10 Questions CMOs Must Ask Digital Natives

In today’s highly digitized world, the value of a marketer who is adept in digital is invaluable. CMOs must make sure they attract, hire, and retain technology-savvy digital marketing talent to keep their organizations on the frontline. The cost of missing is extremely high – those who hire the wrong talent put their own seat in the C-suite at risk.

Digital Marketing Executive Search – How Do You Know You Found the Right Leader?

Digital Marketing Recruiters: How to Evaluate Top Digital Marketing Talent When You Are Not a Digital Native

As a CMO, you must find digital natives who have a keen sense of the developments in technology. This is vital for adeptly sharing your message with connected consumers.

However, marketing leaders must be careful – just because someone lives in the digital world doesn’t necessarily make them a digital native. Someone who speaks digital must be deeply immersed in it and everything it has to offer.

Your HR team may be excellent at hiring top talent but when it comes to digital – are they up to speed? How do leaders in the C-suite confirm they’re hiring the right digital marketing talent? Digital marketing recruiters share the best practices on acquiring, hiring, and validating a digital native, and questions you need to ask.

1. How have you used technology and innovation to help your previous employers grow?

When asking this question, you should expect candidates share past success stories or experiences that speak to their expertise. They may share a general strategy for continuous fostering of innovative environment and finding ways to improve marketing processes by incorporating technology, or they may share specific success metrics and strategies. Whatever path they take, you should get a good sense of the type of value the candidate is able to provide.

2. How can our marketing take advantage of all the new media channels that are coming out?

10 Questions CMOs Must Ask Digital Natives

Truthfully, no organization should be trying to take advantage of every new media opportunity that comes their way. Your candidate should express that there are many platforms and applications available, and that not all of them are effective uses of your budget. However, they should also share how they would analyze potential channels that align with your business objectives and any emerging media that would drive results for your brand.

3. Can you provide examples of how your knowledge of digital has affected employers’ ROI?

Ultimately, you want your next executive hire to drive revenue and growth. As digital marketing recruiters, we always ensure candidates are able to attribute their efforts to ROI, and are able to speak to their past success and quantifiable efforts. Top candidates will also share their perspective on digital changes in marketing and how they can be implemented to continually improve marketing ROI.

4. How do you stay ahead of all the changes in digital marketing?

With the massive disruption of technology, this is one of the most valuable questions to ask your candidate. Any adequate marketer should explain how they monitor and analyze the endless flow of emerging marketing channels and develop a strategy to incorporate the most promising options. They should mention how they learn from books or online publications, follow thought leaders, and update their skill set with relevant training and courses.

5. What are some cutting-edge martech solutions our organization could use?

Of course, this answer is going to differ based on your industry and business. However, your candidate should be able to share specific solutions and tools they think your organization could use to optimize marketing operations. Whether it be Campaign Monitor for email marketing or HubSpot for various automation capabilities, competent digital marketing talent will be able to provide you with specific examples.

6. How would you marry and promote digital throughout the entire organization?

This question allows you to gauge the type of leader your candidate is and how they work in collaborative environments. A great executive is able to communicate how they effectively lead their team in working together and cross-functionally across the entire organization. They should be able to explain how they plan to implement and help others (including C-level leaders) adopt emerging technologies. If it seems that they don’t work well with others or lack strong leadership qualities, this is a major red flag.

7. What is the biggest upcoming change you foresee in the digital field that you could help us adjust to?

Top digital marketers always have a part of their attention committed to looking toward the future to effectively prepare for upcoming trends. This is another good way to learn how your candidate stays on top of changes in their discipline and what specific changes they feel are most important in real-time.

8. What do you think of our customer experience?

We’re in a customer-centric world, where the customer experience is a critically important differentiator for any brand.  It’s one of the first things any modern marketing leader should evaluate when researching a potential employer. This question ensures that the candidate not only understands your business, but is capable of bringing in fresh ideas of how to fundamentally improve it.

9. How would you go about evaluating our organization’s capacity for a major change?

More than ever, marketing is accountable for change management and driving evolution to enable company-wide growth. However, not all companies are equipped to change at the same rate. Marketing leaders must be able to find the right balance between adapting too slowly and too quickly for their organization. Your candidate should explain how they would  investigate successful past transformations, gauge your organization’s current ability to digest change, and navigate internal bureaucratic and political obstacles.

10. What do you think about our website/blog/social media presence?

10 Questions CMOs Must Ask Digital Natives

This question allows you to understand how much research and preparation the candidate has done on your company ahead of the interview. Expect a good candidate to comment on your strengths, weaknesses, and what they could help you do better. You should consider having some recent metrics reports ready in case they want to take a more analytical approach to the question.

Bonus: Unique Insights from a Digital Marketing Expert

While gathering insights, we were able to discuss the developments in digital with one of the leading digital marketing experts Scott Cuppari, and how these developments impact the change in the digital marketing talent organizations need to hire.

“You want to try to find a candidate who has the right balance of digital marketing speak and a strong foundation on the more technical or IT side,” Cuppari says. “Not saying they have to be an IT practitioner or business analyst by day, but somebody who really sits in the middle of that, inspires and motivates the team, and has a really good vision and strategy for where the digital landscape’s going.”

When interviewing and vetting for digitally-inclined candidates, Cuppari asks questions that accurately help him understand whether they come from a background that’s more technical or marketing-related. “It really speaks to how they work in that complex organization – finding someone who can understand the business need and the business opportunity or goal, and translate that into technical requirements that other people can immediately take action on.”

Some of the most important things Cuppari makes sure to look for in a senior-level digital marketing executive is strategic thinking and making sure it’s rooted in the consumer and what the consumer’s needs are. He gauges for “a balance between shiny objects in digital marketing and the actual business results that need to be delivered. Somebody that has the vision and strategy to do amazing and first time things, and who stays grounded in the business and the operations side on what the business really needs to accomplish.” He asks for illustrative examples of work or projects the candidate has done recently to speak to their credibility.

When asked about important developments in digital marketing, Cuppari believes it’s a better understanding of the customer, and synthesizing all of the data organizations receive to make it easily accessible and digestible. Your top digital candidates should know the answer to how companies can effectively instill or drill into the insights amidst all of the available data.

The Bottom Line

Whether businesses like it or not, the digital age isn’t just on the horizon – it has arrived, claimed its place, and is here to stay.

CMOs have to lead, learn, and manage digital. It means building the right teams to support tremendous changes. A marketing team with a strong discipline in digital will identify and make the most of those opportunities, while a team with little digital competence will get left behind.

Do you already have the right talent in place to hit the ground running?

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