When it’s time to expand your startup’s growing team, you can’t go wrong with hiring a marketing strategist. Sure, accountants, customer service reps and other specialists are all important, but it’s your marketing team that puts money directly back into your pocket.
But, of course, you don’t want just any marketer. You want a true rock star — somebody who’s going to move the needle for your business. Why is this important?
Let’s look at the Creative Group’s most recent salary guide, which reports an average salary for content strategists of $72,500 to $100,000 per year. Now, let’s add benefits to that. Joe Hadzima of the MIT Sloan School of Management puts these at an average of 25 to 40 percent of an employee’s base salary. Even if you hire on the bottom end of the pay scale for this position and offer minimal benefits, you’re still looking at total costs of $90,625 a year.
That’s huge, but it’s not even the entire picture. Training magazine estimates that the average cost to train a single employee is $1,200 a year, while the National Association of Colleges and Employers puts average recruitment costs for companies with one to 500 employees at $7,645 per employee. Add that all together and we’re now at $99,470 — nearly six figures — before we even take into consideration the average 1 to 2.5 percent of total profits the Mellon Financial Corp. estimates are lost due to diminished productivity while onboarding new hires.
Think about it for a second. As huge as that number may seem, what happens if you make a bad hiring decision?
Picking the wrong employees results in wasted time and lost money. To help you avoid this expensive scenario, I’ve put together a list of 25 of the questions I use when filling marketing positions. They’ve helped me recruit some of the top talent in my industry, and I’m sure they’ll help you find your own marketing rock star.
Most interviewers start with fact-based questions, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Fact-based questions let you confirm whether the candidate has the skills you’re looking for, in addition to providing you with information that can be cross-checked against his or her reference to verify accuracy.
Believe me, if you do your due diligence and determine that a candidate lied to you on the following questions, that’s a huge red flag not to go forward!
1. How long did you work at your last job?
2. How long have you worked in the industry?
3. Where did you go to school?
4. What was your favorite subject of study?
5. Have you ever managed employees before?
6. Have you ever been fired from a previous position?
7. What has been your most successful campaign in the past?
8. What marketing strategies do you prefer to use?
Of course, fact-based questions should only be a part of the puzzle. While they might give you valuable information, they don’t provide any insight into how the candidate will handle the unique situations that may arise at your company. For that, you’ll need to ask situational questions such as the following:
1. You’ve just picked up a call from a customer who claims to have not received his shipment, even though UPS confirms it was delivered. What do you do?
2. A customer has just posted a negative review to the company’s Facebook page and you’re in charge of responding. How do you handle it?
3. An SEO technique you’ve used successfully in the past has just been devalued by Google. What do you do next?
4. You’ve been tasked with redesigning the company’s brand strategy from the ground up. Walk me through your process.
5. You’ve been put in charge of planning the company’s nationwide conference. Where do you begin?
6. One of your employees has just accidentally posted a personal tweet to the company’s account. How will you handle her?
7. What do you do to stay up to date with new marketing techniques?
8. What recently-developed marketing strategy, technique or tool interests you the most right now?
Finally, be sure the round out your interviews with behavioral questions, as candidates’ past behavior tends to be a pretty good predictor of how they’ll act in the future. Any of the following question prompts should get you started:
1. Tell me about how you handled a situation where you had to work with a difficult colleague.
2. Describe a time where you made a major mistake and had to think on your feet to come up with a solution.
3. Tell me about a past situation where you had to juggle multiple projects with competing deadlines.
4. Tell me about a time where you had to put in significant effort up front and then wait a long time for success.
5. Describe a situation at a past job where you had to take initiative.
6. Tell me about a time when you received criticism and how you reacted to it.
7. Share with me a past situation where you had to work with colleagues or team members who were very different from you.
8. Tell me about the project you’re most proud of from your past work history.
Obviously, this isn’t a comprehensive list, and you’ll want to modify or exclude some of the questions above based on your company’s needs.