Marketing Talent: Top Tips for Interviewing the Best

CMO interview questions.

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If you want to recruit and hire the best marketers, you have to be able to communicate with them comfortably.

When your company has a priority marketing need that needs to be filled, it’s not enough to get good candidates in for an interview. The interview itself is an essential way to ensure they’re a good fit and have the skills and knowledge you need. And while it might seem like they’re the ones being evaluated, rest assured that they’re making judgments about their interviewer and the company as well. In order to get the most talented marketers, you’ll need to impress them as much as they impress you.

You’re not talking to junior-level candidates about nonessential roles. A “regular” interview doesn’t get you the information you need and discourages potentially great candidates. Avoid these problems by tailoring your interview strategy to accommodate spectacularly clever, high-achieving marketing talent.

Talk about Results

Marketers wear many hats these days; as advertisers, content creators, branders, strategists, communicators and more. But it’s all in an effort to achieve one thing: results.

The best marketing talent realizes this. So when you’re planning your interview questions, prioritize those that will lead to discussions about their past achievements. Don’t dwell on small-scale processes and actions; get to the point. Were they able to drive increases in market share and revenue? How much did they improve their marketing budget ROI? Did their actions increase their new customer base?

Past success is the easiest way to predict future results. If your candidate isn’t comfortable answering questions about it or struggles to give evidence of their value, they are not a good fit.

It might seem aggressive to go right to the hard-numbers topics. But great marketers won’t mind talking about them. They prefer it. Avoiding the subject might even be off-putting to them. They want to be assured that your priority is the same as theirs: results. If both parties don’t match up on this, then it’s a waste of time to talk about anything else.

don't waste marketing talent time

Talk about Challenges

High-achieving marketers are always looking for new and unique challenges to conquer. Regardless of how well you think your company is running, you inevitably have hurdles to top and traps to avoid.

If you’re really looking for the best marketing talent, you want someone who pursues and thrives in the face of difficulties. Don’t be afraid to ask about their past challenges, but also be ready to share some of yours. You want the kind of person who gets excited about the idea of a new job with interesting obstacles and  immediately starts thinking of potential solutions.

A big part of what makes your company interesting to talent is your own goals and challenges. Marketing talent that doesn’t see your job as a compelling and stimulating is likely to look elsewhere at places where they can be challenged and continue to grow.

Talk about Trends

The marketing world is constantly shifting as new ideas, strategies and technologies emerge to outshine the old. It’s difficult to keep up with all the latest it has to offer, yet extremely talented marketers manage to stay abreast of it all—at least as far as anything concerning their field.

Make sure they are committed to continual learning and personal growth. What opportunities do they see in an emerging medium? How will a recent regulatory law affect their potential results? Do they agree with the wild claims of an industry through leader? What business and marketing books have they read recently, and what did they learn?

You want to know that your new marketing talent is keeping tabs on the most important news, thoughts and best practices related to their slice of marketing. They want to know their new employer is doing the same. This is a great opportunity for you both to show your marketing literacy—just make sure you’re up to speed enough that you don’t say something incorrect.

Talk about Marketing Talent Opportunities

Talented marketers aren’t just obsessed with marketing results—they pursue personal results, too. What that means exactly can vary wildly from person to person. But most of them share similar professional goals: climb the ladder, gain more prestige, earn more money.

If your candidate sees little room for upward mobility in these areas, don’t be surprised when they turn down your offer. Whether they’re interested in becoming a senior subject matter expert or going down the path of upper level management, expect an A-player to only join companies that have room for them to grow professionally.

Interviewing the best of the best requires preparation. But it’s worth the effort for all parties involved. You get to be reassured that your candidate is a strong fit with the right priorities, while demonstrating your own competence and interest in their success.

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