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Marketing Association of Columbia

    Interview Guide

    2005 - 2006

    Table of Contents

Industry Snapshot: Marketing (p. 2) ?

Focus: Career in Brand Management (p. 9) ?

Kraft: Brand Management Interviewing (p. 12) ?

Nabisco Marketing Interview Guide (p. 18) ?

Colgate Interview Skills Workshop (p. 28) ?

Other Interview Preparation Questions (p. 31) ?

    Marketing Association of Columbia Interview Guide 2005 2006

    ? Industry Snapshot: Marketing


    Broadly speaking, marketing is the intermediary function between product development and sales. In a nutshell, it's the marketer's job to ensure that consumers look beyond price and functionality when they're weighing consumption options.

    Marketers create, manage, and enhance brands. (A brand can be thought of as the way consumers perceive a particular company or its products and how a company reinforces or enhances those perceptions through its overall communicationsits logo, advertising, packaging, and so on.)

    Marketers want the consumer to ask: "Which brand helps me look and feel my best? Which brand can I trust?" Their goal is to make the brand they represent the obvious and uncontested answer to those questions in the consumer's mind. In marketing terms, this is called owning share of mind.

    Of course, a brand can't be all things to all people. A key part of a marketer's job is to understand the needs, preferences, and constraints that define the target group of consumers (who may be from the same geographic region, income level, age range, lifestyle, or interest group) or the market niche corresponding to the brand. How can a company aggressively expand its market share and keep customers satisfied? That question is central to everything a marketer does.

    A career in marketing covers an exciting range of job opportunities and industries, from traditional brand management with a major consumer products firm to marketing strategy development for a small, online start-up. You might pursue a career in marketing services as a corporate identity consultant, or as an account executive with an integrated communications firm. Or maybe you prefer a direct marketing career, working as a circulation manager for a major magazine or developing targeted marketing programs for a retail chain. Exploring your options is half the fun. In general, marketing careers tend to offer an attractive lifestyle in terms of hours worked and expected travel, relative to other typical MBA paths in finance and consulting. Work environments tend to be team-oriented and relatively casual in terms of dress code.


    Some companies define marketing positions broadly, encompassing everything from market research and strategy to advertising, promotions, and public relations. Other companies have large marketing departments, with marketers dedicated to one of these roles. And still other companies contract out many marketing functions to firms that specialize in advertising, public relations, and market research.

What follows are descriptions of some common marketing roles.

    Brand Management: Brand management is a key function in many industries, particularly consumer products but also including pharmaceuticals, financial services, and high technology. Traditionally considered the best training ground for people interested in long-term marketing careers, leading consumer-products companies are often compared to Ivy League colleges because of their rigorous

     Marketing Association of Columbia Page 2 of 33 Columbia Business School

    Marketing Association of Columbia Interview Guide 2005 2006

    admission standards and strong training programs. In the large, traditional companies, brand managers tend to move from brand to brand in order to develop experience working on large, small, new, or established brands.

    Brand managers assume responsibility for a brand or a category of products. They might be likened to small business owners, but that isn't an accurate comparison because they rarely need to get their hands dirty in day-to-day operations. Instead, they focus on the big picture: distilling the brand's essence, mapping out the competitive landscape in the brand's category, identifying market opportunities, and communicating (through a public relations agency or advertising firm) the unique benefits the product delivers to consumers. The job usually requires the brand/product manager to lead cross-functional teams from R&D, market research, promotions, sales, finance, operations, production, legal and compliance, etc. Although they usually don't undertake heavy-duty research themselves, brand managers guide market-research studies by setting the agenda and criteria and by choosing stimuli, such as product-benefit statements, pictures, product samples, and video clips. Once the research is complete, brand managers analyze the data that's been collected and develop a marketing strategya short-term business plan for the brand. The strategy may call for

    reestablishing or changing the 4P’s (price, promotion, product, place). This may include a new ad campaign or new products or it may outline a bold new vision for the brand. Brand managers then ensure that other functions (promotions, market research, research and development, and manufacturing) are working in concert to implement the strategy they've articulated.

