Okay everyone, I’m going to let you in on some of my best-kept interview secrets.
In this post, I’m going to uncover real questions I use when interviewing candidates for inbound marketing positions and the answers I’m looking for.
These questions are designed to judge candidates not only on their marketing talent, but also on who they are as people.
Remember, the best candidates aren’t just qualified for the job you want them to do. You would like to look for people who are also enthusiastic about marketing, who fit your culture and who show growth potential in your company.
Here is a brief look at my interview approach, followed by 14 excellent interview questions that I would like to adapt to your industry and your hiring needs.
My interview approach
During the interviews, I attached great importance to each candidate as an individual. My goal is always to find someone who has great long-term potential, regardless of where they are in their career.
To expose this, I like to ask questions that go at the heart of who they are, how they think about certain things, and how they got things done in the real world. I then balance these questions with case-style questions, which usually involve a hypothetical business situation, because they allow the candidate to show how they think about problems and work on them.
Below is a list of 14 questions that will make for an effective marketing interview. I asked most of the questions to candidates I met in person.
Remember, I won’t ask all of these questions in one interview. In fact, a case-style question can turn into a 10 to 30 minute discussion, often leaving me with only two or three questions in one session.
Nor do I limit these questions to the positional levels you see in the following sections. This list is just a reasonable way of organizing your interviews based on the average experience of an intern, coordinator, manager, and director. Depending on the candidate and the requirements of the role, a question for a marketing manager candidate can also be a good question for a marketing coordinator candidate.
Before starting the interview, carefully choose the questions you want to use based on the person’s role and background. For an inbound marketing generalist, you can ask some or all of these questions. For someone with a more specific role on a larger inbound marketing team, like a blogger, all you can do is focus on the blogging and content creation questions.
Learn more in the video below and check out some of my favorite interview questions below.
14 interview questions for marketing applicants
Case interview questions
1. “Draw a funnel on the whiteboard that shows 10,000 visitors, 500 leads, 50 opportunities, and 10 new customers (or whatever number you think might be interesting). Now imagine you are the CMO for the company.” Decide what your marketing team should do to improve these metrics. What areas of the funnel would you focus on and what would you do differently to change those results? “
The follow-up: The follow up here simply pushes for the candidate’s answers. Usually, they choose a part of the funnel that they want to focus on. (And if not, I’ll be happy to urge them.)
Once you’ve chosen an area, I ask you these questions: “What tactics would you consider making a change?” “What did you do in your previous role that worked?” “Do you think our company has any unique advantages? To get some leverage out of this stage of the funnel?” Not only do I want them to tell me to “improve the visitor’s conversion rate” – they have to tell me as.
When I have the time, I’ll tell them to pretend they got their ideas implemented and I’ll ask them to go through the entire funnel and explain how they think each of those initial metrics has changed.
What to look for: Everyone on the marketing team needs to understand how to think about and optimize the funnel. This is where you assess your thought process, whether you intuitively know what good and bad conversion rates are, and whether you understand how the funnel steps are connected.
You will also get some insight into whether you understand the different tactics you can use with each step to improve that particular step. (For example, if they say that the lead to opportunity conversion rate is poor, the correct answer is to stop blogging.)
2. “We have two possible designs for our website home page, but we don’t know which one to use. The CEO likes one and the COO likes another. Half the company likes one and the other half of the company likes the other . Which should we use? “
The follow-up: This type of question should ask a lot of questions to the candidate, e.g. B. who is the target group for the homepage. If they don’t, they either make up their answer or don’t have enough knowledge to address the situation. Then answer their questions with hypotheses and see how they solve the problem.
If they decide to go one way or the other and give you a reason, ask them what the goals for the homepage are. Then ask them how they would determine which homepage best meets these goals. From there, tell them that Home Page A performed well based on one of the criteria and Home Page B performed well based on another of the criteria. This allows you to gauge how to make decisions when it is not possible to get data that is 100% conclusive and you have to choose between two incomplete variations.
What to look for: While it may seem like this question is all about design, you really understand how candidates deal with a conflict of interest. Do they care what each of these people thinks or do they go to the data for answers such as: B. through A / B tests, user tests and customer interviews. The best candidates bring logic and marketing methods to their responses and remove opinions. I also like it when candidates say you should keep tweaking and improving the homepage instead of doing a complete redesign every nine or 18 months.
