We’re often asked for a list of the best questions to use when interviewing Chief Marketing Officers or other senior marketing candidates. Given that marketing as a discipline is so broad across brand, digital, CRM, social media, paid advertising, content (and many more), you’ll need to consider your own business marketing objectives and what skills, experience, and knowledge you need from this position, to achieve them.
What competencies should a Chief Marketing Officer have?
The first port of call is to understand the business objectives and how this filters down to the marketing objectives and tasks. Once you understand this, you’ll know more about the skills and attributes required from this candidate to make an impact to the business. Are you looking for the CMO to change the positioning of the brand? To double the lead generated through the website? To overhaul the content plan? To oversee the sales and commercial functions? If you are a start-up, do they have previous experience within this field?
Answering these questions, and consulting with the junior members of the marketing team, will help you to create a skills or competency matrix. This matrix can be used to score CMO candidates throughout the interview process, giving you an easy comparison tool to help with decision marketing.
It’s also important to remember that you’ll need to take into account the personal attributes of the potential CMO. This could include personality, cultural fit (or non-fit, which could be an objective) into the business, and the values they demonstrate at work. The CMO should be able to show that they have a considered vision for the business, as well as personal confidence and the ability to make decisions and influence others.
How do I attract a great Chief Marketing Officer?
It’s important to remember that an interview is an opportunity for both parties to understand if the fit is right. A candidate at this Chief Marketing Officer level, will also be assessing the business too – everything from the package and benefits to cultural fit, to the reputation of the brand. You’ll often be competing for the people you like best, perhaps they will also have a couple of other opportunities they’re evaluating too.
So, it’s critical that you have your ‘employer brand’ well defined, showcasing your strategy for recruiting the right employees for the right roles, and keeping employees engaged and retained. This can often be the deal-breaker for senior candidates.
We always recommend that at the beginning of the first session, you take a few minutes to frame your business strategy, what’s in the roadmap and the part this hire will play in the journey from A to B. Always work on the assumption that you’re meeting your perfect candidate – it’s critical that they understand the strategy and what’s exciting about your business.
The bulk of the interview will then involve talking through the candidate’s background, understanding their experience and assessing against competencies. Towards the end of the session, if you like the candidate, always ask them how they feel about the opportunity, the good and the bad. You may be able to give them comfort around any areas of concern and increase their engagement.
What interview questions should I ask a Chief Marketing Officer?
Here is our guide to the best Chief Marketing officer interview questions. This isn’t a comprehensive list, and you should add specific competency questions but this list should offer some guidance and inspiration when interviewing.
- What are your reasons for wanting to leave your current role?
- What excites you about our business?
- What might you suggest are your key strengths as a CMO?
- What areas of marketing do you specialise in? What areas need improvement?
- Tell me about an achievement at work that you are proud of and why? What were the results?
- What is your most impactful initiative as a marketing leader? What impact did it make?
- How do you measure effectiveness of your work in your current role? What KPI’s and data points do you look for?
- When starting a new role, how do you climatise quickly to get up and running?
- What other business areas do you have experience in?
- What is your vision for this brand?
- What is the first task you’d undertake as CMO?
- What 3 objectives would you create for the marketing team?
- What do you like v don’t like about our brand / marketing efforts? What improvements do you see?
- How would you measure success of marketing in this business?
Stakeholder Manager / Relationships / Leadership
- What is your leadership style?
- What makes you a great leader?
- How do you communicate well with your team and peers?
- How you motivate other people? Give an example.
- How do you manage agencies and external stakeholders?
- How would you manage a team that wasn’t meeting objectives?
- Tell me about an instance where you said ‘no’ to an idea – how did you do it and why?
- Tell me about a time you had to influence your peers / CEO?
- Give examples of when you have successfully managed a remote team?
- Give an example where you felt passionately about something (eg a business case) but struggled to convince others?
Failure / Self Criticism / Self Awareness
- Tell me about a mistake you made and how you handled it?
- Give an instance where you have had a dispute at work with your peers. How did you handle it?
- Give an example of a time where you didn’t meet objectives. What could you have done differently?
- Give an example where you had to acknowledge you did not have the best idea.
Roadmap, Prioritisation & Decision Making
- How do you develop a business case?
- How do you prioritise effectively?
- What steps do you take to put together a marketing strategy?
- How do you measure performance?
- Tell me about a time where you used data or customer insight to make a decision?
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Intelligent People are a specialist recruitment agency within marketing, product and ecommerce. Since 2002, we’ve helped a broad range of companies, from global blue chips to the most exciting scale-ups, to hire marketing experts that build effective strategies. If you’d like to talk about how we could help you, contact us today.