As the number of marketing channels and technologies continues to grow, so too does the need to hire specialists for your team.
However, hiring managers—and even industry professionals—are themselves rarely specialists in every area of marketing.
So how do you ensure your company is selecting the right marketing expert for your open position?
Questions About Previous Experience
Here are questions to ask candidates applying for a specialized marketing position in demand generation, business development, email marketing, social media marketing, and content marketing:
Demand generation: consider asking...
What percentage of revenue were you responsible for? What did your overall process look like? How was each stage of the process defined? What were the top five metrics that you tracked daily? What were your conversion rates at each stage? How did you improve them over time? What were your top channels, and what percentage corresponded to each? Which types of programs were most successful? How did you drive improvements for each? What was your approach to integrated campaigns?
Business development: consider asking...
What methods and frequency did you use to communicate with sales? What productivity tools made the business development team more effective? What did you do with your team members to help drive the biggest performance improvements? What were your conversion rate targets, and how did you improve them over time? How did you measure the performance of each team member? How did you guarantee that your team would meet or exceed their quotas? How did you handle under-performing team members?
Email marketing: consider asking...
What did your database look like in terms of quantity and split across various personas? What percentage of your database was opt-in vs. paid leads from third parties? How did you measure and improve the quality of data in your database? What fields do you consider "must-haves" vs. "nice-to-haves"? What creative techniques did you use to tier your database? How did new leads enter the database, and from which sources? How often did you purge the database to ensure data quality? How did you improve click-through rates? How did you implement A/B testing? What kinds of drip campaigns did you have running? How did you measure the effectiveness?
Social media marketing: consider asking...
Which channels were most successful for you in your previous roles? How did you determine which type of content to distribute in each channel? Which tools did you use to analyze and identify opportunities? What was your posting frequency? What were your key metrics for each channel? What were your proudest accomplishments in each channel? What tactics worked best for boosting engagement in different channels? What did your process look like for each channel? Was there any content that you shared on all channels? If so, how did you make the decision?
Content marketing: consider asking...
What did your content strategy look like in your most recent role? What were the most successful types of content? How did you measure content marketing performance? Which types of content work best for each stage of the funnel, in your experience? What was your frequency for each content type? How did you balance quality and quantity? How many audiences did you produce content for? How did you ensure that your content was resonating with those audiences? How did you come up with creative ideas? What did your content process look like? Which stakeholders and internal team members were critical for your success?
Five Questions to Help You Figure Out What Makes Them Tick
Though it's important to drill down into candidates' marketing backgrounds with questions such as those listed above, it's also a good idea to include high-level questions that will help you learn more about them, such as how they define and measure success, what companies and marketing leaders they admire, and their preferred marketing technologies.
Consider asking the following five questions:
1. What would success look like for you in this role?
Your candidate's response to this question will tell you how he or she defines success for the role itself, and how he or she could contribute to your team and company. People who are interested in moving the company forward will likely mention aligning with sales and watching the company grow. Look for people who mention growth in their answer, and those who link their individual success to the larger success of the company.
2. What is the best way to measure your success?
Look for someone who comes back with clear answers that can actually be measured, such as conversion rates, click-through rates, and specific, measurable outcomes. They are likely goal-oriented and will be able to help think in terms of metrics from the start, even in relation to their individual performance.
3. Who are your main "gurus" and go-to sources of ongoing education in this area of marketing?
Candidates who are truly on their game will not have to think too long about this questions. If they can't name any, they are clearly not a specialist in this area. That's fine if you're hiring a generalist, but not if you really need someone with a track record in a particular area of marketing.
4. Which companies do you admire most in this area of marketing?
This question gives you a slightly different view of the candidate, and it reveals more about their aspirations. If they can't name any companies that are doing a good job in this area, that's a red flag that shows they may not be as passionate as you might want.
5. What are your preferred technologies for this area of marketing?
This is a bit of a trick question. Candidates should show a willingness to experiment with many marketing technologies, even if they have strong preferences. Look for people who have quickly mastered new technologies and have tried out various tools relevant to their work.
Prioritizing Corporate Culture
Of course, corporate culture is a major consideration when hiring.
Every person you hire can have a dramatic impact on the team's morale, productivity, and, ultimately, its success. So make sure to have various team members interview candidates, and make sure to consider their feedback seriously.
Your team members will come up with many other questions, beyond just the ones listed here, to help you truly determine whether your candidate will be the perfect fit for the specialized opening in your company.
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