Hiring a digital marketer can be a pricy investment, but it’s also one of the most worthwhile hires you’ll ever make — if you hire correctly. The right candidate will be able to strategize and execute your marketing efforts to drive sales, increase revenue, and boost your bottom line, all of which can more than justify the expense of having a marketing person on your payroll.
It’s not hard to find someone who specializes in digital marketing. In fact, the job outlook for these positions is slightly better than average, with a 10% projected growth by 2026. But because there are so many moving parts in the industry, it’s not easy to find someone that has the exact skill set that will fuel your growth.
Let’s look at seven ways you can “test” candidates during the interview to make sure you’re getting the most effective digital marketer.
1. Get Specific on Roles and Functions
Digital marketing activities span a full spectrum: SEO, content marketing, social media, CRO (conversion rate optimization), data analysis, email drip campaigns, PPC ads, affiliate marketing, influencer marketing, and retargeting, just to name a few.
While it’s nice to think that you can land a jack-of-all-trades, keep in mind that the field is deep AND wide, and it’s not likely that you’ll find a do-it-all candidate who’s truly a master of everything.
Rather, you can typically get more bang for your buck when you hire a full stack marketer — someone who is fluid in everything from creativity to technical skills to sales know-how. In addition, they should also have in-depth knowledge in a particular area, such as an expert content marketer or social media maven. Let them devote all or most of their time to what they do best to get the most impact.
2. Ask About Results, Not Just Experience
Anyone can make themselves look credible on paper, but looks in marketing don’t matter ― it’s results you’re after.
Don’t dwell too much on past job titles or companies. Instead, focus your interview questions on their methodologies, implementation, and results.
Some questions you might consider:
- What’s the most successful campaign you’ve ever run? What role did you play in the campaign and what were the results?
- Tell me about a successful A/B test you ran that increased your response.
- Describe the last content strategy that you executed and what went into creating it.
- How do you pick effective marketing KPIs?
- How do you approach SEO?
Candidates who have real execution experience versus theoretical knowledge will be able to specifically outline what they did, how they did it, and the exact results that they yielded.
3. Talk to Previous Clients or Employers
If you’re hiring a freelancer, go straight to the source and ask former clients about the work performed and results received. Freelancers have the benefit of working directly with clients and building a personal relationship, and will likely have several clients for you to speak with about their results.
If you’re hiring someone who worked for another agency or company, then go the traditional route of thorough reference checks with their former employers or supervisors. The goal is to better understand the role the candidate played in strategy development, execution, and tracking.
Here are some questions to get you started:
- What digital marketing activities did [candidate] do for you? Do you have any specific results you could share with us?
- How much of a consulting role did [candidate] take on?
- What do you feel was [candidate]’s strong suit?
4. Assign a Test Project
Take-home projects or test assignments are becoming more popular during the interview process, and most candidates won’t mind having the chance to prove themselves. Naturally, the goal is to see what they’re capable of, but don’t neglect the following telltale signs:
- The ability to follow directions
- Timely completion
- Their need to ask clarifying questions
- Whether they make assumptions
- Their knowledge of your company
- Whether they did the bare minimum or went above and beyond
You can tell a lot about the candidate in a test project to minimize the chance of making a wrong hiring choice. The key is to keep it relevant and short, giving you just enough information to decide whether they should advance to the next round. Otherwise, good candidates may end up resenting working for free and take themselves out of the running.
5. Review Their Online Presence
Digital marketers should know the value of an online presence, so do a deep dive on their website, blog, social profiles, or other websites to learn more about them. Audit their LinkedIn network to see if you have any shared connections, as well as see how many other professionals in their field they’re connected to.
If they have a blog or website, look at what they’re doing to market themselves, even if it’s just leveraging SEO or maintaining consistent branding.
6. Ask About Ongoing Education
Digital marketing is ever-evolving, and anyone who’s truly worth their salt will keep up with the changing tides. If they don’t invest in ongoing education, then they’re likely using outdated methods that won’t continue to get good results for the long term.
Some things you might ask about:
- What digital marketing blogs or influencers do you follow?
- What digital marketing email newsletters do you read daily/weekly?
- What seminars, conferences, or workshops have you attended in the past year?
- How do you stay ahead of the digital marketing curve and educate yourself?
7. Don’t Overlook Cultural Alignment
Just like hiring for any other position, the digital marketer you hire will become part of your employee ecosystem and should fit within your organization on more than just skill set.
You not only want to know what they’re capable of, but also need to know they’re not pushing strategies you’re against. Talk about their values, goals, and how they might go about developing your marketing strategy to ensure alignment in every aspect. When they share your priorities, you’ll have a much better chance of achieving an optimal outcome.