09/13/2013 06:52 pm ET Updated Nov 12, 2013

Marketing Interview Mistakes

When I became the interviewer, I honed my skills to identify the best candidate for any given marketing position. I gained a much better perspective on what you should and should not do in a marketing interview. While I've made plenty of mistakes as the candidate in a marketing interview, I've learned a lot by interviewing others for a marketing position.

A marketing interview is not the same as an interview in another discipline. Marketing folks can spot other people who would make great marketers. (It's like 'gaydar' but for marketing. Shall we call it 'mardar'?) My dirty little secret is that I look for the unteachable characteristics. For example, I can teach someone what a marketing strategy is but I can not teach them to have passion for it. If you're going on a marketing interview, don't repeat these mistakes which make me think you're unteachable:

  • Don't be lackadaisical. I didn't hire a guy for a marketing position because he was too subdued. He was qualified. He was nice. But he showed little animation and less excitement. Marketing is about inspiring others. I can't teach you to be inspired.
  • Don't be too plain. I interviewed a smart, brilliant young woman for a marketing position who seemed a little quiet and shy. When she met the rest of my team, her brilliance was lost by her lack of pizzazz and wow. Marketing is about being noticed. If you're not able to stand out, I can't teach you how.
  • Don't be defensive. Something was off even though this marketing candidate had the right answers and was personable. He was a stitch too eager, too interested and too desperate. I wanted to be candid and let him know what my perception was. His response? He exploded on the phone. Appreciate feedback - even if you don't want to hear it. I can't teach you how to take criticism and grow.
  • Don't be too nervous. I heard glowing reviews about this marketing candidate from HR who did the initial screening. When she came in, the nerves won out. She was fidgety and wasn't able to clearly answer a question. When I asked my team and peers what they thought, she received more glowing reviews. As the hiring manager, I couldn't understand how I could have such a different experience with the same person. My advice: when the pressure is on, you must find a way to remain calm. I used to blare music in the car to drown out the nerves and then it was deep breaths prior in the lobby. Now I train for calmness by exercising, meditating and doing yoga. Over time you can master your nerves. But at the work place I can't teach you to compose yourself.
  • Don't be too loud. "My ears are ringing." That was the thought that after another candidate for a marketing position finished her interview. We were in a small 10' x 10' room and I'm certain her responses were heard by the entire office. Check your volume and make sure its appropriate for the room. I can, but I won't teach you social etiquette.

For more marketing mistakes (including embarrassing ones I've made) follow me on twitter or sign up for email notifications on my blog, Please share this with candidates seeking a marketing position. Or add to my list in the comment section. What marketing interview mistakes have you seen?