Don't put a marketing candidate off during the interview


Don't put a marketing candidate off during the interview

Karen Lloyd employer, interview, HR...

Competition for the top talent is hot this new year with Brexit causing marketeres to be more cautious. It is not unusual to find those candidates active in the market with more than one offer on the table.

With this in mind, it is easy to make a candidate think twice about working for you or your company during an interview with questions that might be a little too edgy, or an overly direct manner that can put people off.

To avoid this, think about the topics you want to cover in interview and the manner in which the questions are couched.   No one sticks purely to competency questions (you don’t cover the full process this way), and it is often this other line of questioning that trips you up.  Its not usually the case that your questions aren’t valid, it is more about their presentation.

Let’s look at some examples which have been posed to candidates or marketing colleagues in the past; what they really meant to ask and how it could have been rephrased:

Question: I have extremely high standards and am very demanding of my staff.  How will you cope with this?

What the candidate heard: The manager is demanding and might be difficult to please, putting excessive pressure on me.

What you actually wanted to know: Our team works hard and strives to meet high standards.  How will the candidate cope in a high pressure environment?

How to re-phrase: Set in a competency style: Tell me how you manage multiple projects with conflicting priorities whilst delivering quality results.

Question: Our budget for the year has just been slashed and we need someone who can run marketing campaigns on the cheap.

What the candidate heard: The company is losing money and sounds a bit tin pot.  I’m going to have to cut corners and things won’t be done properly.

What you actually wanted to know: How innovative and creative is the candidate in making the most of a small budget or whether they rely on agencies and large budgets to get results.

How to re-phrase: Set in a competency style: tell me about a time when you had to deliver a campaign on a limited budget.  How did you achieve results?

Question: The last person who did this job wasn’t successful because they were able to manage the workload and run parallel marketing campaigns.  What would you do differently? 

What the candidate heard: You are badmouthing your team and that the workload is heavy and might be unmanageable.

What you actually wanted to know: How the candidate manages a heavy workload and what approach they would take to the role.

How to re-phrase: Set in a competency style: You have read the job description and see that there are multiple elements to the role.  How do you foresee managing this?

Question: In response to an answer why the candidate is leaving their current role: That’s bulls**t – why are you actually leaving?  (and yes this was a question actually asked to a marketing colleague!)

What the candidate heard: You’re a liar

What you actually wanted to know: You think there is more to the reason they are leaving.  Remember, candidates are encouraged never to speak negatively about their current company so you may have to dig deeper to understand the reasons.

How to re-phrase: Probe further: Imagine if I called your current employer – how would they describe you?  What would they say?