3. “Let’s say you have an Excel spreadsheet with 10,000 leads from a few months ago – long enough for those leads to be out of their sales cycle. The file contains information about each lead, such as industry, title, company size, and what they became to a lead (like downloading an ebook). The file also states if they were closed as a customer and how much their order cost. Can you use this information to create a lead score? How would you do that? “
Note: I often start this question with the simple question, “How should you create a lead score?” So I sort out the people who don’t have a data-driven approach. People who reply, “You create a lead score by talking to the sales team and then assigning five or ten points to each of the criteria they say they want,” are actually wrong. This is not a data-driven approach to lead scoring and, in most cases, is far too simple to work effectively.
The follow-up: Most people will respond by talking about “viewing the data” and “sorting the data”. Hit them to tell you how they’d do that in Excel (or another program if they prefer something different). It is not practical to only “look at” the data when you have 10,000 rows – you have to use statistical analysis.
You could also focus entirely on one factor, perhaps industry. If they do, you should ask them what if the small companies in one industry are good leads but the big companies in another industry are good leads, what would they say? Basically, you just keep pushing them until they no longer know what to do next.
What to look for: This case style question is designed to test a candidate’s quantitative skills, and I would only ask it for people applying for specific marketing roles (e.g., operations). Here I am trying to find out how the candidate thinks about the analysis of data and how high their demands on data are.
Most people don’t get very far, either unwilling or unable to look at more than one variable at a time or to understand how much data is easily analyzed. At the very least, you want to find candidates who:
- Look at the leads that were closed in a group and compare them to the leads that were not closed
- Look at several variables at the same time
- Use statistical functions in Excel or another program, e.g. B. Summary tables, pivot tables, etc.
If you find someone starting to come up with a coherent argument as to why you want to use logistic regression, factor or cluster analysis, actuarial science, or stochastic modeling to find out … refer them to me.
Questions about the marketing internship
4. “What is one of your hobbies? How do you do it?”
This question will help you gauge a candidate’s ability to explain a concept they know well to someone who is not so familiar with them. If their hobby is training for a marathon, ask them what advice they would give you if one day you woke up and decided that you wanted to train for a marathon. Can you communicate it clearly?
One candidate taught me how to make tagliatelle, a hand-cut Italian pasta. She gave me the full overview of how to make the pasta, how to shape and cut it, and what ingredients go into the sauce. She passed the step-by-step process on to me in a way that was very clear and understandable. I felt like I could have gone home and made tagliatelle myself. Not only did this tell me that she knows how to convey information clearly, but it also gave me insight into her personality and interests.
5. “What brands do you like or follow on social media and why?”
This is another casual but useful question as it can give you information both about a candidate’s personal interests and how they perceive marketing content on social media. The best answers go further than the companies a candidate likes to shop with – they explain why he or she trusts certain companies, what their content strategy appeals to the candidate, and what is specific to the companies the candidate looks up to (and maybe would like to emulate) in their own work).
If you need a candidate to draft, ask them to describe a post from a brand they like or follow and what made that post so memorable for them.
Questions about the interview with the marketing coordinator
6. “What do you read and how do you use information?”
Marketing is constantly changing at a rapid pace. Hence, anyone in a marketing role needs to know how to stay current and adapt to these changes. Do you know where to look for industry news? Do You Know Top Marketing Blogs And Subscribe To Them? What do they do when they see that a change has taken place, such as when Google updates their algorithm?
7. “What is an example lead generation campaign that you would like to work on here?”
Not every marketing campaign you run generates the same type or quality of leads. That is what makes this question so interesting. You can see how a marketing candidate thinks about the buyer’s journey and what that journey should be like in your business.
When asking a candidate this question, don’t expect him or her to know exactly how your company is generating their leads. The ideal answer is simply showing your client’s awareness and may ask for an on-site brainstorming session for the candidate to attend while on the job.
Expect additional questions from the respondent as well, especially if you are asking that question to a more experienced candidate. For example, they could ask how qualified the leads should be or how leads are rated as a result of this hypothetical campaign. The specific parameters are less important than the follow-up question itself – a positive sign for an analytical marketer.
8. “What are the three components of a successful inbound or digital marketing strategy?”
There is no “right” answer to this question – a digital marketing strategy depends on more than three things – but certain answers show that the candidate is up to date with how companies are attracting and delighting their customers today.