    Advertising: An advertising agency is a marketing consultant. It helps the client with all aspects of its marketing effortseverything from strategy to concept to execution. On the business side of advertising (as opposed to the creative or production sides), most jobs fall into account management, account planning, and media. People in account management act as liaisons between the agency's various departments and the client. They manage the execution of ads by making sure ads are created within the allocated schedule and budget. Account planners focus on consumers, conducting research on the target demographic to get to know what motivates its behavior in the marketplace. In the media department, planners decide where to place ads, based on that demographic data, and buyers buy the ad space.

    Market Research: For a company to capture a market, it first must understand that market. Whether the intended target for the product is individual consumers or businesses, the company must know what motivates consumers, what their needs and purchasing habits are, and how they view themselves in relation to the rest of the world. Market researchers use surveys, studies, syndicated data and focus groups to collect data on a brand's target. Some companies have their own market-research divisions. Others hire specialized firms to conduct research for them. Ideally, market researchers should have both qualitative and quantitative analytical ability because their job depends on gathering data from human subjects, besides crunching numbers and interpreting the results.

Internet/Direct Marketing: Direct marketing involves using customer databases to develop

    segmentations and targeted, one-on-one marketing strategies. Although direct marketing has traditionally been associated with magazine circulation departments, catalogues, and other mail sales channels, it is especially applicable to the Internet where firms use direct marketing techniques and strategies to drive sales. Positions are also available with direct marketing agencies.

     Marketing Association of Columbia Page 3 of 33 Columbia Business School

    Marketing Association of Columbia Interview Guide 2005 2006

    Public Relations: Public relations personnel manage communications with the media, consumers, employees, investors, or the general public. They are the spokespeople for their own company or for client companies, if they work for a public relations firm. They may write press releases to promote new products or to inform the investment community of financial results, business partnerships, or other organizational news. If they're in media relations, they may respond to information requests from journalists, pitch stories to the media, or even ghostwrite op-ed pieces about the company. SKILLS & REQUIREMENTS

    Marketing appeals to creative thinkers, numbers-minded statisticians, and business strategists. Engineers, for example, work with customers to help define new products (a marketing function); psychologists analyze consumer behavior so that marketers can better target their promotions. A single purpose underlies the diversity of opportunity and the variety of marketing roles: to create something customers will want and to communicate why they should want it.

Leadership skills

     Problem solving skills

     Team building skills


     Ability to think strategically

     Analytical skills

     Communication skills


Job Title (many non-MBA) NYC Salaries, 17%-67% percentile

    Chief Marketing Officer $133,003 - $523,299

    Officer, Advertising Agency $92,493 - $258,490

    Market Research Supervisor $78,705 - $179,658

    VP of Marketing $67,539 - $134,264

    Market Research Manager $66,758 - $134,038

    Marketing Manager $69,031 - $101,786

    Source: As of September 7, 2005

2004 Graduate Full-Time Compensation, Columbia Business School (Annual Salary)

    Function % of students Range Median

    Brand/Product Manager 5.8% $56,000 - $121,000 $98,250

    Business Development 1.8% $85,000 - $153,750 $104,000

    Direct Mail <1.0% $78,000 - $98,000 $88,000

    Sales <1.0% $77,000 - $100,000 $88,000

    Other <1.0% $71,500 - $75,000 $73,250

    Source: Columbia Business School 2004 Placement Report

     Marketing Association of Columbia Page 4 of 33 Columbia Business School

    Marketing Association of Columbia Interview Guide 2005 2006

2004 Summer Intern Compensation, Columbia Business School ($ / month)

    Function % of students Range Median

    Brand/Product Manager 9.4% $800 - $7,550 $5,498

    Business Development 3.4% $1,000- $6,400 $4,800

    Market Research 3.4% $500 - $7,550 $5,000

    Other <1.0% $1,200 - $5,500 $3,350

    Source: Columbia Business School 2004 Placement Report


    ; Recruiting for summer internships at large companies begins in September when companies come

    for on-campus presentations. Informal networking occurs throughout the fall semester and then

    cover letters are sent out from Thanksgiving through winter break, depending on the company’s

    interview schedule. Interviews usually take place during the middle to end of the season,

    generally starting in late January and ending in late March. Many companies make a decision

    based on first round interviews only. Companies vary in the time taken to extend offers, ranging

    from several days to several weeks.

