You Ask, I Answer: How to Interview Marketing Interns?

Lily asks, “I will be interviewing summer interns for our marketing department this week and I feel stumped on engaging, productive questions to ask. My usual angle of focusing on past professional experience(s) may not really apply! Any go-to questions you recommend for these types of interviews?”

Fundamentally, what do you want to learn? Will this person work hard? Will this person be a cultural fit? Will this person be motivated to solve problems on their own? Does this person think creatively? Does this person have an aptitude that you might want to harness as an employee down the road? Even if someone doesn’t have long work experience, they have aptitudes you can look for.

You’ll focus a lot on behaviors. If you have front desk staff, use their help to monitor how the person behaves while waiting. How did they greet the staff?

You’ll also look at basic fit questions. Could you, for example, tolerate being stuck at an airport with this person?

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.

In today’s episode Lily asks, I will be interviewing summer interns for our marketing department this week, and I feel stumped on engaging on engaging, productive questions to ask.

My usual angle of focusing on past professional experiences may not really apply any go to questions you recommend for these types of interviews.

So interns, not terribly different than interviewing other employees, except that they have substantially less work experience.

That said, you still have to the same things right.

And you’re still dealing with human beings.

And so you have to make a list of the questions that you want answers to.

Will this person work hard? Will this person be a cultural fit for the company without reinforcing existing biases? Will this person be motivated to solve problems on their own? Does this person think creatively Does this person have an aptitude that if their internship works out, would you want them back? Right? Would you want them back as a full time employee? Even if someone doesn’t have a lot of work experience, these are things that you can look for.

So you got to focus on behaviors, but things like cultural fit and working hard.

Those are pretty straightforward.

You can ask someone tell me about a project that you worked on that didn’t go well.

Tell me about a project on a team that didn’t go well? How did you handle it? Tell me about the experience and listen to the answers.

Listen to the answers about how they use language.

How much responsibility do they accept for project a team project that didn’t go well? Right? If it’s entirely Oh, it’s everybody else’s small team.

I did my part and they didn’t.

I don’t know if that’s necessarily a kind of person you might want on your team.

On the other hand, if if they, you know, collapse, and and they’re like, it was all my fault.

I’m completely useless.

Not that I don’t think someone would say that job interview, but it is it is a nonzero possibility that that might be an outcome.

And that’s again, somebody that you might not feel comfortable having on your team culturally.

When it comes to things like thinking creatively, there are all sorts of interesting things you can do.

Simple one is just give them some prompts to solve because them some theoretical, you’re interested in marketing.

Great.

Are you studying it in school? Tell me about how you would solve a particular product marketing problem.

Here’s how would you make this product better? You can ask for attention to detail things things that every job candidate should logically do.

Hey, did you go to our website? Okay, great.

Tell me three things you liked about it.

Tell me three things you didn’t like about it.

You and you read in this case, you’re just asking for their opinions and How they answer those questions is just as important as what they answer them with.

Are they willing to be honest with you and say, Well, you know that I picture the dog on the run page.

I mean, I’m not a dog person, you know, that kind of response you’d want, you’d want to be able to see, can they give you honest opinions? One of the challenges of hiring people is that you don’t really get to know the person until you at least 90 days in because in a lot of cases, people don’t it takes people a while to be comfortable.

And so you may actually feel comfortable with the person by the time their internship ends.

So again, these are things you want to ask for upfront, to the extent that you can focus a lot on behaviors.

If you have, for example, front desk staff, chat with the staff afterwards, like hey, do you remember that person? How did they behave? How did they proceed? themselves, were they polite to you? You will obviously want to be very careful about somebody who is impolite to the front desk staff.

Right? That’s definitely not somebody that you want on your team.

How do they treat you? Ask yourself basic personal questions, again, being aware of your own biases.

But questions like mentally Is this a person that would feel okay with being stuck in an airport for like a six hour layover? Like, is this person like, Yeah, I don’t know that.

I would want to spend a whole lot of time with this person, again, being aware of your own biases and, and your own preferences.

Because one of the things that tends to happen in hiring is we tend to hire people like us.

And that’s not necessarily a good thing.

We actually want diverse perspectives and opinions.

Ask them how they handle interpersonal conflict.

Hey, when you get into a confrontation with a friend Friend, how do you productively resolve the confrontation? How do you deal with uncomfortable conversations? How do you deal with a lack of motivation? Everybody has those days when you’re like, I don’t want to get out of bed, right? Someone says I never have a problem is either very, very, very unusual person or they’re not telling you the truth because everybody has one of those days sometimes.

Ask them, how do you motivate yourself? What are the things that you are passionate about professionally? What are the things that you are interested in personally outside of work? Again, being aware of the boundaries of what’s acceptable to ask interview questions, because there are a whole slew of questions that are either inappropriate or flat out illegal to ask.

But you can ask all sorts of questions about your field to about marketing.

Who are some authors you read? Right was the last marketing book you read? And what did you take away from it? What marketing blogs? Do you read? Which marketing? People do follow on YouTube? Or what slack communities are you a part of? And if you get somebody who’s like, none of these things like okay, you know, for an intern, that’s not a deal breaker, it absolutely be a deal breaker for full time employee.

But it will help you find the, the gems in the rough, right, because somebody who is interested in marketing who is interested in the profession, who does read blogs and follow people on YouTube and stuff.

That’s somebody who’s already self motivated.

Right? As somebody who is a self learner.

And those are really good things to ask for.

And again, these are things that you need no job experience whatsoever to do.

In fact, the way many people teach their marketing courses I’ve guest lectured for a bunch of folks they encourage their students to ask to go out and, and subscribe to blogs and newsletters and things.

And so if you have somebody who isn’t doing that it’s like, Okay, did you? Are you here? Because you just need the job? Or you need the experience? Or is this something you’re actually interested in? And that’s really what you want to find out.

You want to find out? Are you here? Just a punch a clock? Are you genuinely interested in learning more about the profession of marketing, because again, an internship is not a lifelong commitment by any means.

And it is supposed to benefit the intern as much as the company through education.

So if you are interviewing people who are frankly uninterested in their education, they’re not going to be a very good intern, and they’re not going to be a very good marketer either.

So, identify that hunger for knowledge for learning how things work for learning the ropes for building skills, ask them Have you started or Have you completed your Google Analytics certification? Right simple things like that.

If they’ve never heard of it, then they might be somebody who’s not necessarily gotten the best education.

That should be an opportunity to dig further.

And if that person’s interested, then say, yeah, you know, while you’re here, maybe you should do that.

Or you should take that examination.

And that that certification because it professional certification is never a bad thing.

So lots of things you can do that are not reliant on work experience.

I’ve got follow up questions, leave in the comments box below.

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