Asking the right interview questions can help you identify the right marketer for your team. VizExplorer’s Trent Dang is a bit of a turnaround expert and has hired numerous marketers in a variety of markets. These are his suggestions for questions to ask and the insight into the candidate you can get from their answers.

Hiring the Modern Marketer – Questions to Ask

1. Tell me about the role.
Why? In addition to identifying whether or not the candidate understands the basic nature of the role, you can uncover any thoughts on new approaches and tools.
Caution light: A repetition of the job description included in the posting.
Green light: Identifying a point or two from the posting and giving it a POV that is unique.

2. Tell me about your approach to marketing.
Why? You want to discover how well a candidate connects the dots between the tasks at hand and how they fit with a strategy. Most of all, you want to understand if the candidate has a good grasp on all the tools available to them as a marketer. You can see how they fit with the organization and the skills of the team already in place.
Caution light: “Marketing-speak”. A good marketer can distill lofty ideas down to the relevant points that will translate to action. Remember that in many ways, they are selling themselves to you. If they don’t know how to connect to you with relevant content, they may not know to do the same with target customers.
Green light: Putting the approach in terms and relation to the target audience and strategy.

3. Our company is small/large. Tell me about your experience working in that type of environment?
Why? Employees who have ever only worked in one type of company may experience a difficult operating in a different environment. Having to be chief cook and bottle washer in one experience may make it hard for them to “let go”. Having had the luxury of delegating, may make it difficult to execute a particular task.
Caution light: “I’ve worked in all types of environments. I’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
Green light: “I understand the challenges in this type of environment. As an example, when I worked at A…. As a result, I now do X.”

4. Tell me about the employees that you worked with in the past.
Why? Teamwork, employee growth and leadership are all important parts of the role. This will et you how they worked with others and if they are the type of leader to grow the skills of their employees.
Caution light: “My employees have always worked well with me. I can give you references.”
Green light: “I have had many employees who have gone on to good positions. I’m especially proud of John Doe who is now. When we worked together, we incorporated projects that would help him develop new skills. When I came across a position, he was the first person I thought of. I would hire him today.”

5. What do you think about our current marketing?
Why: Unless you have a horrible situation at hand, you don’t want someone who is going to reinvent the wheel. You want someone who can evaluate current programs against the goals of the company.
Caution light: Anything answer that immediately points to how they can make something better.
Green light: A discussion of possible approaches. Are you doing this? Have you tried that?

6. Do you think your current position is reflective of your skills and abilities?
Why? As marketers, we can’t deny we have healthy egos. This question will help you identify how healthy it is!
Red light: “No. Unfortunately, I’m working in an environment where there is a lot of favoritism.” This was an actual answer I witnessed. In the end, it was truly an indicator of how well this person would fit into the position we were hiring.
Green light: A yes and no. Ideally, the person is in a job that is challenging yet achievable, but is ready for growth your available position could provide.

7. Tell me about a mistake you recently made.
Why? As humans, we’re fallible. As marketers, we make mistakes. Famed CMO Jeffrey Hayzlett tells a great story about a mistake he and his team make at Kodak. You want to understand, how this candidate identifies a problem and how they solve it.
Red light: “I don’t make mistakes.” Interestingly, this answer came from the same person who gave us the red light answer in #6.
Green light: Any example that shows they saw the mistake and took steps to rectify it without shifting the blame or making excuses.

8. Tell me about a project that you lead that affected multiple departments.
Why? Today’s evolving customer is exposed to all facets of an organization. Coordination and communication across multiple departments is critical to delivering a positive customer experience.
Caution light: Any answer that doesn’t indicate they were aware of the roles other departments played or that they didn’t communicate in some sort of formal fashion.
Green light: Any example that walks you through how they communicated to others in a timely fashion and shows they made themselves available to assist others in delivering an outstanding experience for the company and the customers.

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