For example, “A Facebook Page” isn’t a wrong answer, but it doesn’t give you any context about how a company would use that page in their marketing strategy. Here are some sample answers to this interview question that are on the right track:
- A blog with call-to-action (CTAs), landing pages for website visitors to download additional content and a defined social media strategy.
- An SEO strategy, website chat, and analytics tool to track campaign performance.
- Buyer personalities, a marketing and sales service level agreement and a customer success strategy.
You will not learn everything about a candidate from just these terms and phrases. However, you should listen to them when the candidate answers – and expect more nuanced answers when asking this question to managers or directors.
Ultimately, the value you place on each of these inbound marketing components depends on how important they are to your business and what the candidate would be focusing on as an employee. Before directing this question to someone you are interviewing, talk to your team and define your marketing strategy. Otherwise, you won’t have an accurate measure by which to evaluate a candidate’s response.
Interview questions to marketing managers
9. “Why do you love marketing?”
Or: “What aspects of our business are you passionate about?” You want to hire someone who is both qualified and has a desire to get the job done. Otherwise, why should they work for you and not for the company next door?
Part of their answer will be in their body language and enthusiasm. The other part will be how specific their answer is. Familiarize yourself with the details by asking a follow-up question, “Let’s say you’re home kicking around doing something related to marketing. What are you doing?” Perhaps they are reading their five favorite marketing websites, or analyzing website traffic patterns for fun, writing on their personal blog, or optimizing their LinkedIn profile. Whatever it is, you want to be sure that they have a deep passion for the subject that you would hire them for.
10. “Between videos, e-books, blog articles, photos, podcasts, webinars, SlideShare, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest … there is a lot of potential content that our inbound marketing team should produce. How do we do all of this? “
The smartest candidates know that instead of doing everything, you should start with the content that matters most to your prospects and customers. You should also have a plan for conversations with customers and prospects in the form of interviews or surveys to find out what social networks they use and what types of content they prefer.
11. “Imagine we have very compelling data that shows that none of our prospects are using social media. Should we be doing this anyway? Why?”
Look for candidates who understand the importance of being successful on social media even when your clients aren’t there today. Here are a few reasons qualified candidates might cite:
- Your customers will be there in the future, so get started now.
- You gain industry strength. After all, journalists and influencers in your industry are likely to use social media – and it’s important that they follow you, even if they never become customers.
- Social media activity affects your organic search exposure and helps your content rank higher in search engines.
- You have more control over your online presence.
- Your competitors are likely using social media.
- It can cost less to generate customers through social media.
Marketing Director interview questions
12. “We launched a new product in three months. What would you do to get it to market?”
This shows you how well a candidate understands the various inbound marketing tactics and how to put them together into a holistic plan. It also gives you a glimpse of how creative they are and whether they can find new and interesting marketing opportunities.
13. “Our CEO wants you to rate our blog. What would you say?”
Before you get a response, the best candidates will come back asking you about the blog’s metrics, how many leads and customers it is generating, what its goals are, how much you are investing in the blog, and so on. This is also a great way to test that you have actually prepared for the interview by reading your blog.
14. “What is the main relationship between marketing and sales?”
The relationship between marketing and sales is known for its turmoil (sales want better leads from marketing and marketing wants sales to close more and faster).
Similar to question 8, there is no one correct answer here, but there are answers to look out for. “M.Arketer are the lead generators and salespeople are the lead closers “isn’t necessarily wrong, but the candidate who ends his / her answer here may not be someone who can align both departments with a unified approach.
The best answers describe the responsibilities that sales and marketing have among each other and the duties that everyone is committed to as part of that partnership. You have a plan to reach consensus on what qualifies leads for marketing and sales, create a common service level agreement with agreed metrics, and use content in different places in the marketing and sales funnel to turn strangers into customers.
The follow-up of the candidate
Most candidates know that they need to get in touch with each of their interviewers in the form of a thank you letter or email. However, part of my assessment is the depth at which the candidates contact me.
The most impressive follow-ups are the thoughtful ones, where candidates use details from our discussion to show that they are really involved in the interview process. Perhaps they have been thinking more specifically about a specific question I asked and they sent a long email researching a question they don’t think they met. Often times they send me a light strategy document with ideas and / or research on something we talked about. These candidates are more likely to stand out.
Well the cat is out of the pocket. You’ll need to use these marketing interview questions as a foundation to create your own, similar questions that are relevant to your industry and hiring needs. Good luck and have fun adjusting!
Do you want more interview tips? Learn more about some of the questions candidates hiring managers should ask.