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We often find that recruitment into a first marketing role moves into the frame at around 6-9 months into implementing the Watertight Marketing. As it comes up time and time again, I asked Cheryl Crichton if we could borrow her very handy post on key questions to ask at interview. ~ Bryony Thomas, Author | Watertight Marketing

 

If you’re a small business looking to recruit into your marketing function, I would in the first instance ask if it’s really a Marketing Manager that you need? If you’re not sure, this article from Watertight Marketing explains what skills and qualities to look for in a Marketing Director – I would read that first and establish if you need someone of that seniority or not, and then work your way back.

What else do you need when interviewing?

Once you’ve done that, it’s worth then having a think about other things like:

  • How much are you willing to invest in that person?
  • Who can support you with the interviews (even if just a friend)?
  • What is your interview approach and technique? For example, will you set homework or invite role play, and will you need a one or two interview process?
  • Also, especially if you’re setting them some tasks to prepare and present at the interview, how will you choose between candidates if they all appear suitable and an even match?

This is where scorecards can come into play (unless you trust your gut which can be no bad thing). I’ve yet to write a blog about scorecards, but any recruiter worth their salt could show you some examples there. And, on the subject of gut feelings, the book BLINK by Malcom Gladwell is a really good one to read with regard to that.

What about references?

Will you require any? References of course come with their own set of constraints about what you can and can ask for, or what an employee is obliged to give. See some guidance from .GOV here »

Thoughts on who is conducting the interview

The other thing to think about is who is doing the interviewing? If you’re lucky enough to have a marketer on your team already, then the deeper detail of the questions and the answers you get back will be easier to interpret and challenge by that person.

If you don’t have a marketer on your team who can help with that detail, then you should consider outsourcing recruitment to a specialist.

Get into their shoes

It’s also worth doing a bit of research on the kind of resources that are out there to help candidates prepare for interview. If you know what they are being advised, then you can look out for it, which would reassure you of their commitment to getting this job. See Monstor.co.uk for example »

Example questions

Whilst I’m not a recruitment specialist, but I do know that asking the right questions, and understanding what you can tell about the candidate from the answer you get is a real skill. Their answers will tell you a lot about what kind of person they are too. For example, let’s explore this question:

1) ‘We’ve worked-up two design options for our website’s homepage. The MD likes one and the Financial Director likes the other. Which one should we use?’

Their answers: This question is designed to provoke a myriad of questions like ‘Who is the page aimed at?’ and/or ‘Has it been optimised for SEO?’.

If they don’t ask questions like this, then either they lack the knowledge needed to address the questions/situation or are simply making their answer up. Question their answers back and see how they work though the problem.

If they pick a side, ask them what they think the objective for the homepage might be, and how they think the website would meet those objectives. Tell them that one of the designs performed well against those criteria and the other on something else. Then ask them to comment. This way you can start to determine how they make decisions and choices about marketing activities when it is not possible to get completely conclusive data.

Other things to look for: While this question may at first appear around design, it is in fact about strategy, and managing your managers

2) ‘Why do you love marketing?’

Or, ‘What do you know about us and which aspects of our business inspire, motivate or excite you?’

Their answers: What you are looking for here is not just an articulate answer, but their body language too. Are they animated? Excited? Forthcoming with ideas about what they might do if you hired them?

More questions

There are dozens of questions you could engineer to test how they answer. Here are a few more (without the reasons for asking or notes about what you are looking for in an answer – see if you can add to those yourself):

  • How would you go about clarifying our key audience?
  • How would you choose between all the activities and channels out there when we know we can’t use them all?
  • Let’s imagine we have some data that convinces us none of our customers are on social media – should we ditch social media as a strategy?
  • If we had to choose between offline and online advertising, which one should we choose?
  • How would you launch a new product that will be ready in three months?
  • Our blog is not performing – how would you evaluate it?
  • How do you stay up-to-speed with industry trends?
  • If you were a brand of car, what brand would you be (this is a bit of fun really, but great for seeing how they understand branding and personal branding)?
  • Who is your business hero?
  • Is capitalism a good thing (I borrowed that one off Bryony Thomas – thank you Bryony)?
  • What is the biggest professional mistake you would admit to?
  • What do you do outside of work and how do you do it (this is a great one to see if they are good at explaining how to do something)?
  • What charities are you interested in?

Rewind, to the first step

And finally, I would say there’s one more really important step in the recruitment process you need to have finalised before you even advertise for your role. The Job Description.

Without one, you’re unlikely to attract the right candidates in the first place. So, it may pay you to work with a recruiter who specialises in marketing recruitment to get that right.

If you would like to work with me on devising a job description, or set of questions to ask during interview, I’d love to hear from you.

Notes: Some of the ideas and question examples I have used here were from an article by HubSpot in 2014. I’ve since tried to find the article link but have been unable. I thank Hubspot for the article anyway and many more similar articles can be found on the web. Post originally published on www.solidsources.co.uk September 2021

© Solid Sources Ltd

Cheryl Crichton

Cheryl Crichton

Watertight Marketing Master Practitioner

Cheryl is an award-winning marketing coach and advisor and one of our Master Practitioners. She loves a bit of strategy, but is never happier than when she’s elbow deep in delivering a serious bit of clever marketing. Covering digital, social media, direct marketing, events, website build, brand, advertising.

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