October 24, 2019 | Blog

Raise your hand if you love conducting interviews. I know your hand didn’t go up, because hiring the right talent can be a painstaking process. Hiring the right martech talent is its own unique challenge, considering the technical expertise needed for the role.

Over the last five years, marketing automation has grown into a $1.65 billion industry with over 142,000 businesses relying on it to run and monitor many of their marketing efforts. With no plans for the industry to slow down any time soon, the need for talented martech professionals continues to rise. Martech is constantly and quickly evolving and the skills needed to perform well in the roles are relatively new.

While it’s not always common to outsource to another company to conduct interviews on your behalf, I’ve helped clients on multiple occasions because my personal experience in their instance allows me to ask more pointed questions to potential candidates.

This approach makes sense for many companies because directors or managers in the marketing department aren’t necessarily on the front lines of what’s happening in the tool or the end user challenges that are bound to occur. So if you have the option, it’s best to have someone familiar with working in the trenches brought into the interview process.

Marketing automation roles aren’t easy to fill and require flexibility. Plus, you will always have candidates who know the right buzzwords to say – but begin to stutter when you get into the nitty-gritty portion of the interview. That’s exactly why I’m sharing my hands-on experience and expertise for anyone looking to hire martech talent.

Let’s get into the questions that will help you determine if your candidate has the technical know-how to get the job done.

Technical expertise matters

  • What key areas do you prioritize when determining how to optimize an instance?
  • Explain processes you have implemented for data management across systems (who would you work with, how do you test, etc.)
  • What is your plan for incorporating system enhancements without disrupting business processes?

While it’s not everything, technical expertise is major part of any martech role. Try to stay away from questions like “Tell me about what you’ve done in Marketo, Salesforce, etc.” Everyone can toot their own horn about their accomplishments. Focus more on projects they’ve implemented, difficulties they’ve experienced during that process, and what they’ve learned from it.

When I ask a technical question and they can’t give me a response about a basic functionality in the system that tells me they aren’t as well versed in the tool as they tried to look on their application.

If you have time to do a skills assessment for this role, that’s great, but I understand that most people hire for this role because they lost someone and need to quickly replace them. If someone is really good at this role, they will hold it for a long time, you won’t see as many jobs listed on their resume. That’s not a golden rule, but it’s something to consider.

When you hire someone for this type of role, it usually carries a probationary period. You can easily recognize in the first 60-90 days whether someone will be a good fit or not. To ensure candidates are technically competent, I have printed out requests for someone I was interviewing and asked them to provide recommendations based on the project to see if they knew how to scope the project.

But teamwork matters, too!

  • With the various teams that are involved, there can be overlap or delays in meeting timelines. How do you prioritize projects and determine when a timeline or assigned team member may need to be adjusted to complete a project?
  • How do you absorb knowledge? How do you learn how to share knowledge with your team to ensure you’re aligned?

Now that we’ve got the technical aspects out of the way, let’s talk about how you see if they’re a good fit for your company culture. Culture fit is real ya’ll. In an Airtasker survey of over 800 people, respondents cited personality issues as one of the top reasons they fired an employee. When you directly ask someone if they are a team player, they’ll instinctively answer with a yes.

The way a candidate responds to teamwork questions tells you a lot about how they’ll fit into your team and whether or not they prefer to be an individual contributor or work at the leadership level. If they respond with too many “I” answers, that’s a bad sign, showing they focus on their individual contributions versus that of your team. You have to read between the lines to see how they’ll collaborate or if you’ll have problems getting them on the same page with your other administrators.

You want someone who isn’t solely focused on technical aspects of the role. Within a marketing department you have digital and marketing automation – but you also have demand generation, content developers, website, and the list goes on – there are a lot of different teams that connect to ensure your platforms are running smoothly. They can have a great technical skillset but if they can’t get along with your existing team, you’ll run into issues. In the long run, their inability to collaborate will cause more harm than good.

Be leery of candidates that answer teamwork questions by resorting back to their technical expertise. It’s a red flag when they can’t tell you how they’ve engaged with their team and worked to collaborate to fix or implement something.

They also need to know how to tackle challenges

  • How comfortable are you with implementing and managing advanced functions within Marketo? (i.e. Lead Scoring, Nurture, etc.)
  • How would you rate your expertise with troubleshooting Marketo and SFDC integrations?
  • The team that supports marketing resides in multiple time zones and locations. Do you feel that it will be a challenge to juggle schedules / personalities when working on various tasks? Why or why not?
  • Can you give me an example of when an issue arose within Marketo and how you resolved it?

You’ve made sure they have the technical chops and can mesh with your team. Now it’s time to see if they can handle pressure.  A candidate’s answers to questions surrounding troubleshooting and recognizing problems can tell you everything you need to know about them.

Prime example: when I ask them a question where I would expect to have additional information that I haven’t given them yet, because again, I’ve been purposely vague, I’m waiting to see if they will know to ask me for that additional information or if they’ll just spit out a response. They need to be able to ask the necessary questions to show they’re being strategic about implementation.

When they’re too enthusiastic, telling rosy stories of how everything has always been perfect for them, I smell deceit. Perfection doesn’t exist. Make sure they’re able to give you real-life examples of challenges and how they’ve overcome them.

Post interview

Whether you’re conducting interviews on behalf of someone else or not, it’s always good to collaborate with everyone who has been part of the interview process. Rather than provide the questions I’ve asked and the interviewees answer, I give feedback specific to what I’ve gleamed about their technical skills, character, and whether or not I think they would be a fit and why.

I also list out any red flags. Keep in mind that just because you recognize red flags, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be considered for the job – it’s just something to be aware of. Look for candidates who take ownership when you ask them to talk about a weakness.

Final takeaway

Interviewing is nerve-racking! Try to make it feel like a conversation rather than an interview because people are much more open about sharing information when they don’t feel pressured.

It’s no secret that a skills gap exists when it comes to martech as the roles are specialized and fairly new. With the right strategy, a bit of patience and a balanced focus between technical skills, teamwork, and overcoming challenges, you’ll hire a teammate you can count on for years to come.


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Ashley Cruz

October 24, 2019,   Blog

As Marketing Automation Supervisor, Ashley Cruz bridges the gap between sales and marketing teams by offering customized strategies and best practices that meet individual goals and foster team collaboration.


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