One of the most popular and common job interview methodologies businesses consider when evaluating how to interview marketers today is the ‘behavioral interview.’
Behavioral interview questions ask a candidate to describe a scenario they’ve encountered in the past and how they managed the situation. The idea is that if you understand how a candidate has approached challenges in the past, you get an idea of how they’ll perform when faced with similar responsibilities and obstacles in the future. It also creates an interview environment that encourages the candidate to do the majority of talking. That’s valuable when you’re trying to figure out how to hire great marketing talent.
The behavioral method isn’t the only answer for how to interview marketers; and some would argue that there are more powerful alternatives like Topgrading.
But if you’re going to take this angle, you should at least make sure you’re asking pointed questions that lead to some valuable insights on how your marketing candidate might act once they join your business. Consider what situations are likely to be most prominent given the role and your workplace environment, then choose the questions most relevant to the job:
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1. Marketing is changing faster than ever–what have you done to make sure you haven’t fallen behind?
2. Talk about a time you were put under an enormous amount of pressure and what you did to remain effective.
3. Give me an example of how you’ve approached setting your own goals in the past.
4. What’s an example of a marketing-related goal you achieved, and what steps were involved with your accomplishment?
5. How about a time when you fell short of a goal–what happened, and how did you cope with failure?
6. Tell me about a time you were on a tight deadline to complete a campaign or project.
7. How have you managed a difficult situation with an agency partner or other important vendor?
8. What do you do when you’re assigned work or strategy by a boss that you think is suboptimal or counterproductive?
9. Has there ever been a time when you felt pressured to push messaging or engage in marketing practices you thought were immoral?
10. Share a time when you made a big mistake and how you handled it.
11. Talk about a time you took a marketing risk.
12. Marketing often needs buy-in and cooperation from other departments like IT or Sales. How have you collaborated with other departments in the past?
13. Tell me about situation where you worked as part of a team to execute a mission-critical marketing project and the role you played.
14. Marketers have a lot of responsibilities and expectations put on them–how do you prioritize when you have multiple demands on your plate?
15. How have you handled getting negative feedback on your work from a peer, client or supervisor in the past?
16. Tell me about a time you had to start a new marketing project or initiative without a lot of data or experience to develop a strategy with.
17. Have you ever had to market a product or brand you weren’t passionate about?
18. What was an instance where you chose to put off making an important decision, and why?
19. How have you mediated differences in opinion or strategy among your peers, managers, or direct reports?
20. Tell me about a major change you made to an old marketing process or strategy and the effects it had.
21. Talk about your process for allocating budget and determining where to invest your resources.
22. Talk about a time when you had to choose an expensive and important new technology or vendor for your marketing team.
23. Describe a situation at work that was stressful for a long period of time, and how you handled it.
24. What was a time you combined creativity and analytical thought to overcome a problem?
Things to Keep in Mind
Ask Good Follow-Up Questions
A well-prepared candidate will approach behavioral interview questions with the STAR method–methodically explaining their Situation, Task, Actions and Results.
When executed properly, that usually provides enough context and information for you to understand how the candidate behaves. But sometimes candidates don’t come in perfectly prepared, or they give a good answer but don’t provide the information you were looking for.
It’s valuable to follow up with additional questions about how they approached a specific scenario so you really understand their though process and approach. What you don’t want to do is to simply skip on to the next subject before getting a complete picture. Consider these great examples from Emtrain:
How to Conduct a Behavioral Interview
How NOT to Conduct a Behavioral Interview
Watch Your Time
By their nature, behavioral marketing questions may take much longer to answer than their more straightforward alternatives. The candidate will need some time to recall the scenario they want to share and tell their story in a satisfactory manner.
If you have a limited interview time, you need to keep in mind that you might not be able to ask as many questions as you expect. Choose your questions wisely, and make them count!