    ; Many smaller companies, companies in non-traditional product categories, and marketing

    services companies may not recruit on campus but may be interested in hiring MBAs on a full-

    time and summer basis. Many of these companies will send job postings (located in the job

    postings binder in the CRC) or black box postings (located on the Career Services website) so be

    sure to check both resources. The Marketing Association of Columbia also targets these

    companies with the Marketing Resume book and on-campus events. Keep in mind that hiring for

    many of these positions will take place later in the Spring semester often companies will begin

    interviewing candidates in April or May for summer internships. The Career Services Office can

    help outline an independent job search strategy.

    ; Full-time recruiting occurs in early fall. Students should check the COIN system online for

    companies that will be recruiting on-campus and write cover letters to those companies that

    interest them. Fall presentations provide an opportunity for more formal networking. Open and

    closed schedule information generally becomes available in late August. Students have an

    opportunity to bid on companies that interest them, though very often, second-year interview

    schedules are closed. On-campus recruiting interviews begin in mid-October and go through to

    January. Again, for non-traditional jobs (i.e., high tech, media, etc.), recruiting can extend into

    April and even May.

    The full-time recruiting interview is somewhat more challenging than the internship interview.

    Companies are looking for recruits who demonstrate that they have gained significant learning

    about marketing during their summer internship. Students should be prepared to answer

    questions about their summer or prior work experience in detail. They should also be prepared to

    discuss why they believe XYZ is a better place for them, if the student has the option to return to

    their summer company. Students may be asked to complete several rounds of interviews before

    being offered a full-time position.

    ; Managing the offer process for both full-time and summer positions can be stressful. The on-

    campus recruiting process can extend for several weeks, with companies who are early in the

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    Marketing Association of Columbia Interview Guide 2005 2006

    schedule extending offers before other companies have conducted interviews. The Career

    Services Office can offer guidance in these situations.


    Many companies use competency-based interviewing methods. This method typically involves each interviewer questioning the candidate on one or two key ―competencies‖ such as leadership skills or team building skills. For example, questions might be, “Tell me about a time when you led a team.

    What was your objective and how did you lead the team to meet it?” To handle this type of interview,

    you will need to prepare multiple stories illustrating situations where you demonstrated the skills listed in the section above.

    Most interviews will also include mini-cases, where you will be presented with a marketing situation and will need to describe your approach to working through the problem. This type of questioning will start by asking you to name your favorite brand or a product you use every day and then follow up with some type of analysis. You will need to illustrate your thought process and make use of basic marketing frameworks such as the three C’s (Company, Customer and Competition) and the 4

    P’s (Price, Place, Promotion and Product).

    Additional interviewing information may be found by the Marketing Association of Columbia’s guide for interviews, and various resources at the Career Center.


American Express Merck & Company

     Bristol-Myers Squibb Microsoft

     Church & Dwight Pepsico

     Citigroup Pfizer

     Colgate-Palmolive Phillip Morris (Altria)

     Diageo Revlon

     Dun & Bradstreet Sankyo Pharma

     Eli Lilly Schering-Plough

     GlaxoSmithKline Sesame Workshop

     Honeywell Target

     IBM Unilever

     Johnson & Johnson Wyeth Consumer Healthcare

     L’Oreal WPP Group

     LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton Inc. Yahoo!


; Marketing Association of Columbia Website

     Marketing Association of Columbia Page 6 of 33 Columbia Business School

    Marketing Association of Columbia Interview Guide 2005 2006

; Wet Feet Press Industry Insider Guide: Marketing & Marketing Research available via COIN >

    Career Resource Center > Wetfeet

; Wet Feet Press Company Insider Guides available at the CRC or access copies through COIN >

    Career Resource Center > Wetfeet

; Various company binders available at the CRC

; Vault Report Company Guides available at the CRC or to buy at (Include

    LION in discount code section for 15% discount), or for free via COIN > Career Resource

    Center > Vault

    ; available through Columbia’s Online Business and Economics Library (provides

    access to equity research reports on companies)

    (Many more resources are described in the Marketing Research Guide aka The Blue Guides available at the CRC against wall towards your right when you first walk in.


