So you’ve got a bunch of candidate resumes with “digital marketing” or “marketing technology” skills listed. How do you identify the best one? In an industry that’s changing rapidly, it’s challenging to ensure candidates have the skills you need to make marketing technology (MarTech) work to grow your business.
While some fundamentals for screening candidates simply don’t change, digital marketing talent need more than just technical knowledge to make a real difference.
When interviewing MarTech talent, top recruiters screen for both specific work experience and soft skills necessary for successful performance. Overall, candidates must be experts in key technology, but they also must have a proven ability to lead through influence, communicate complex topics to non-technical audiences, and the organizational skills to manage complicated and diverse projects. That’s a tall order, but important to their success.
From the MarTech conference earlier this year, we found that Marketing leaders are no longer just functional leaders but enterprise leaders who help shape the organization. To do so, they need highly qualified talent who can help craft compelling communications that engage staff, and deliver results.
Whether you’re hiring for Digital Marketing Strategy and Management, Digital Marketing Analytics or Marketing Technology, here are some questions to ask and the responses to listen for.
Digital Marketing Strategy and Management
When you interview a candidate for a digital marketing role, look for the interviewee who asks clarifying questions before giving a response. Look for someone who wants to speak, but also to understand. Below are sample questions and some suggested responses to look for that help identify leading candidates.
Question: How would you go about determining the best channels for a company’s digital marketing dollars?
Look for candidates who clarify whether it’s a business to business (B2B) or business to consumer (B2C) company, then ask more questions about the actual target audience. They should also question the goal of the digital campaigns so they can be specific in their response.
A solid answer might discuss how they would gather knowledge of their audience to drive the strongest digital return on investment (ROI). The most qualified digital marketing managers draw from their experience for examples of a time when audience observations drove both the development and delivery of strategies for specific ROI. Look for data and clear results, along with learnings and how they helped iterate prior marketing campaigns to accelerate results.
Question: Tell me one of your most effective digital initiatives or strategies, and explain what made it so effective?
Strong digital marketers will readily offer several examples of strategies and initiatives they’ve created, planned, managed, or executed, emphasizing maximum KPIs and significant ROI. Be wary of candidates who can’t provide clear, concise examples that pique your interest. Effective marketers need to draw from their experience to paint pictures of success for others that guide actions and lead change.
Listen for answers that emphasize collaboration with internal teams, senior leaders, agencies, or vendors. They should clearly express both the problem and how their strategy led directly to a solution.
Question: In the strategy you just highlighted, can you explain your role?
Find out if a need caused the candidate to create the strategy and define KPIs or if it was something they were requested to do. Was their role proactive or reactive? Look for candidates who demonstrate foresight through a proactive response to data, results or trends. If they’re simply delivering on a leader or client request it doesn’t disqualify them, but keep digging for examples of initiative where they proposed and spearheaded an idea that worked.
Seek candidates who drive results with hands-on involvement, like creating content or even developing code themselves. While this may not be mission critical to their role, it demonstrates a diverse skill set and willingness to learn and do what it takes to achieve their goals.
Question: Why do you love marketing?
Use this open-ended question to evaluate the candidate’s communication skills. Also listen for indications that they see the bigger picture, like expressing a passion for digital while connecting its importance to other marketing activities. Marketing Strategists and Managers are thought leaders who must be able to see how all the pieces fit together and communicate that knowledge to a wide range of audiences and personality types. Strong communication skills are a must.
Question: What marketing technologies have you used and what is your proficiency with each?
Candidates should be able to give specific names and explain why they chose each tool and what specifically they used it for. Listen for strategic thinkers who put marketing technologies in context with other marketing functions to encourage overall success. A digital marketer who cannot articulate their use of tools is unlikely to be able to vet, adopt or lead adoption of the tools you use and may slow success.
Digital Marketing Analytics
Hiring managers should look for a candidate that can describe technical concepts to non-technical audiences. Explain that you’re not an analytics practitioner (even if you have a strong understanding of analytics you’re hiring someone to do that job!) and ask for a layman’s version of each answer. Strong candidates will be able to respond with clarity and patience and will check in for understanding.
