“The Great Resignation” has impacted nearly every industry in 2021, and the digital marketing industry is no different.
With higher-than-average turnover rates, it can sometimes feel impossible to land the perfect candidate.
When hiring for a digital marketing role, asking the right questions is key in really getting to know each candidate so you can evaluate your options as completely as possible. So after spending a few years in a hiring role within our agency, I’ve come up with 15 must-ask interview questions.
These sets of questions can be categorized into the following:
- Tactical Knowledge.
- Strategic Knowledge.
Sometimes, the “why” behind these questions is more important than the question itself. Feel free to use these in your next interview with candidates for open digital marketer positions.
Tactical Knowledge Questions
The first set of questions focus on an individual’s tactical knowledge of digital marketing. Many of these questions can be applicable whether you’re interviewing for a PPC, SEO, email role, etc.
1. What Types of Budgets Have You Managed? (PPC-Specific)
This interview question helps you understand the individual’s bandwidth and what they’re comfortable with.
Why this is important: The right digital marketer should know how to manage budgets at any level. Sometimes, clients with lower budget levels often require more complex strategic work. This is due to their limited budget and what will get them the most for their budget.
2. What Platforms are Your Favorite to Work in, and Why?
Asking this question helps understand the individual’s strengths in certain channels, and where they could use room to grow.
Why this is important: A great digital marketer should be able to comfortably work across platforms and different tools. This is true whether you’re talking about hiring someone for PPC or SEO, or even a cross-channel marketer.
3. How Do You Prioritize Projects or Tasks?
What goes into prioritizing client work versus internal work? What happens when they have multiple tasks with the same deadline?
Why this is important: It’s important to understand how a digital marketer goes about prioritizing projects. I would be hesitant to hire someone with little organization skills or lacking a strong sense of project management systems.
As digital marketers, we’re often thrown many tasks in a day or week, where proper prioritization is crucial. Especially when working in an agency setting, each client sees themselves as the highest priority.
That can’t always be the case.
Some warning signs to look for:
- Is this candidate someone who gets stressed out easily?
- Has the candidate ever used project management software or a task system before?
- Do they have trouble committing or sticking to deadlines?
4. Tell Me About a Past Project That You’re Proud Of?
Try to get the digital candidate to speak more in-depth about their experience. Have them start from the beginning to end.
The goal here is to identify a few key areas:
- The level of detail in their work.
- Their research method style.
- How they collaborated with team members, if at all.
- Are they purely tactical in nature, or can they speak to the strategy behind execution?
Lastly, good digital marketers should be confident in the work that they produce and be able to effectively speak to it.
Strategic Knowledge Questions
It’s not only important to know how to do the job, but more important as to why you’re doing what you’re doing.
The next set of questions allow you to dive deeper into the individual’s mindset and if they can put the strategic pieces together for clients.
5. How Do You Stay up to Date With Industry Changes?
Why this is important: The digital landscape changes every single day.
Understanding what methods a candidate uses to stay in the know is important. If a candidate tells me they’re too busy to read up on trends, I would be concerned.
If someone isn’t staying current in best practices and platform changes, it can be detrimental to client success. You need to have someone on the team who is fully aware of any changes in the industry that could impact performance.
6. Do You Prefer to Work in Siloed Channels or Cross-Channels?
Depending on the role you are hiring for, this is an important question to ask no matter what.
Why it’s important: Whether this is a PPC or SEO-specific role, this question can help identify their level of comfort with other channels.
Does the candidate know how one channel can affect the performance of another channel? Are they proficient in both PPC and Paid Social?
Get them to speak to different channels if possible. This type of question can help identify their knowledge (or lack thereof) in creating or executing strategies across channels.
7. How Do You Explain Complex Answers to a Client or Someone in a C-Suite Role?
Why is this important? This will inevitably happen in any digital marketing role. They should be prepared.
Some warning signs to look for:
- Does the candidate dance around the question?
- Is this candidate someone who might have difficulty thinking on their feet?
- Do they believe in sharing too much data in order to avoid questions?
I’ve made this mistake before in my career and what I can say is that you learn from your mistakes. I often tell my team that sometimes, you need to explain something like you’re talking to a 3rd grader.
When it comes to C-Suite roles or stakeholders, sometimes less is more. They do not need to be weighed down with metrics such as CTR, Avg CPC, etc. Try to answer questions they care about, such as:
- How their ROAS or CPA is performing. If this metric changed, why? (Positive or negative)
- Give high-level overview KPIs whenever possible.
- No matter the metric you’re giving, always explain the “why.”
