Consulting, Libraries, Marketing

Hiring a Marketing Specialist or Manager? Questions to Ask Candidates

A client recently asked me for some interview questions to ask when hiring a new Marketing Manager. I thought this was a great question, and wanted to share some of my answers with all of you!

First of all, I highly endorse behavioral interviewing. This method is based on the principle that past behavior indicates future performance. At my library, we used something called the “STAR Method,” where you provide the candidate with a scenario or question and ask them to think of a situation, then provide what tasks and actions they undertook, plus the results achieved. (STAR = Situation, Task, Actions, Results.)

With that in mind, here are some questions/scenarios that you can use to find a great marketing professional for your team.

From the free LinkedIn Guide to Screening Candidates: 30 Essential Behavioral Questions:

  • Describe a situation in which you embraced a new system, process, technology, or idea at work that was a major departure from the old way of doing things. (Screens for Adaptability)
  • Tell me about a time when you had to adjust to a colleague’s working style in order to complete a project or achieve your objectives. (Screens for Adaptability)
  • Tell me about a time in the last week when you’ve been satisfied, energized, and productive at work. What were you doing? (Screens for Culture Fit)
  • Give an example of when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with. How did you handle interactions with that person? (Screens for Collaboration)
  • Can you share an experience where a project dramatically shifted directions at the last minute? What did you do? (Screens for Collaboration)
  • Give me an example of a time when you felt you led by example. What did you do and how did others react? (Screens for Leadership)
  • Have you ever had to “sell” an idea to your coworkers or group? How did you do it? What were the results? (Screens for Leadership)
  • Tell me about a time when you had to juggle several projects at the same time. How did you organize your time? What was the result? (Screens for Prioritization)
  • Describe a time when you felt stressed or overwhelmed. How did you handle it? (Screens for Prioritization)

This next set of questions came from MarketProInc.

  • Within the past year, what has been your biggest challenge with a project or campaign, and how did you overcome it?
  • Describe the results of the most effective campaign you worked on in your most recent role. What active role did you play in the success of it?
  • Have you ever been placed in a position where you wanted to launch a project with no initial buy-in from key stakeholders and had to convince management to get on-board? How did you go about it and what were the end results?
  • Describe a time when you had to work with someone on a project that you or your counterparts didn’t necessarily agree or get along with. How’d you come to a happy medium between all parties and what was it?
  • Explain a situation where you faced a big challenge in having to balance your time and priorities to effectively control your workflow. How did you work to meet deadlines?
  • Have you ever had to lead a complex or extensive project? How did you manage your team in allocating responsibilities and ensuring deliverables met deadlines and exceeded expectations?
  • How do you stay on track with constant trends and developments in marketing? Have you ever had to lead your team on adopting a new tool or educate them about a big trend?

Finally, I had a client ask me for examples of questions to use when hiring a director who will oversee marketing, but doesn’t necessarily have a marketing background. These were my two recommendations.

Q: Describe a situation when you had to work with a creative group of people with differing opinions. How did you handle the situation to keep the project on track? (From LinkedIn)
Why this matters: This question is designed to screen for collaboration skills. Marketing managers need to be team players, but they also need to be capable of steering the team toward a common goal. Since people won’t always agree, this may require making tough decisions. Top marketing managers always put the needs of the project first, while still making everyone feel heard.
What to listen for: Answers should indicate that the candidate took the initiative to get everyone back on track. They may mention specific strategies such as striking a compromise or making an executive decision. Look for signs that they weighed up what was best for the project before acting.

Q: What is your favorite brand, and why? (From me)
Why this matters: It’s an opportunity to see how they perceive marketing out in the world, which will give you a sense of what they value.
What to listen for: Their answer should be a brand that puts customers first, communicates regularly and effectively, and delivers a great experience. 

I hope you find this information helpful, and happy hiring!

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