Hiring a great marketing candidate for your team can be even more difficult than hiring a great engineer or salesperson. Marketing, as a role, tends to be amorphous. So, while it’s difficult to pinpoint specific metrics of success in this field, you can ask questions that help define the candidate’s understanding of marketing strategies and how they might approach specific challenges.
Top Traits of Marketing Candidates:
Strong marketers should be able to cultivate and foster relationships with everyone they work with, both internally and externally.
Q. Tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult colleague. What did you do to build the relationship?
Example answer: In my previous role, I worked with someone who had a particularly hard time communicating. I made a point to sync up with them outside of presentations – meeting them for lunch, organizing brainstorms beyond what was originally scoped for – until we finally got on the same page. It helped cut back on future rounds of creative presentations and ended up developing our partnership further.
Marketers should be team players. Look for nonverbal cues that a candidate effectively collaborates with teammates.
In the digital age, effective marketers are glorified storytellers. Candidates should be capable of crafting a compelling story that educates, illuminates, and excites.
Q. Give me a mini presentation on a topic you care a lot about.
Example answer: Did you know that there are over 7,500 people living on the street in our community? I was shocked to hear this number, which is why I began volunteering with a local non-profit. Along with accepting individual donations, the organization throws an annual fundraiser to help raise awareness about the plight of those who are unsheltered. And over the years, I’ve held various positions with the organization, which has allowed me to utilize my skills to support a cause I care about deeply.
Search for clues in an answer that make it clear this candidate is a natural conversationalist who can craft a story with a compelling framework that both educates and excites. Their answer should reveal some expertise, which will prove that they can passionately advocate for new projects
Today’s marketing landscape is ever-evolving, so flexibility is key. Find someone who’s motivated, curious, and interested in exploring new trends or technology.
Q. Tell me about a time when you were asked to do something you had never done before. How did you approach the situation? What did you learn?
Example answer: I love that this industry is always changing and there’s always something new to learn. When my company added a new client, I wasn’t super familiar with their technology. So I took a couple of online courses well in advance of the project kickoff so I was up to date on the latest and greatest. I actually like taking on new types of projects – it gives me an excuse to keep learning!
A curious marketer is often a successful one. Listen for phrases like “keep learning” in a candidate’s answer, because it shows their willingness to explore new trends, processes, and technology. A candidate who is flexible and has the desire to continuously grow their skill set will be an asset to the team.
Every job comes with challenges, but someone who can think outside of the box to communicate, create, and drive results will be a valuable asset.
Q. What is the most exciting project you’ve worked on? What was your role and what impact did you have?
Example answer: In my most recent role, I was a key member of the team who brought to market a new on-the-go dog treat. I was responsible for leading the external communication launch and packaging designs, and worked closely with a counterpart to handle the manufacturing and distribution. The product was purchased by 80% of mainstream retailers and has seen two new iterations.
The candidate should highlight how they played an integral role in the project, as well as its successes and failures. They should also highlight key insights that are sharp and grounded in methodology. It’s important to articulate the pain point and consumer need.
Look for someone who can add to – and more importantly, elevate – your culture in order to foster inclusion and diversity.
Q. What’s the most interesting thing about you that’s not on your CV?
Example answer: In my past life, I was an EMT. While my work took me a lot of places, one scenario I’ll always remember is the time I had to administer emergency CPR at the beach while on vacation. A young girl was having trouble swimming and without a lifeguard on duty, I stepped into action. This was luckily a one-time event, but I’ve always been able to stay calm during stressful situations, figure out solutions, and act quickly.
A candidate’s response should be confident and unique. Find someone who will add culture and flair to your team, not someone who fits the same mould as other team members. Look for what gives them joy outside the 9 to 5. Be sure to identify underlying themes that can translate to the work setting: passion, tenacity, dedication, and creativity.