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How Would You Do in a Job Interview with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki?

The Betts Team
January 30, 2020

Baseball players take practice swings with weights on their bat, so that when it’s go-time, they can swing much harder and faster with the weights off. The idea is: practice under difficult circumstances, and the real thing will feel easier by comparison.

The same idea can apply to job interview prep. If you, as a thought exercise, prep for your interview as if your interviewer will be one of the most powerful, famous, and demanding people in business, then you’ll be ready for anything when the actual interview arrives. That’s why, today, our “hypothetical interview” series continues with the question: Would you pass a sales or marketing interview with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki? 

From working closely with the top leaders of Google to organizing the 2006 purchase of YouTube before becoming the company’s CEO, Susan Wojcicki has been a walking case study in high-stakes achievement for decades. As a result, she surely has exceptionally high standards when interviewing prospective employees. If you can pass an interview with her, you can pass an interview with just about anyone.

Making it through a tough hiring process isn’t just about interview skills. It all starts with a solid resume. Get our Resume Handbook here.

So what could you expect Susan to ask you in an interview? And how would you, an aspiring sales or marketing guru, answer her questions?

Question 1: How would you make this product better?

At the New York Times’ New Work Summit, Susan Wojcicki cited this as one of her top interview questions. She typically directs it to Product Managers, but it could just as easily come up in a sales or marketing job interview. And as nice as it may be to think they’re pulling you into the decision making process, the reality is that, like much of the interview process, this is a test. Your interviewer might ask how you would improve a flawed pitch deck, an underperforming campaign, or even the product itself. 

Whatever it is, it’s key to evaluate it based on a few key metrics: Is the value clear, compelling, and comprehensible? Is it easy for prospects to engage with? Is it truly differentiated from what other companies offer? Your ideas to improve the product should aim to get a yes answer to these questions. Strong sales and marketing professionals know that this is crucial for having a product that can sell.

New York Times Work Summit interview with Susan Wojcicki

Question 2: How do you manage your email?

Now, to be fair: Who’s great at managing their work email these days, really? Inboxes are awash with vendor pitches and corporate newsletters – and, yes, occasionally, an important message from a colleague or customer. The average person gets inundated until their inbox looks like a mess, but then again, Susan Wojcicki isn’t looking for the average person. Neither is any decent hiring manager interviewing for a decent role. 

There are a few things your interviewer is looking for in your answer here:

  • Do you have solid organizational skills?
  • How do you prioritize the myriad interests demanding your attention during the workday?

Susan Wojcicki isn’t looking for the average person. Neither is any decent hiring manager interviewing for a decent role. 

Both of these are crucial for sales and marketing roles. They require composure, time-sensitivity, and competing interests. Turns out you can learn a lot about a person by how they manage their email account.

Other questions you might expect

Fast Company identified some job interview questions cited by tech CEOs as their favorites. From that list, here are some you might expect to hear from Susan Wojcicki, and why they matter for sales or marketing roles.

  • What have you failed at? – You’d be hard-pressed to find an iconic leader like Susan who has never experienced failure. And for sales roles, failure is a natural part of the job. It’s essential to show you’ve experienced it before and persevered.
  • Talk about a rough day you’ve had at work, and how you pushed through – Similarly, sales and marketing both involve some discouragement: a deal falls through, a campaign falls flat, a goal is missed. People like Susan want someone tough enough to take these moments in stride.
  • It’s 3:15. How many degrees separate the minute and hour hands of a clock? – Think outside the box. Acknowledge the various ways of looking at one situation. Give the interviewer what they’re looking for: a demonstration that you know that even simple-sounding questions might not have just one straight answer. 

The chances you’ll find yourself in a job interview with Susan Wojcicki herself are, well, pretty slim. But if you know how you’d conduct yourself if you did, you can take any sales or marketing interview head-on. Good luck!