A lot of non-marketing people — think Founders, MD’s and Sales Directors etc. — make this mistake.
So much so that they either lose faith in marketing, lose a ton of cash or end up invariably recruiting ‘another marketer’.
They end up recruiting the wrong type of marketer for their business.
And that’s because one Marketing Manager is very different from another.
I’m not talking about personality here. The difference is given there.
However, I’m talking about the ability to get certain aspects of marketing done.
Because marketing today is a multifaceted discipline with skills needed across design, writing, coding, planning, doing, number crunching, managing stakeholders….
….the list goes on.
But if you look at that list of skills - many of them are at opposite ends of a spectrum.
And herein lies the problem.
If you don’t have the knowledge to be able to assess what a marketer can or can’t do, then recruiting them to be a success in your business is nothing more than a lottery.
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So, in this blog, I’m going to give you;
- 5 questions to ask any B2B marketer you interview
- The reasons why you should ask those questions
- What you should look out for when the answers come flying back
1. Give me an example of a piece marketing you’ve been responsible for that you’re particularly proud of — what did you do, why did you do it and what was the outcome?
So, there are two benefits to this question.
One, you’re going to see whether or not they do the work and two, whether or not they’ve been successful at generating leads.
Because if you interviewed two Marketing Managers — both could talk about the same things — but one of them is used to getting a marketing agency to execute and create the campaigns, and the other is doing all that work themselves.
And as a startup with limited budgets or a global Blue Chip, you’ll probably have different needs.
So, when asking this question, if a candidate says to you, “Well, yes, what we did is to..’
You need to drill into the ‘we’ part.
‘When you say we, who is we?’
Marketers can often use the word we and mean themselves, so don’t assume one way or another.
And it’s the same with ROI.
As you know, us marketers all know about attribution, but it’s often easier said than done.
And ultimately, some companies are set up for it better than others. They may use marketing automation or have shorter sales cycles, making it easier to measure.
However, don’t write off a marketer because they can’t give you a very detailed and crystal view of what the ROI was.
If they can’t, follow up with a question like this;
‘Look, I appreciate it’s sometimes difficult to provide clear ROI figures. What challenges did you face around this in your role?’
And follow up with; ‘If those constraints weren’t there or if you were in a company where it was much easier to measure ROI, how would you go about doing it?”
You’re looking for someone who’s got the knowledge to be able to do it.
Because if it’s a flat ‘no’ to anyone who can’t talk ROI, then you may be missing out on some outstanding marketers.
2. What do you think are the critical components to being a successful [Insert Job Title]?
This is often a question that throws people.
Because it’s not what they were expecting.
And it makes them think. Which is always a good thing, I guess.
But for you, the interviewer, it gets you to understand more about how rounded the person is.
Because in B2B marketing, they’re not an island.
Invariably, they’ll need to work with other teams, whether it be across product, sales, finance, customer experience…
Often, it’s not just a B2B marketers knowledge that will make them successful but their ability to work with others.
So, you’re looking for marketers to come back with some technical talk about their craft, that will always be important.
But, you’re also looking for someone to talk about the softer skills needed - influencing, saying no, challenging, listening, compromising etc.
So again, if you do not hear those softer skills come out in the candidates answer., prompt them with a follow-up question.
‘What about some of the softer skills?’
It’s unfair to think that marketers can second guess what you want them to talk about when you ask relatively open-ended questions. So, probe further and give them that opportunity.
3. If you were going to try and achieve [insert business problem and/or objective related to the job you’re hiring] then given your experience, how would you tackle it?
I call these opinion-based interview questions.
And they’re my favourite type of question.
Well, because I think a candidate can be unburdened about thinking into the past and remembering exactly what had perviously happened.
Some, and certainly not all, candidates can fabricate the truth or steal someone else’s success when talking about 'their' experience.
With this type of question, there’s no chance of that happening.
You’re discussing the future.
And it’s a great way to throw a few ideas around and probe to find out what they suggested certain things.
‘Oh, that’s an interesting idea. Why would you do that?’
‘What would you need to be able to execute something like that?
‘What do you think some of the issues would be to doing that?’
There are endless possibilities to get under a candidates skin and figure out their marketing knowledge.
Ultimately, are they talking sense?
And if not, challenge them on it.
‘I hadn’t thought of that approach, but given X do you think that would be the right thing to do?’
4. What do you need to be a success in this job?
This is all about expectations.
Is the candidate expecting to walk in, and be given a £1m budget and a raft of marketing agencies to help them execute every tactic?
Alternatively, are they expecting little budget and being hands-on?
And those are fairly obvious examples.
However, this question leads onto, are we aligned in terms of what you’re expecting and what our company can give you.
Because miss-matched expectations are one of the main reasons that marketers leave soon after they’ve joined a company.
And it could be a host of different things - budget, ability to implement their ideas, flexibility on hours or working from home, realistic results, the tools they need etc.
And this isn’t an assessment question. However, it’s still super important.
Important because it gives you both an opportunity to discuss exactly what is expected in the role and what you’re going to provide.
And they key here, is to be brutally honest.
Don’t say you’re looking for new ideas when realistically you’re someone who wants to set the agenda and strategy.
Or alternatively, pretend that certain things are in place when they’re not.
Be honest and look for someone who’s aligned to you and your business.
5. What do you see as the biggest challenge in this job, and why do you want to take that on?
Every marketing job is different.
There’s the product, the market, budgets, culture. Yes, there may be similarities, but your role is going to be somewhat unique.
But more importantly, does the candidate get it?
I mean, understand what you’re trying to achieve?
Have they listened and started to think hard about what they could bring to the party?
And why they’re excited about your marketing job?
Because that’s what you need.
Granted, more junior marketers won’t necessarily think like this, and no offence intended to my junior marketing friends.
But you want to hear is someone who’s engaged and not just looking for another job.
Because in any job there will always be road bumps, challenges and times when things don’t go as planned.
The question is - is this marketer going to run or become demoralised as those hit, or will they rise to them?
And the later is the kind of attitude you’re after.
Someone who can see the challenge and be excited by it.