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Coming into business school I already knew I wanted to do a career transition from industrial engineering to brand management.  I completed my marketing concentration six months into the program, became a co-chair for the marketing club and went to a lot of networking events.

In April, I took a risk and left a stable job to join the marketing team of an early stage start-up. All these actions certainly helped build my skill set and made my experience more appealing to brand managing recruiters. Now that I had a foot in the door it came time for interviews—and let me tell you, I was not prepared for them in the beginning. Don’t get me wrong, I did my homework and had solid answers to behavioral questions, but what took me by surprise were the marketing case questions, which are nothing like consulting case questions. The advantage is they are much shorter and to the point, but the problem is that there’s little to no literature about how to best answer these questions.

The Marketing Club offers a great resource to its members with a list of typical marketing case questions and a framework on how to answer them: traditional marketing structure using the 3C’s (Consumer, Company, and Competitors) and the 4P’s (Product, Place, Price, and Promotion). I also did my best to research online and even went to a couple of student-led practice groups, but I still felt lost.

The internship recruiting season was approaching and with that my anxiety about interviews was building.  To my delight, however, I got an email from the Kilts Center for Marketing with an invite to a Marketing Case Interview Prep Workshop. The invitation announced that Booth Alums who were currently in Brand Management and other marketing roles would be conducting mock interviews with small groups of students.

Marketing Case Prep
Marketing Case Prep

At the beginning of the event, Matt Riezman, ’15, (Associate Director of Marketing at Kraft Heinz) gave an overview presentation on how to best answer case questions and why CPG companies love them so much. Matt recommended we begin answering our case questions by mentioning the most important C—the customer! Matt also explained that the reason companies love asking case questions so much is because  they represent real life challenges that brand managers face every day in their roles. The recruiting team wants you to assure them that you can think of these problems in a thoughtful and rational way.

After Matt’s presentation, we started the first round table session. Throughout the night, we would rotate to three different round tables so that we were not only exposed to different alumni coaches, but also to different groups of students.

Going into the first session, I felt prepared because I’d had about three weeks before the event to study, and had made a mental note of all Matt’s advice, so I was well prepared. Or so I thought! My first attempt at answering a question failed, big time! I only mentioned the customer at the very end! Plus, I didn’t really explore the entire framework. But it was ok, this was the place to make the mistakes, so I could learn from them.

The feedback I got from the alumni was invaluable because they showed me exactly where I did well and where there was  room for improvement. Over the course of the night, each student had the chance to answer about two to three questions per round table session. But perhaps even more valuable was that I got to listen to the—sometimes very different—responses that my fellow students gave and hear the feedback that they received, which helped me to learn even more about the different ways I can approach case questions.

After the event, we had the opportunity to network with all the alums over some light appetizers and drinks. I made some new connections and had a lot of fun!

Am I perfect at marketing interviews now? Not quite yet, but the next step is just to practice, practice and practice. At least I know that I can have a way more productive practice session with my peers, because we all heard the same piece of advice and feedback. This is by far the best event I’ve been at Booth in terms of career preparation and it is indispensable for anyone seeking a career in marketing.

To learn more about the Kilts Center for Marketing and to join the thriving marketing community at Chicago Booth, connect with the Kilts Center on LinkedIn.