Four Approaches to Find the Right Digital Marketing Specialist

Recruitment is both a time consuming and critical task for business owners and hiring managers to get right (though recruitment management software can certainly help!) ;and hiring well for a digital marketing position is particularly tricky. Digital Marketing is a relatively new discipline in the scheme of business history, so often a recruiter or a hiring manager might have little to no experience in the area, so any candidate throwing out the right digital marketing buzzwords and jargon can seem like they know their stuff, but when it comes to walking the walk, they can end up letting you down.

The wrong hire can cost you dearly – not just financially, but in excessive training time and reduced productivity, not to mention frustrations for team culture and morale.

There are some questions you can ask and some things you can do, however, to help weed out the wrong candidates and get the right person for the job.

1.   Ask Work History Questions

Finding the right person for a digital marketing specialist position usually requires reviewing a lot of resumes. But don’t ignore the resume once you’ve started the interview. Make sure you ask detailed questions about your candidate’s work history.

Questions like, “What was your first big project?” or “Can you tell me about a time you used analytics to solve a problem or discover an insight, and how did you use that insight?” Asking these kinds of questions helps you go beyond just learning when and where someone previously worked and instead gets to what they learned while they were there.

Scanning their education history is of equal importance, particularly in a digital marketing role. As the discipline is so new, few people with a substantial number of years of experience in business would have initially studied digital marketing for their undergraduate degree – most would have made the choice to study a postgraduate or masters in digital marketing only after realising the need for these skills as their career progressed. Asking “what made you pursue further education in digital marketing” will show you where a candidate recognised the weaknesses in their skillset and took action to address their shortcomings for the benefit of their organisation or their own career.

2.   Ask Role-Specific Questions

Ask very specific questions about the role you’re hiring for.

If you’re hiring for an email marketing position, for example, ask the candidate about list management, subject line A/B testing, and CTAs.

If you’re looking for a social media specialist, ask about accounts that they’ve managed and make sure to check those out if they can give you access.

Are you filling a lead generation role? Find out what marketing channels the candidate has used, whether they specialised in digital B2B or B2C marketing, and what metrics they used to track their progress.

You also can and should ask questions with a different focus.

For example, ask how the candidate would convince the CEO of a client company that they need digital marketing.

This will show you their ability to justify their job and present the value of the work they do – or lack of it. This is very important if they ever communicate with clients. Even if they won’t, their answer will also tell you about their motivation level and how much they believe in their own work and the role they’re applying for.

Digital Marketing

3.   Ask Creative, Open-Ended Questions

A digital marketing specialist position requires a creative approach as well as role-specific knowledge. Try using creative, open-ended questions during the interview to learn if the candidate is a good culture fit for your organisation. These types of questions could be related to the digital marketing field overall, or specific to a sub-field like social media or SEO. Or they could be something completely different.

You could try asking a candidate the question, “What do you do when you’re running late?”

Of course, there is always the famous, “Tell me a little bit about yourself.”

4.   Test the Candidates with Sample Tasks

If your candidate can’t complete a sample task within their field, present, and explain it to you, that could indicate either lack of ability or lack of communication skills.

Tasks that get to the point of SEO, PPC, social media management or lead generation will demonstrate their technical expertise and hard skills. These tasks will also show you their ability to communicate, justify their approach, and answer questions about their work.

In short, can the candidate for the position complete a task, showing that they are competent at it, and can they explain the overall process to the client?

Sample tasks for candidates could include keyword research for an SEO account. Give the candidate a draft of some website copy and ask them to conduct keyword research through Google’s Keyword Planner. Then instruct them to optimise the sample web copy. This will demonstrate their approach to SEO and allow you to review their actual work.

If your candidate is applying for a PPC-heavy role, ask the candidate to review an existing account and make optimisation recommendations; or give them access to a dummy account and ask them to structure a new account from scratch – testing their ability at segmenting keywords, searcher intent, drafting ad copy, and managing bidding.

Social media responsibilities will require completely different sample tasks, but they can be relatively easy to create. First, select one of your favorite Facebook or Twitter brand accounts and ask the candidate to evaluate what their goals might be, the tone the brand is using, and their strategy for engaging with followers. If your social media candidate will be creating content, ask them to write a few example posts based on the research they’ve done. You can go as far as setting up dummy advertising or social media accounts and asking the candidate to complete several criteria, such as gaining followers or setting up an ad campaign.

This is perhaps one of the most important parts of the selection process, as it demonstrates the candidate’s hard skills which make up the position that you’re hiring for.