Accessing a marketer’s skills

What’s the one question that reveals more about a marketing job candidate’s skills and past performance, than anything else?

You see, hiring a marketer is tough, even if you, yourself have experience in the field. The reason is that it’s often hard to assess the candidate’s REAL performance based only on their outcomes.

Here’s what I mean… (and I’ll give you an easy solution).

A go-to question on marketing job-interviews is this: tell me about the outcomes of a campaign/project of yours.

Nothing wrong with that question, right? You want to hear strategies, numbers, revenue… straightforward, huh? Except, it isn’t.

The problem with the answer you get to this question is that you don’t have context, so it’s impossible to separate the candidate’s (or their marketing department’s) performance from other factors influencing the numbers.

To give you an example: you won’t know whether a 24% increase in sales YoY is due to
– the market having grown
– an increase in sales-power
– the product having improved dramatically
– PR or other business activity unrelated to your candidate’s performance.

Unless you know the company and the industry, you won’t have context, you won’t know what other factors have influenced their performance.

So, what’s a better question to ask your next marketing candidate? It’s this:

Tell me about a failing campaign that you have turned around. A variation of this is:

Tell me about a screwup of yours, where you have learned something, applied it and made things right.

Rather than giving you just numbers (good candidates will give you numbers as much as their NDA allows without you having to ask) …this question gets people to talk about what they did. And they’ll reveal their thought process.

Then, you’ll just need to dig deeper into why they did what they did – what were the assumptions behind their tactics-strategies…

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