Hiring new team members for your growing marketing team is exciting, but weeding through the candidates to find a good fit can seem like torture. It can be tempting to hire the first decent candidate to get the ball rolling, but a quick hire can turn into a burned out employee who just wasn’t a good fit. Turning over a candidate can cost the company over 6 months of that employee's salary, so a fast turnover rate is something all marketing managers should actively try to avoid when building out their team.
$4,129 was the average cost-per-hire in 2016. (2016 Human Capital Benchmarking Report)
Feel confident in forming a strong, adaptable marketing team by asking interview questions that tell you how a person learns, adapts and collaborates - things that are not at all evident from a paper resume. Being prepared with dynamic questions that aren’t your typical marketing interview questions will reveal how a candidate will fit within your team dynamic and test their aptitude for making valuable contributions.
What marketing interview questions should you ask to hire the right candidate?
You’d be surprised at what you can learn by asking personal questions in an interview. You’re not only recognizing that your candidate is a person and not a robot, but you’re giving them a chance to reveal details about their communication and work preferences in an indirect manner.
1. Can you tell me your story?
The first time I was asked this question, it really threw me off. For a split second, I wasn’t sure what angle to take or if the interviewer was expecting me to belt out my whole life story. That’s the point. This open-ended question automatically puts the candidate in defensive mode.
You’ll learn firsthand how your candidate reacts under pressure and how well they can articulate on their feet. Everything else you gain from this question is a bonus, and can range from what someone wants out of their career to how they explain their transitions between past roles. Ask follow up questions accordingly.
What to look for: Storytelling that can translate into creating content, presenting a brand and connecting with customers.
2. What has been your most significant career achievement to date?
You’ve probably have asked and been asked this question as it is such a good way to understand a candidate. It zeros in on the S-T-A-R components: Situation, Task, Action and Result of what a person feels was their most productive achievement. Get a feeling of their performance level, what they consider to be significant and how active they were in actually achieving it.
What to look for: Responsibility, leadership and a level of achievement that aligns with your organization.
3. What about your greatest accomplishment outside of work?
Don’t underestimate questions that have nothing to do with work because, surprise, they have everything to do with work. You’re investing in a person, not just an employee, and ensuring that you can put trust in that person. This question will show you what motivates a candidate, and what’s important to them.
What to look for: Traits that can translate to bringing value to the marketing team and the company.
4. If I gave you X amount of money right now, what would you do?
This question has been known to come up in as a brain-teaser. There’s no right or wrong answer per se, but pay attention to the motivations behind their answer. There's nothing inherently wrong with buying $10,000 worth of chocolate Easter bunnies, but there better be a good reason for it!
What to look for: Wisdom in making decisions and attention to detail.
Some marketing interview questions will be dedicated to the specific role that you’re hiring for within the team. Dig deeper into the work history and your candidate's previous roles to determine technical experience, but use these as examples of targeted questions to set them apart and decide which one has the potential to best impact your growth.
5. Product marketing: How would you manage a new product launch?
Figure out how your potential product marketer likes to lead, and how they utilize other team members and communicate between teams. Gone are the days where product launches could be rushed and still be successful. There should be a process, and this process can’t be exclusive to just the marketing team.
What to look for: An understanding of processes from start to finish and involvement of other departments.
6. Social media marketing: What do you think of our current social media presence? What would you improve?
Is your candidate prepared and do they know what they’re talking about? That’s what this question addresses. You’ll be able to immediately pick up if they know what it takes to create a successful social media strategy and see if they’re well equipped to make impactful changes to your current strategy.
What to look for: Attention to detail and plenty of suggestions.
Related: 25 Interview Questions for Your Next Social Media Manager
7. Content marketing: What is a recent piece of content that has stood out to you?
A growth-focused content marketer will be curious and always keeping an eye out for success stories from other companies and industries. Even an entry level content marketer should have a general idea of what stand-out content looks like. You’ll get a great idea on what the candidate feels is valuable and if it matches with what you're looking for.
What to look for: An on-trend example that highlights what’s happening with content at the present time.
