
    Example: Why did you decide to major in this program at Rice rather than at a larger university?

To best answer these types of questions, think of "PAR for the Course". A complete answer to a behavior-based question must explain the task or problem for which you were responsible, the specific action you took, and the results of your actions. Your answer must contain all of these components to be a PAR answer. Tell the interviewer a "story" (with a beginning, a middle, and an end) about how you used a practical skill.

Problem (P) - Advertising revenue was falling off for the Daily News and large numbers of long-term advertisers were not renewing contracts.
Action (A) - I designed a new promotional packet to go with the rate sheet and compared the benefits of DN circulation with other ad media in the area. I also set-up a special training session for the account executives with a professor who discussed competitive selling strategies.
Result (R) - We signed contracts with fifteen former advertisers for daily ads and five for special supplements. We increased our new advertisers by twenty percent (quantities are always good) over the same period last year.

To prepare for the behavioral interview:

  • Analyze the type of positions for which youšre applying. Try to get an actual job description. What skills are required by employers?

  • Analyze your own background. What skills do you have (content, functional, and adaptive) that relate to your job objective?

  • Identify examples from your past experience where you demonstrated those skills. How can you "tell a story" about your use of particular skills or knowledge? Concentrate on developing complete PAR answers and remember that a good story has a beginning, middle and end.

  • Wherever possible, quantify your results. Numbers illustrate your level of authority and responsibility.

  • Be prepared to provide examples of when results didnšt turn out as you planned. What did you do then?

  • Before starting the interview process, identify 2 to 3 of your top selling points and determine how you will convey these points (with demonstrated PAR stories) during the interview.

  • Once employed, keep a personal achievement diary to help document demonstrated performance (PAR stories).

Case Interviews

Over the past few years, corporate recruiters have begun to utilize a different form of interview question, i.e., the "Case Interview" question. This interview question format consists of a question and answer format wherein the interviewer presents a hypothetical business problem, either actual or made up and you have to develop a "process" for answering the question as clearly and with as much detail as possible. In many instances the actual answer is not obtainable. The gist of the "case interview’ question is to sample how logical and creative you can be in analyzing the question, developing a process for gathering the necessary information, extrapolating information from general knowledge and formulating an answer based on "all" the knowledge and resources you have at hand. (The process is as important as the answer).

A 5 step approach to case interview questions:

 Step 1 - Develop a frame or structure for the question. Use "Big Picture Thinking" Work from the General to the Specific, using what information you are given, what you already know and what additional information the interviewer might give you if asked.

Step 2 - Prioritize and identify the basic issues contained in the problem and use problem solving logic.

Step 3 - Narrow down your potential answers to the most logical, using the 80/20 Approach.

Step 4 - Analyze the problem from all perspectives, working from "Big Picture" information that suggests possible alternative methods you can use to derive the best possible answer (guess).

Step 5 - Draw conclusions from your analysis, demonstrate results based on information and logical conclusions.

Final tips for the case interviewee:

  • Don’t be thrown by the interviewer’s questions. Realize that there are numerous good answers. The interviewer is using the case approach to gain an understanding of your thought processes.
  • Be concise. If asked for the "top two" issues, confine your response to two items only. Avoid going into too much detail. The more explicit your thinking the better.
  • Provide logical back-up for your answers. Be sure to explain what case facts led you to a conclusion, and how you reasoned from those facts to your conclusion.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions. If you don’t understand the case facts, you will find it difficult to ace the interview.
  • Remember common sense goes a long way. Also, try and relax in the process.

 Examples of Case Interview Questions (*)

Moving the Hub  A major airline company is thinking about moving their hub city in the hopes of saving money. How would you approach this problem to analyze the cost-effectiveness of such a move?

Muddying the Waters  There is a client in the bottled-water industry. Their market is high in Southern California. Sales are increasing, but profits are decreasing. What information do you need to assess what is happening?

Super Batteries  A client has invented a new type of a battery that is compact and has a much longer life than normal batteries. It will only be about twice as expensive as ordinary batteries, but will last ten times as long. Where would the market be for super batteries? What are the broader implications for such a product?

Green Tires  A client approaches you at a party with an idea for selling green automobile tires. Without expertise in the auto or tire industries, how would you estimate the overall market for tires, the percentage of people who might be interested in green tires and the profitability of such an idea? What factors need to be considered in determining profitability?

Coffee Vending in San Francisco  A chain of gourmet coffee shops from the Northwest is considering expansion into the San Francisco area. They sell coffee, coffee beans, light snacks, and coffee-making equipment. This chain has been highly successful in the Northwest and has an extensive distribution system and well-known name there. What factors should they consider before opening in the San Francisco Bay Area? What would you expect major cost areas to be in the new location? How could you reduce those costs? How should the chain determine the locations of its Bay Area stores? What other factors are important for this client to consider?

Interview Follow Up

A thank-you letter is so basic that some employers will exclude you from the applicant pool if you don't send one. Be prompt and personal, incorporating elements from your interview.

There's usually room for negotiating a better offer, whether for salary or benefits. If you're willing to walk, you can be firm about your conditions. If you're not, be prepared to take no for an answer. Always get the offer in writing.

There's no way to remove all risks from a career decision, but you can increase your chances of making the right choice. Revisit your criteria for choosing a career or job, weigh the advantages against disadvantages, and consider the following factors:

  • Money: Does the job pay what I need now, or will I feel resentful? Does the field offer salary levels that will meet my future needs?
  • Security: Is the job year-round and full-time? How great is the turnover? What benefits does the job offer? Is the field expanding?
  • Mobility: Does the job allow for or require one to move from place to place or stay in one location?
  • Flexibility: Would the job let me keep my options open or does it require intense specialization? Does it permit independence?
  • Qualifications: Am I qualified for the work? Is on-the-job training offered to me help me qualify or prepare for future advancement?
  • Day-to-day Content: Will the work keep me interested? Are the other workers in the field the kind of people I won't mind spending time with?
  • Rewards: Does the job offer the kind of rewards I need, along the lines of status, helping others, seeing finished product, and using creativity?


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