Question: Can you describe a situation where you had to choose between two different types of analyses and how you made your decision?
Find candidates who can describe the criteria they used and the specific strengths and weaknesses of the analytic options they used. Seek to uncover findings that caught them off guard or surprised them and ask what they did as a result.
Question: Describe the strategies and findings of an analysis you recently completed, along with how those findings were used by your business or client?
Listen for candidates who understand the marketing problem that prompted the analysis. Their response shouldn’t just be about numbers, but should also include the following:
- Initial assumptions and hypotheses
- How other analysts, technologists, and business stakeholders acted as a cross-functional team
- What analytic techniques they used
- How they both identified and presented insights
Solid candidates should be able to give more than one example and explain each in detail. They can concentrate results into clear, compelling presentations that even someone outside the scenario can easily understand. Listen for what changed based on their new insight. Was there a product, profitability gain, or new process as a result of their analysis?
Question: Which analytics tools and/or languages have you used? How much experience do you have with each and in what capacity did you use them? What about data visualization tools?
The appropriate response to these questions will vary based on what your business requires to create and measure marketing efforts. Make sure you’re clear before the interview which analytics tools and languages you absolutely need someone to know and if an alternative is acceptable. For analytics tools, Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics are two common solutions. Tableau is one of the most widely used data visualization tools, but the client may require an alternative like TIBCO Spotfire. The list is honestly very long - and complicated, since technologies are constantly changing.
Look for candidates who can articulate how they learned the technologies they know and how they stay on top of new technologies as they emerge. Top candidates are not just users of specific systems but lifetime learners with a genuine interest in - and capacity to learn - technology.
Marketing Technology Management
Marketing Technologists act as a bridge between the marketing department and the IT department to optimize the performance of both, so strong communication skills that convey their expertise are a great indicator of success. The best candidates have a breadth of knowledge about how technologies are interrelated, can articulate the benefits of one technology over another, and have examples of how they have integrated data from a variety of sources to improve results.
If you haven’t seen it already, the MarTech 5000 from Chiefmartec.com is a great visual of the complexity of the MarTech space and can be used as a guide in interviews to discuss technology options. Keep in mind the sheer number of options is growing constantly.
Question: How do you ensure your MarTech stack aligns with business strategy?
The Marketing Technology Manager is responsible for evaluating software capabilities to decide what best meets the needs of their business. Candidates might conduct stakeholder interviews, analyze current KPIs, and identify pain points.
Marketing Technologists are lifelong learners, always looking to try something new. They balance that passion with the company’s needs for cost-effective solutions that maximize results.
Question: How do you decide when to seek out new technologies versus when to focus on getting more out of what’s already in your stack?
Any time a company changes technologies, there is significant cost and lead time before reaching positive ROI. Often, companies can offer training and improve processes to get more out of existing technology. Ask for examples of when the candidate used existing MarTech to solve new challenges, and listen for innovative thinking that made the best use of resources currently available. Candidates should also be able to explain a time they selected and deployed a new tool with specific cases and user studies.
Question: How would you advocate for marketing technology in your organization? What are the barriers?
Successful marketing technologists know that the integration of marketing and technology is the best way for an organization to grow. They understand the cost challenges and know how to optimize use with ongoing training. They realize the key to experiencing success is understanding their company’s specific needs. They also acknowledge the dangers of jumping too quickly into vendor selection and underestimating migration challenges.
No matter the role, MarTech professionals must excel at building relationships between departments. They are well-versed in technology, have experience leading by example, and are able to partner with others to create cross-functional partnerships. And believe us, this space is not an easy one to navigate alone.
To ensure the best possible screening, Aquent employs subject matter experts for all the roles above, real-world practitioners who understand the nuances of the space and can provide insightful write-ups that aid in the hiring process.
If you need help making sure you have the right candidate for your business, just reach out to one of our staff for more information on how our expert program can work for you!