As the summer heats up, and recent grads get bored of being poor and begin their job search, and companies take advantage of “slow months” to bulk up their teams, we see an influx of resumes and open positions. So many resumes. So little time.
After you’ve pulled the best resumes of the bunch it’s time to chat. Whether that’s over the phone or in person we’ve got you covered. Here are ten ways to weed out the weak (wait, I mean learn more about your candidates) during the interview process.
1. Give Me Your 30 Second Elevator Pitch.
What’s the 30 Second Elevator Pitch? It goes like this: Imagine you’re in the elevator and the CEO of the company you are about to interview with is standing right next to you. You know it’s important that you introduce yourself and take advantage of a sliver of their busy schedule. What do you say to them when you know your time is limited to about 30 seconds?
What you’re looking for in an answer: As an interviewer, you’ve read the candidate’s resume and have a basic overview of their experience. By putting a candidate on the spot and giving them this hypothetical scenario, you force them to think on their toes, show a creative side, and loosen up during those first few minutes of the interview. This is a great substitute to “tell me a little about yourself” or “summarize your experience” and adds a little fun to the conversation.
Bonus: Candidates will mention tidbits they deem most important about themselves and the points that they want you to know first and foremost. This can show you how they view themselves in a workplace and what is important to them.
2. Why Marketing?
Sometimes the simplest of questions can tell us the most about a person in an interview.
Asking why a candidate is interested in pursuing a marketing career will give you insight into the way they perceive the industry and if they have done their research into the job role. Most entry level candidates may say something like, “I love that there are so many facets of marketing, so many things you can do, etc.” Which makes sense. They don’t know exactly what type of marketing they are interested in just yet and are looking for something that exposes them to a little bit of everything while you figure it out. No harm, no foul.
A candidate that is well prepared for the interview should see this one coming and have an answer prepared. Bonus points for pulling points from the job description and incorporating them into an answer. If a candidate isn’t interested in doing or learning about the work stated there, why are we having this conversation?
I like to ask this question towards the beginning of an interview to get the candidate comfortable with talking about themselves and the job that they are applying for. We’re both here for the same reason. Get the right person for the job hired as soon as possible. Candidates are hoping they will be the chosen one and usually have a good idea if they are qualified for the job before applying. (I hope.)
3. Why our company?
Entry level, recent grads are most likely looking for a job related to their degree and will stumble upon your job listing on either a career platform from their university or the most recent Glassdoor postings. Experienced applicants will be looking to make a switch from their current organization and therefore know what qualities in a company they are looking for.
Prod a little with this question. Did they do their research? Do they know what your product/service is? Have they explored the blog? Know who our CEO is? Read up on us to know we are one of the Best Places to Work in DC?
I’ve also have found that if you do not ask this question, candidates can leave confused about what it even is that your company does. It provides a good launching point to discuss how a specific role relates to the overall company goals. Be careful to be aware of your expectations when asking this question: candidates are not going to know as much about your company coming in as you do. Give them a break if they aren’t familiar with the nitty gritty.
4. The Social Media Questions.
We all know that “kids these days” live on Snapchat, Instagram, and all those apps that allow too much insight into what each other had for lunch, who today’s #bae is, and throwbacks to the yesteryears they’re too young to really claim. Lots of recent grads have this grand idea that a marketing job means playing on social media all day, every day.
Use this opportunity to shape their expectations by asking about strategies they’ve implemented before.
Some specific questions to ask: What messaging is most effective when someone reaches out to our company page via social? Have the interviewee give an example strategy of how best to gather more customers/clients/followers.
Bonus: Ask how your company could better utilize social media. Bit of a sneak attack with that one… Did they do their homework and check out your social pages?
5. What marketing platforms are you familiar with?
Most likely, candidates that are recent grads could count on one hand the number of marketing systems they’ve had experience with unless they were fortunate to have had a past internship where they were able to get their hands dirty. This is also a great question to ask to see what they are even aware of as far as software and tools go. Marketing automation, email marketing, social media management, CRM, online advertising? How have they used these tools? Give them a chance to explain the work that they’ve done and how they used them to contribute to the overall marketing strategy.
Remember, just because a candidate hasn’t used the exact same tool you do every day, it doesn’t mean they aren’t qualified. If they are a good potential hire, they will be willing to learn and be trained up on anything you throw their way.
6. What motivates you and makes you feel successful at work?
Success means many things to many people. During the interview process it is important to understand what motivates a candidate and if that motivation is something you as a manager, and your company can match. What do they value in a job and expect to get out of the one you are discussing? The answer to this question, like many others, will tell you more about the candidate and how they will perform in a work environment.
Also, there may be experiences from past jobs that the candidate cites as examples here so pay attention. Were they micromanaged to the point that numbers are not how they want to be measured? Do they mention analytics and tracking? Are they growth minded or motivated by money? Have a competitive edge? See how in depth they go and if they value feedback from managers and coworkers.
7. Give example of when you got difficult feedback from a manager, customer, etc. How did you handle it?
By asking a candidate about a time that went less than favorably, you open the door into how they would react in similar situations in your office. A smart candidate will take this opportunity to tell about a negative experience that they then took action and turned it into a positive or learning experience. A not so smart candidate will bash the said situation, those involved, and give you a quick reason to cross out those last few questions on your list. Nobody wants someone on their team that doesn’t value problem solving. You want a teammate who will take ownership, and move forward positively.
8. What resources do you go to for tips, trends, etc.?
Again, this is an easy one to see if they’ve done their research. What blogs do they follow, any influencers that they can rattle off? Can they point to any publications or maybe even professors that they still keep in touch with?
I like this question because good candidates will dive into a laundry list of resources that they find reputable. In such a digital age, those that want to learn and are focused on becoming better marketers will definitely have favorites that they are excited to point out.
9. What do you do for fun outside of work?
People love to talk about themselves and their interests. Asking this question is a great way to learn more about the candidate’s lifestyle and if they would work well with others on your team. This question also gives the candidate a chance to show a little more of their personality and open up about what they like to do in their spare time. It’s always fun to hear what people like and if they have interests similar to others on the team.
10. Questions for me?
Always, always, always make time for questions that the candidate may have. It is so easy to get wrapped up in a good interview conversation and skip over important information about the position or the company. Be open to their questions and honest when answering. Candidates will respect you and the company you work for if they believe they are getting a genuine insider opinion. Remember, you are the one conducting the interview, you can give a candidate as much or as little information as you think is necessary.
Now, we’ve all been on the other side of the table. Instead of preying on candidate’s inexperience with specific questions about the exact button to click to make X action happen in a certain software, make the opportunity to learn about their work style and if you think they could learn your process and work well with the existing team.