8. Do You Feel KPIs Should Be the Same Across All Channels, and Why?
Typically I’m not a big fan of trick questions, but I do like to ask this to digital candidates.
Why this is important: The short answer to this is no.
As seasoned digital marketers, we know that no platform or tactic has the same intent, audience, or message. So, why should their KPIs be the same?
For example, in a PPC strategy, someone who is running TOF (top-of-funnel) display ads to a new audience will not perform the same as someone who is searching Google for a product or service.
The intentions of those two tactics are completely different.
In the first example, you are categorizing someone by the audience and interrupting their browsing with an ad.
In the latter example, a user is going out of their way to search. They are expecting you to meet them with a solution to their problem.
So, which one would likely have a higher ROAS or lower CPA? The Search ads, of course!
9. What Type of Experience Do You Have in Building Full-Funnel Strategies for Clients?
If you’re hiring for an entry-level digital position, this question is not necessary.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for someone to fill a position with any sort of strategic knowledge, this is crucial.
Some follow-up questions to ask from this question:
- What channels were used in this strategy?
- How did you decide what to use for this client?
- Did anything underperform from your forecasted expectations? What did you learn from it?
Culture & Fit Questions
This last set of questions, debatably, can be the most important for long-term success. You’re not looking to hire temporarily, you’re hiring for the long haul.
At the end of the day, you want to feel confident in your selection based on their character, the ability to collaborate, and having empathy.
10. What is Your Account Management Style?
Why this is important: How a digital marketer carries out their duties in an account says a lot about them.
Some answers you may get from this question include:
- Do they know how to delegate work to others?
- How quickly do they respond to clients?
- Are they responsive in emergencies?
- How do you keep client work organized? (Similar to a question above.)
11. Do You Perform Better Working Individually, or as a Team?
Everyone performs their duties well in different scenarios. In some cases, digital marketers are required to work alone, or on a team, or both.
Why this is important: This helps uncover how they interact with their peers.
If your role requires that candidate is a true team player, it’s imperative to know how they can work with others.
- Do they get defensive if someone has a different opinion than them?
- Do they delegate too much work to their peers and not pull their weight?
- Are they prone to conflict?
12. How Do You Best Learn?
I personally love asking this question to everyone, entry-level or senior-level.
Just like everyone performs their duties well in a solo or group setting, everyone learns in a different way.
Why it’s important: Can this individual adapt to your company’s training models? Will they require a different way of training than what you’re used to? Are they a visual learner?
Knowing how the candidate grasps new ideas or tactics can help alleviate any training gaps if you are prepared ahead of time.
13. Have You Ever Dealt With an Unhappy Client? How was it Resolved?
This question can go along with the account management style question if needed.
Why this is important: You will deal with an unhappy client in your life, guaranteed.
The right person for this role has to have a level of empathy in dealing with client hardships.
Even if a client is “wrong” in a situation, has the candidate addressed the clients’ feelings in the past? Were they acknowledged? Sometimes they just need to be heard.
Knowing how a candidate handles conflict is important because it can make or break a client relationship.
14. What are You Looking for in This Role?
Why this is important: It’s best to align expectations for the candidate and what you’re offering right away.
This question can also uncover more about the candidate’s motives:
- Do they intend to stay with the company for a long time?
- Are they looking to progress in their career? If so, how can you help them advance?
15. Why Do You Want to Work for Us?
I used to cringe at this question. Now, I find myself asking this to everyone I interview.
Bringing in a new person to an organization costs a lot of time and money. Think of all the training that goes into a new hire, the staffing that’s required to help train and mentor them, etc.
If the candidate doesn’t have a good answer, that’s a red flag. Are they simply looking for a stepping-stone position? (While there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s good to know upfront).
Why it’s important: At the end of the day, do their motives fit in with your company culture and values? If not, they likely aren’t the right candidate.
What’s the Bottom Line?
Digital marketers are in extremely high demand right now. If you’re having a candidate go through three to four interviews with different staff members, they’re likely already looking elsewhere.
Your time as a hiring manager is also precious. By having a predetermined “must-have” list of interview questions for a digital candidate, you can feel more confident in the time you have with them.
Remember, noone is perfect. Try to determine your company’s non-negotiables in hiring the right person.
What key qualities/skills/characteristics do they need to have from this list to make the cut?
Ultimately, by asking these crucial questions, you can feel confident in your decision to move forward with your ideal digital marketer.
- 20 Essential Skills for Digital Marketers
- What Can You Do If Your Dream Marketing Job Turns Out to Be a Nightmare?
- Work Smarter, Not Harder. Learn How to Grow Your Skill Set and Advance Your Digital Marketing Career.
Featured image: tsyhun/Shutterstock