    Marketing Association of Columbia

    The Marketing Association of Columbia (MAC) is a student-run club that provides resources and organizes events for students interested in marketing. MAC also strives to bring students together socially, as well as work with other organizations in the University community to further enrich the experience of its members. Students may join MAC anytime during the academic year on mygsb. There are several benefits to membership, including the opportunity to participate in the Resume Book, the Mentor program, and mock interviews. Members are informed of the many MAC events via email, posters, the MAC website, and mygsb. For further information, please contact the 2005-2006 MAC President, Gretchen Murcott at

    Executive Board Members

    President Gretchen Murcott

    VP Alumni/Mentoring Leslie Neviaser

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    Marketing Association of Columbia Interview Guide 2005 2006

    VP Career Development Kimberle Lau VP Communications Jill Avey VP Conference Cecilia Leung VP Conference Stephanie DeSantis VP Finance & Membership Matt MacDonald VP Marketing Marketing Alyssa Goodman VP Member Placement Matt Biggins VP Speaker Events Evan Bashoff VP Special Events Lisa Yom VP Special Events Randi Melton VP J-Term Robyn Sparks

    Assistant Vice Presidents

    AVP Alumni/Mentoring Rachel Scher AVP Career Development Jennie Watsek AVP Communications Elena Ferchteter AVP Communications Todd Sternberg AVP Conference Annie Tam AVP Conference Jessica Chin AVP Finance & Membership Ross Goldenberg AVP Marketing Marketing Mili Dutt AVP Member Placement Lisa Grey AVP Speaker Events Swan Sit AVP Special Events Monica Ferguson

    ? Focus: Career in Brand Management


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    Marketing Association of Columbia Interview Guide 2005 2006

     Why Brand Management?

     The Interview Process

     What Do Brand Companies Look For?

     Tough Questions, Great Answers

     Interview Do's & Don'ts

Why Brand Management?

     Run your own business!

    o Early P&L Responsibility

     Inherently cross-functional

     It's all the fun stuff!

    o Advertising & Public Relations

    o New Products

    o Consumer Behavior

    o Consumer & Trade Promotions

Why Ace the Interview?

     Easy Answer: TO GET A JOB!

     Real Answer:

    o Only One or Two Interview Rounds

     Often only one chance to "nail it"

     Shorter interviews than full time hires (30 min)

    o Limited number of hires vs. full-time

     Need to be the best of the best -- stand out

    o Relationship building for second year closed lists, invitation-only events, etc.

     The Big Picture

    o Brand companies are run by MARKETING!

    o To succeed in Brand Management you must be able to market.

    o There is no better way for a recruiter to gauge your marketing prowess than in your ability


What Brand Companies Want

    ? Leadership ? Creativity

    ? Strategic Thinking ? Teamwork

    ? Communication Skills ? Marketing Curiosity ? Analytic Abilities ? A Good Fit

Know your strengths and have several good examples

     Know the weaker points of your resume and expect the interviewer to probe them

Leadership/Teamwork Questions

     Tell me about a time when you led a group through a difficult situation

     Give an example of how your involvement in a group made a difference

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    Marketing Association of Columbia Interview Guide 2005 2006

     How would someone in your group describe you?

     What are your 3 most important accomplishments?

     Tell me about a time you failed...

     and another...and what did you learn?

Strategic Thinking Questions

     Strategic Brand Management

    o You have just been named Brand Manager for ABC Product. Market share is

     tanking. What should you do?

     New product Launch

    o You are the Brand Manager on Johnson's Baby Shampoo, and you need a new

     product to drive the top-line -- where do you go?

     Risk Management

    o Identify a product/company that has made a huge strategic error. Why?

Analytical Ability Questions

     What drives the beer category and why?

     Is Super Bowl advertising a good spend?

     I'm the VP-Marketing, and I just received incremental budget funds; convince me your

     established Brand should get the money instead of a new product.

Creativity Questions

     What is your favorite card in the deck and why?

     If you could design a new vehicle, starting from scratch, what would it be like?

     Assume you are a brand. Describe your strengths and how you would position yourself in the


Marketing Curiosity Questions

     What is your favorite TV commercial and why?

     Pepsi vs. Coke -- Who is going to win?

     Why do you buy what you buy?

     Why are you interested in Brand Management?

     Why are you interested in our Company?

Interview Do's

     Have fun, get excited, be yourself!

    o Remember "Well-rounded is good"

     Marketing Association of Columbia Page 10 of 33 Columbia Business School

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