Interviewing for a Strategic Role

Episode 61: Interviewing For A Strategic Role

Whether moving into a strategic role, or to the next role as a strategist, you will have to navigate a number of interviews. In any given month, I am lucky enough to interview a lot of people for a wide variety of roles within our organization. I always look for the same traits and am consistently baffled when people don’t exhibit them. What do you need to know, to prepare, and to articulate in order to ace the interview?

Remember that a strategic role is a senior role. In other words, you have to be to speak the language of a senior digital professional. Too often, people focus on highly tactical and technical aspects of digital marketing. Yes, it is important to understand these things as a digital strategist, but you are interviewing for a position that needs you to be able to translate these functions into business solutions. How do senior people communicate?

  • They focus on objectives – Ensure that your communications are focused on how you will help them achieve their objectives. First, probe on what those objectives are. Then explain how your work will help achieve those objectives. Finally, illustrate your response with stories of how you have delivered results against similar objectives in the past. If you have not done that previously, then at least explain how your work has contributed to business outcomes and how you would look to build on that with transferable skills.
  • They don’t have a lot of time – Get to the point. If you are asked a direct question, give a direct answer. Don’t hedge, don’t waffle, don’t reach. If you don’t know the answer, say that but offer to follow up with the answer. I would much prefer that someone did that than try to give a poor and uninformed answer.
  • They prepare – Do your research on the person interviewing you. Find out their interests. There is a wealth of information available online. Check out LinkedIn an Twitter profiles. Find out what their professional interests are and be sure to reference them. In referencing them, don’t do so in a superficial way. If they have written or referenced a book, then go read it. Then discuss it and talk about how it applies to the work at hand. This is how you build a fast and meaningful connection with your interviewer.
  • They are direct – At the end of your interview, if you want the job, make sure you ask for it clearly. This is not a time for false modesty, or shyness. This is your opportunity to clearly make your pitch and express your excitement for the role. People don’t like offering senior roles to applicants that appear lukewarm about the opportunity,
  • They ask questions – A lack of questions demonstrates either an incurious mind or a lack of seriousness about the role. Prepare your questions carefully. In particular, focus your questions on making sure your prospective employer has thought through what you will need in terms of authority and resources to achieve objectives and ask questions about these things. Doing so demonstrates that you understand the role as well as what you need to be successful.
  • They follow up – Without exception, always send a thank you note. Think about the topics covered in the interview and send a thoughtful note that references them, perhaps with links to showcase previous work or third party examples that reinforce the points that were made during your conversation.

In doing all this, make sure you demonstrate the attributes that are necessary for success as a strategist. Show that you are open minded, positive, confident and calm. Avoid coming off as arrogant. For heaven’s sake, don’t talk over the interviewer.

Finally, find ways to let your work speak on your behalf. We have discussed many times the importance of having a sophisticated digital footprint. This is more important when you are interviewing than at any other time. But it takes time to build. So start early. Invest the time and effort in building your personal digital brand. Because when the time comes, it is the best thing you can have to help you ace the interview for a strategic role.

Next week on octopus, we will continue to explore the role of the digital strategist. Please be sure to comment below. I’d love to hear from you. Please subscribe for alerts about new episodes and content. Thank you for listening to octopus. I’m Nasser Sahlool.

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