What Do the Best CMO Candidates Ask in an Interview? CMO Interview Questions

Marketing Interview
Update: We’ve gathered some new information to help you navigate through your next hiring process. Read on and learn a few new techniques and processes to find an outstanding CMO.

The average CMO tenure is 18 months and the responsibility of this is shared by company and candidate.  Ultimately neither side knows how to properly run the interview process.  Both sides end up making a decision from far too little data.  If you are interviewing for a CMO job and want to make sure you can succeed when you get there you need to prepare properly for the interview. From the interview, the candidate needs to glean the corporation’s vision of marketing.  Does this vision actually match the expectations of the job you will do? You need to be able to ask the right CMO interview questions.

Too often, corporations have lofty marketing goals, but are unwilling to give the CMO the latitude to create marketing programs that will make those goals possible.  Bottom line is to achieve success in today’s marketplace you must successfully differentiate your brand and products. However most corporations take a risk adverse approach to marketing that leaves them with a lot of me too advertising, you can throw away remarkable amounts of money when your advertising looks like all your competitors.  You always have to protect your brand, but you can do that and still have great marketing.  Unfortunately it is rare a CEO knows enough about marketing to understand what differentiation is, let alone why it is important.  That is not to take anything away from a person who is probably extremely qualified to be the CEO, most CEO’s simply have not spent any significant time during their careers in a marketing role.  So they manage the CMO the same way they manage the CFO and it quickly becomes a disaster.

Update: The 4 Most Important Traits of a Successful CMO in 2017

As a CEO, it’s understandable to not have in-depth knowledge in the marketing department, but at least you can know what strong points to look for when searching for the next CMO.  In an ever changing marketing word, it only makes sense that your marketing workforce evolves with it. And who better to guide your marketing team than the Chief Marketing Officer. As CMO recruiters, we know the shifting expectations and challenges of the CMO and have identified the traits needed to overcome them.

As a candidate for an executive gig, you need to ask some vital CMO interview questions.  Some of which will seem very basic, but are overlooked most of the time:

  1. How do you plan to define success for the new CMO in the first 12 months and the first 3 years?
  2. Does [COMPANY NAME] have a marketing strategy to differentiate itself from the competition or are you looking for the CMO to create such a strategy?
  3. How does the company’s culture impact its marketing?
  4. How would you grade the company’s marketing over the past year?
  5. How has marketing impacted the company’s bottom line over the past couple of years?

Properly hiring a CMO is the most important and challenging task any organization has. Unfortunately the CMO candidate often fails before they ever started because they did not find out enough about the opportunity before accepting.  CMO will have big deliverables, which can be obtained if they hire the best possible candidate and give him/her enough latitude to truly differentiate.  Too often new CMO’s are expected to do great things while only painting inside the lines.

Update: How a CMO Can Still Fail Even When Their Marketing is Running Smoothly

When such major deliverables are expected without proper vetting, the new Chief Marketing Officer is brought into a stagnating organization from a confidential marketing executive search. Bravely adopting the new responsibility, they jump straight into overhauling the marketing department. They take all necessary actions to bring the company forward. They hire new, innovative talent and make critical tech updates. Things are the best they’ve been in years. In short, it seems like the new hire is doing everything a good Chief Marketing Officer should be doing. But it doesn’t work. The reason is simple: while the new marketing leader was fixated on improving and modernizing the Marketing department, they neglected to bring the rest of the company along for the ride. An important piece to the marketing puzzle is to communicate with all departments of the organization to achieve optimal results. Learn how to get optimal results from your CMO.

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