8. Marketing analyst: Name an insight or trend that you see happening in our industry right now?
Without disclosing any confidential information, this question showcases the candidate’s expertise in pinpointing what data is valuable and how to come to those conclusions. Their role will be to predict how a product or service is going to perform in a marketplace, so it’s important that they understand what data to focus on and how to present those findings to less analytical counterparts.
What to look for: A person who can make big data sound simple.
The way your team communicates with each-other is a huge determining factor for productivity and success, as 86% of surveyed employees cited lack of collaboration or ineffective communication as the reason for failures at work. This set of questions reveals how and if a candidate is going to fit within the current team structure, and if they’re going to bring something valuable to the mix. There is no amount of technical skills that will outweigh a cultural mismatch.
9. What kind of management style do you generally prefer?
This can show how someone likes to be managed as well as how they like to manage others. There’s a reason this question gets asked all the time; it’s one best indicators if a candidate is going to work well within an existing team and the company at large. If a candidate thrives on organization and instruction, for example, they might not be the best fit for a flat team that requires autonomy and self-management - and vice versa!
What to look for: Similarities in preferred management styles to how your marketing team is already structured.
10. Name a team building activity that you loved and why?
Team building activities might seem boring or forced, but they come in all forms and can differ quite a lot from company to company. Ask this question to discover how a candidate interacts with others and if they’re able to work seamlessly with a team to create an innovative solution to a problem. They even might have a great idea for your next team building event.
What to look for: A team-player who can successfully solve problems involving others.
11. If I was to call your current/previous boss, what would he/she say about you?
Most people will hesitate to stretch this answer too far from the truth knowing full well that there’s a chance that you will be speaking to their previous boss as a reference. This question can reveal if a candidate can see themselves objectively.
What to look for: Honesty and humility.
12. What questions do you have for me?
Collaboration and listening skills are essential for any marketing team. If your candidate was mentally logging notes during the interview, they should have questions for you. No questions following an interview is a general sign of disinterest and that they’re not serious about the role.
What to look for: Information retention, listening and communication skills.
Beyond the dynamic of the marketing team is your overall company culture. An ever changing start-up and a well-established agency are going to have completely different work environments. Ask these questions to see if your candidate is well prepared to integrate with your company values.
13. What’s your ideal work environment?
Everyone prefers to work in a certain way and companies are no different. This question is especially important during a phone screen or initial pre-screen; if you work in an office that is mostly silent and music-free and a candidate says they thrive in a collaborative and busy environment, it may be not a great fit.
What to look for: A natural fit into an already established culture.
14. What are your hobbies?
Marketing is about building relationships and trust through promotion. What a candidate does in their free time can say a lot about how they’ll relate to clients and co-workers and how they’ll present information.
It also just goes to show that they’re passionate about something. One doesn't have to write a blog, do photography or be instafamous in their spare time to be a fantastic marketer. Your perfect candidate could love spending time baking at home or playing in a jazz band, what's important is that they show they’re dedicated and passionate.
What to look for: Someone who is well rounded and passionate.
15. If something doesn’t go according to plan, what do you do?
This is a professional way of asking, ‘what happens when you don’t get what you want?’ and it’s exceptionally telling. Determine if this person is an emotional decision maker or a calculated one.See if they prefer to fix the mistake on their own or consult the team, and who they blame when things go wrong. This should be a go-to marketing interview question because things often don’t go to plan, and you want a strong group of people equipped to push through those challenges.
What to look for: High emotional intelligence and someone who can roll with the punches.
16. Insert wild card here
Urban Outfitters is another company known for their quirky interview questions. They ask questions like, ‘what is your spirit animal?’ and ‘what would be the name of your debut album?’ They want someone who is witty and creative and can come up with an established answer, no matter how wild. These questions spark connection and conversation. When it comes to culture fit, trust yourself and your colleagues to feel out candidates that would be an awesome addition to the marketing team.
What to look for: A natural connection.
Over to you
Building a strong marketing team takes time, there's no doubt about it. Focus on hiring candidates who have impressive skills and are a great culture fit in order to maximize your productivity and, hopefully, minimize turnover.
I hope these interview questions will help you on the quest to building a stronger team! What are your favorite marketing interview questions to ask or be asked? Share them in the comments below.