The right marketing professionals are the face and voice of your business. Having the wrong person driving your brand image can result in lost customers and debilitating drops in sales. But how can make sure you hire the right marketers?
The interview is the most crucial part of the recruiting process. You’re going to encounter candidates who are superstars as well as candidates who simply aren’t right for your environment. Not only do you have to identify who is who, but you have to get them interested in your company at the same time.
Vetting Marketing Talent Appropriately
Naturally, your most immediate priority will be to properly vet talent so you can remove unfit candidates from the process as soon as possible. While there’s a lot that goes into vetting marketing talent, here are key areas in which to focus your efforts:
Comparing role responsibilities from your job posting with a candidate’s resume is enough to set up an initial phone screen, but after that, it’s time to get into the nuts and bolts of the role. Ask applicants if they have a portfolio of work that they can provide. While some candidates like designers may have this more readily available than others, any marketing professional should be able to show you proof of their past efforts. Even if client names are scrubbed, what do real examples of their work look like? Can they talk through the process they used to create something? How did that piece successfully support the marketing of a product or service? Look for strong, clear answers as they talk through it.
Assessments, Tools, and Certifications
For an even stronger sense of the quality of a marketing professional’s work output, consider giving them a small test related to the open role’s responsibilities. Ask designers to revamp the cover of one of your eBooks. Have content writers craft a new introduction for one of your website’s blogs. Invite marketing managers to lay out how they’d organize the workflow of a theoretical new project. While marketing skills are generally transferable between industries, assessments like this are especially helpful if the candidate has never worked in your niche before. Similarly, find out which tools or certifications the candidate has under their belt. Experience with email programs, customer relationship management software, or marketing analytics tools could all translate nicely into your open role.
Any marketer will be faced with a number of fires to put out during their career. It’s necessary to understand how the candidate you’re interviewing will respond during any potential crisis. If they’re unable to talk through an example from their past, ask the candidate to describe how they’d handle a theoretical negative situation. How do they respond to bad social reviews? What would they do if an unflattering news item were written about the company? If they’re able to describe their course of action and see it as an opportunity rather than a setback, then you’ve got a great candidate on hand.
Regardless of their role, every industry professional should understand the power of digital marketing. Social media managers may come to mind first, and managing a social presence is important, but what about the larger digital environment? For example, design and content work is composed differently when it’s for a Google ad versus when it’s for a print ad. Furthermore, modern multi-channel marketing strategies require bridging the gaps between campaigns. See if candidates can talk about the big picture with an emphasis on digital. If they’re able to connect their past efforts to a clear increase in leads, revenue, or other statistics, that’s a great sign too.
Successful marketing departments operate as true teams. While a small business may have one marketer wearing many hats, most companies employ at least a few marketing minds. When one person writes, another designs, and yet another manages campaign execution, they must work together well. How has your interviewee collaborated with others in the past, especially in teams of people with diverse professional backgrounds? Does their process align with your company? If so, it’s an indication they could seamlessly step into your open role.
Standard Interview Best Practices
Focusing on the above areas is crucial when interviewing marketing talent. While there is no shortage of additional marketing-focused questions you can ask, they’re not all you should use. Tried and true interview questions exist for a reason. Cherry pick the best ones to mix in, and you’ll get the full picture of the candidate you’re interviewing. Here are just a few of our favorites:
- What makes you passionate about this field?
- Tell me about a time you disagreed with a decision at work. How did you present your opinion?
- What’s the most successful project you ever worked on?
- Describe how you work under pressure. How do you set priorities and handle tight deadlines?
- Tell me about a time you failed. What did you learn from the situation?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- Why do you want to work for this company?
Enticing the Best Marketing Professionals
The interview process is a two-way street. It can be easy to get so wrapped up in vetting a marketing candidate that you forget candidates are interviewing you too. Think about the ways you can sell your company. Marketing talent encompasses a diverse group of personality types, but many of them view themselves as creative. How can you help foster their creativity? Can you give them the appropriate space and time to work? Is the office environment a colorful and comfortable one that can help brainstorming sessions? Can you grant flexible hours if someone wants to brainstorm late at night when their creative juices are flowing?
Like other groups of professionals, marketers also want career growth. It’s important to address their career aspirations and determine how you can support that path. Do they want to pursue an executive career and eventually become your company’s CMO? Are they interested in other parts of your business, perhaps wishing to move to your sales department eventually? Speaking to their interests shows that you’re committed to helping them grow the way they want to within your walls.
Finally, don’t neglect to describe any perks or benefits your company offers, especially if they’re unique initiatives. Do you grant Volunteering Time Off? Does the company throw annual parties with free food or plan post-work happy hours? Are there fun competitions throughout the year that employees look forward to? These may seem like minor things, but they make a big impact in getting candidates excited about working for you.
Interviewing Marketing Talent
A skilled marketing department can be the difference between record growth and declining sales. Don’t let your brand voice be taken out of context by hiring marketers who either aren’t right for your company or don’t have the skill set needed for your open role. Accurately convey your organization’s image to the customers you want to reach by properly interviewing marketing talent and hiring the cream of the crop.
Don’t have the time needed to vet marketing talent? Reach out to ATR and we’ll help you find the best marketers in the game.