Hiring any employee for your business is both exciting and daunting. The idea of delegating responsibility to someone who didn’t birth the business with you is one that many entrepreneurs struggle with. Finding the right person, however, makes this transition significantly easier.
Marketing is often one of the first positions that startups fill, as it is key to the success of any business and requires focus. Passing this responsibility on to someone who is experienced generally results in a surge in exposure and revenue.
Marketers are not rare, but finding a quality marketer who can thrive in a small business environment is not always easy. These seven interview questions will help you assess whether the candidate you are considering is suitable to help you build your business.
1. “Tell me in your own words why our company does what it does?”
Other than you, there is no one that needs to better understand your vision than your head of marketing. This person needs to internalize your brand and work every day to push it forward. With this question you will get an idea of how much research the candidate has done about your company, how well he understands what you do, and whether your vision has resonated with him.
2. “Have you ever worked for a small business before?”
Working in a large corporate marketing department is extremely different to working for an SME. Prior experience with this size of business implies that the candidate understands that he will be highly strategic at times and rolling up his sleeves with operations at other times.
3. “How involved have you been in [PR/digital/media booking/distribution/x/y/z]?”
Fill in the blanks with the skills that are relevant for your business. In traditional marketing departments, brand management teams usually rely on specialized internal team members for PR, digital, media booking, distribution, and in store marketing. This reliance leads to candidates from this type of background not being familiar with the detailed ins and outs of these elements of the marketing mix. You cannot immediately eliminate a candidate from the running on the basis of their background, however, and instead should try to understand if she has been involved heavily enough with her colleagues to have more than a basic understanding of those disciplines. While I was a brand manager at Beiersdorf, there was a team of dedicated colleagues and an external agency responsible for public relations, and yet I was regularly involved in the creation of press kits, writing of press releases, publication targeting, and organization of press launches.
4. “How strong is your network of media contacts?”
As the company’s sole marketer, this person will be responsible for public relations or liaising with a PR firm. A network of media contacts will then be a definite value add and help increase your company’s exposure.
5. “What is the smallest annual marketing budget you have successfully worked with?”
Marketing with a small budget requires a HUGE shift in mindset when you come from a multinational corporate. Prior to starting my own business, I was signing purchase orders for thousands of dirhams on a daily basis. The amount of money I spent in one week on the brands I managed was more than the annual budget I allocated for my startup. Figuring out how to promote my website on a shoestring budget was one of the toughest things I had to learn, and hiring someone who already has experienced that will be beneficial for your business.
6. “How would you rate your multitasking skills?”
This relates to question 2. An employee responsible for all your business’s marketing is going to have a LOT on her plate. Multitasking is a crucial skill to possess.
7. “What do you do in your free time?”
This may seem quite random, but it actually points to how much this person invests in himself. Marketers are creative people, and those who have hobbies outside of their jobs tend to be more inspired and more inspiring.
Hiring a marketer can provide a huge boost for your business, but it is not a task to be done quickly. Take your time to find the right person who can represent your brand well and love it the way that you do. When you do, you will find that letting go of some responsibilities won’t be as difficult.
What questions did you ask when you hired your first marketing employee?