Over on Zoe's and Gretchen's blog, they are discussing the “Dos and don'ts” of phone interviews (OK, grammar and punctuation police, come and write me a citation for that sentence...I'm waiting for ya!). No need to restate what they have so eloquently stated. So let me just tell you the difference between phone interviews for tech and phone interviews for marketing. I'll follow up in subsequent posts with some “do“s (dang it...where are those punctuation police when you need them?).
So with marketing phone interviews, we also focus on competency interviewing. In addition to that, we assess industry/domain knowledge (I'll explain) as well as experience and knowledge of marketing fundamentals. There are certain traits or qualities that make someone a great employee for Microsoft in general; in short, people who are smart and can get stuff done (BillG came up with that about 25 years years ago and it still works for us). And trust me, I am thinking about this while I am on the phone with someone.
As far as marketing fundamentals, it really depends on the type of role I see the person fitting into (grammar police? anyone? anyone?). What I am trying to figure out is whether your approach to marketing really drove a product forward, helped you break a new market, helped you land a great partner opportunity, etc. And I want to know what it is about you that made you successful in doing that. Part of that is smarts, part is training that you have received in marketing and part of it is your understanding of the competitive environment. (See Gretchen, you aren't the only one that is using your degree...that business degree of mine sure does come in handy sometimes!)
So the industry/domain knowledge piece is what I use to evaluate which client group/opportunity is potentially the right for for you. The other stuff helps me determine whether you could really have along term career at Microsoft. Typically, folks at Microsoft move around...to different groups and different roles...because they are smart and adapt to their new industry space and working environment. It's difficult for a new employee to ramp up on Microsoft (I'll talk about the fire hose effect later) and the industry space. So I am usually looking for this industry knowledge in our conversation.
With marketing roles, the recruiter is really trying to make a decision about whether to bring you in for interviews. Sometimes there is a second phone interview involved and don't read anything into it if you are asked for this second interview. It's just that we aspire to learn enough about our clients needs to do a good assessment in our interview with you. And it's not like we are asking you to code or anything.
On the marketing side of the house, we are lucky enough to not have our questions published on the web (Chris Sells..don't you get any ideas!). But if you want to be mentally prepared for the phone interview with the recruiter and/or hiring manager, think business case study. Some recruiters use this more than others (and if I phone interview you, well...you can count on it!), but I think the best recruiters are pros at this. They understand their business environment and what good marketing looks (sounds) like. And like Zoe said, you can't fool us. We are trying to make sure that you will do well in a face-to-face interview situation at Microsoft. As much as our roles are focused on filling positions, we are in the business of finding people jobs..the right jobs. And making sure that if that right job for you could be at Microsoft, the right people here know about you.
A couple final notes:
**Gretchen spoke about people not expecting much from the “HR interviews” because of the experience that they have had with recruiters in general. Don't make the mistake of thinking this will be true with your Microsoft phone interviews. Recruiters here are really passionate about the space they work in. Bottom line: I get marketing. The phone interview needs to go well for us to move to the next step in the process.
**Unlike some technical questions, there are no “right” answers to marketing questions. We are looking to make sure that you considered the right things, took a clear approach to solving the problem and were creative in proposing solutions. If we push back on your analysis, convince us.
**Be nice to the recruiter. The people we hire today are our hiring managers of tomorrow. We have a vested interest in making sure we hire people that collaborate well (with folks of all levels and backgrounds...not just recruiters). I too have had phone interviews with people that felt like it wasn't worth their time to speak with a recruiter. You can guess whether they got to the next step in the process.