What’s your understanding of our target audience and how we help them?
Effective marketing is about understanding and meeting customer needs. You want to know that your candidate has taken the time to research your company and familiarize themselves with the people you serve. That genuine curiosity and empathy is the foundation of marketing success—if they don’t have it, why would they want to market on behalf of your organization?
Imagine we’re about to release a new product in three months. How would you help orchestrate a successful launch with an all up budget of $500K, including media spend?
A successful marketing campaign typically involves lots of moving pieces—both online and offline—coming together in a way that builds measurable awareness and sales. An ideal answer will show that the candidate takes both the big picture strategy and the tiny details into account, and all in a focused, goal-oriented way.
What do you think sets our brand apart from our competitors?
Great marketers are visionaries who can quickly identify connections between the existing marketplace and what your brand has to offer. What does this candidate see that others don’t? Do they bring a fresh perspective to your product or market? Look for clues that you candidate possesses a keen eye for the nuances that make you distinct in a competitive landscape—and an ability to think creatively about how to marry your offering to the market need.
How would you innovate our current marketing approach? What would you do differently?
You want someone who’s done their homework, and isn’t afraid to push the boundaries. Someone who is familiar with innovative marketing tactics and can think outside the box. It’s a good way to get a sense of whether or not they will truly add value to the team or if they will just be a great executer. Good marketing is as much about excelling in the present as it is about looking ahead. Your candidate should have a sense for where your industry is, where it’s headed, and how that might inform future marketing strategies and approaches.
What is a product that you have successfully marketed? What was your strategy? What channels did you use and how did you measure the impact?
A great candidate won’t struggle to think of an example from their previous work. Listen to how they describe the experience of developing their strategy—does the passion come through in their voice? Are they animated and excited when they talk? More importantly, was the strategy a sound one and how successful was it? Depending on the nature of the campaign, they may have used a number of channels to track their success, like social media engagement and survey feedback, and they should be able to clearly explain why they used those channels.
Tell me about your experience with paid marketing.
Sometimes you have to spend money to get the attention of your audience. A great answer to this question will show that the candidate has not only used paid media in the past but is financially responsible and capable of managing a marketing budget effectively. In their previous role, how much did it cost them to acquire a customer? What were the most profitable channels? How did they optimize spend? Did they operate against a clear set of goals? You’re looking for attention to detail and an ability to speak to the economics of a given marketing campaign.
How do you approach a situation where you have to act quickly but don’t have a lot of data to inform your decision? Give me an example.
The speed at which the candidate can answer this question is an answer in and of itself. If they really have to think about it, they probably aren’t comfortable making quick decisions. The example itself should show that the candidate is comfortable leaning on their problem-solving skills and applying logic under pressure, and that they’re always somewhat prepared for an emergency. Listen for answers that clearly and concisely outline the situation, the reason they made the decision they did, and the results of that decision.
Describe a time when a marketing campaign you were involved with failed. What did you do?
Much of marketing is experimentation, so there are bound to be a few failures on the road to success. When that happens, does your candidate take responsibility and point a way forward, or do they make excuses or blame others? You’re looking for emotional intelligence—the kind that keeps cool under fire and focuses on solutions, not problems. You’re also looking for someone who learns from failures and uses that as an opportunity to optimize campaigns in the future.
Give me an example of how you’ve used data to inform your marketing efforts.
Today’s marketers have more data at their fingertips than ever before—but does your candidate know how to use it? The best candidates are comfortable not only analyzing data and extracting meaningful, actionable insights, but also presenting that data in a way that’s easy for others to understand.
Describe a situation when you had to work with a highly creative group of people with differing opinions. How did you handle the situation to keep the project on track?
This question is designed to screen for collaboration skills. Marketing managers need to be team players, but they also need to be capable of steering the team toward a common goal. Since people won’t always agree, the candidate’s answer should indicate that they took the initiative to get everyone back on track, whether that was striking a compromise or making an executive decision that was ultimately best for the project.
What’s the last marketing skill you learned?
The marketing landscape is always changing. The ideal candidate is a dedicated lifelong learner who takes the initiative to further their professional development. Listen for references to books they’ve read, courses they’ve taken, and meetups they’ve attended—along with an indication that they’re always seeking to grow and develop their craft.
Tell me about a time when the demands of a project changed significantly. How did you ensure a successful outcome?
This question tests the candidate’s adaptability, which is an important trait in the fast-moving world of marketing. Maybe a project’s budget was suddenly halved, or key members of their team were needed elsewhere. How did they handle that situation? Were they quick to look for solutions? How did they keep their team’s morale high? You want to know your candidate can take sudden changes in their stride and make strategic pivots to drive a project to success.