Interview Questions for a First Marketer

I have a bunch of questions for Product Designers that I have evolved over time. However, I don’t think I have ever done the same exercise for Marketing. The context is the “first marketer” in a company. At Marketo, this was Kelly Abner. He did an awesome job and helped the product development by being his usual brutally honest self.

So I’ve been thinking about questions I could ask. Not all of these will end up in the interview, but here are some:

Topic 1: Traffic Cop

“Are you aware of the Marketo Traffic Cop? Do you like it?”

If they indicate any tolerance for Traffic Cop, I flip the table over and tell them to GTFO. Kidding, partially. Anyone who likes traffic cop is a Nazi. Kidding, not really.

Topic 2: Tactic Ranking

I put 10 tactics on pieces of paper and ask them to organize them in order or priority and explain the thinking. It’s interactive. Also there is a blank tactic you can fill in! Ok, it’s not “Secret Hitler”, but its different at least.

Topic 3: Best and Worst

“What’s the best/worst marketing you have ever done?  Why?”

The reason I ask is to see how much pride/excitement they show and also how much self-awareness. We all have bad ideas sometimes. It’s good to be able to face them and learn from them.

Topic 4: Text Stack

“What is your go-to tech stack?”

Marketing automation is just one of many tools. Do they pick old-school technologies or stay on the cutting edge. The stack they choose also indicates their priorities.

Topic 5: Culture Fit

“What’s it like to work with you?”

Over the past few years, this has become the number one concern for me. I want to get along with people and collaborate with them.

Often people tell me that I ask questions they haven’t heard before. I don’t know why this is the case. I don’t think my questions are that odd. Maybe everyone else is asking the same dumb questions, who knows? Interviewing should be an enjoyable experience. Here in Silicon Valley, talent is in demand, so it’s crucial to sell candidates just as much as to evaluate them.

If you think your job in an interview is to evaluate the candidate, you are probably not going to get the best people. Make it fun for them, make it informative for them and make sure you get the feel of what it is like to work with them.

If you are a marketer in an interview with me, you can say the word “Sassafras” and I will give you 1 extra point. Good Luck.

The Care Pie

We all care about lots of decisions. However, it’s not healthy to argue about every single decision. In fact, it’s not healthy to argue about 90% of the decisions that are made.

I talk to people about the Decision-Care Pie. This is a pie-chart that has two parts.

The first part is the 10%. These are the decisions that you truly should argue about. You should be passionate and defend your position. I sometimes call this “Using your chips”.

The other part is 90%. These are the decisions that you should NOT argue about. You should let other people decide. Do not get passionate about this. Ask for others to help decide.

To reiterate, I am saying that 9 out of 10 decisions should be decided by other people. And 1 out 10 times, you should stand your ground and say, “This is important to me and I believe I know the right way to do it.

Another way of saying all of this is “Pick your battles”. However, there is no pie chart in that phrase.  I believe that most people remember things better when there is a visual component to it.

Anyway bottom line: we argue too much and we all have opinions that are too strong. We need to chill out and only use our passion for really important things. Like 10% of the time is appropriate. Not the other way around.