Interview preparation - don't forget the product

When it comes to interview preparation we are always willing and able to provide support to both senior candidates and clients alike. We offer best practice advice to ensure both parties gain the most value out of the interview process. 

Often consumer product clients and senior level candidates get too tied up in questions and answers around high-level strategic success, their management styles and the commercial and operational changes they’ve implemented. Whilst this is important, all too often, they forget to start with basics, in particular, discussions around the product. Surely the product itself is one of the most important topics to discuss?

So how can the interviewer, as well as the interviewee best highlight the product at interview?

Preparation for The Company / The Interviewer

Often an interviewer will jump straight in to the candidate questions. To help the candidate settle in to the interview a company and product overview would add a lot of value. Don’t just limit this to commercial and sales candidates either, manufacturing-led candidates will also find the information very useful.

1)      Product range overview
Discuss the best sellers, new products in the range as well the different formats that they are available in.

2)      Packaging
Show the different types of packaging and sizes that the products come in. This is particularly useful for manufacturing candidates in understanding the different make-ups of the products.  

3)      Product promotions
Discuss how are the products are promoted and which have been your most successful promotions?

4)      Exclusive and seasonal products and peaks in sales
Discuss any products that may be exclusive / SMU products for your retail partners. Are there any products that are seasonal? When do your sales peak on such products?

5)      New product development
Discuss any development ideas and future product ranges. This will certainly be a pull factor for candidates when making their decision as they can make judgement on the future success of the business.

6)      Test the products
Finally, particularly if you are a food or drink led business, why not let the candidates try some of the products. The proof is in the pudding as they say!

Preparation for The Candidate / The Interviewee

One of the most useful preparation and research methods for any consumer products candidate is to go and see the products in store. Visit the supermarkets, DIY chains or high street retail partners they have. If you highlight that you have done this and raise questions about your findings in interview, it will only help you stand out from other candidates, your research will show your commitment to wanting the job.

When visiting the store it is worth looking out for the following:

1)      Number and types of products in the range
This will indicate the commitment from the retailer to stock the brand as well as highlight the full range on offer to the consumer.

2)      Volumes of stock
Typically the bestsellers will have the highest volume of stock. This may also highlight the heavily promoted items. Again it will also show the commitment from the retailer to the brand. 

3)      Promotions
How are the products promoted? What are the offers? Are there any end of aisle or prominent promotions currently in store?

4)      Ask Questions
Question the store staff about customer feedback and their own thoughts on the products

5)      Merchandising
How is the product merchandised and displayed in store. This will give you an indication of the best sellers as well as new products that they are trying to push.

6)      Try the Product
Unless it is going to cost you a small fortune, trial (or taste) some of the products before interview. They will value your opinion and thoughts at interview stage.

Whilst skills, experience and aspirations are incredibly important getting back to basics during the interview process may well make you stand out from the crowd, both as a business and as a candidate.

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