1. “Why do you love marketing?”

Or, “Which aspects of our business are you passionate about?” You want to hire someone who’s both qualified and has the desire to do the work. Otherwise, why would they work for you instead of the company next door?

Part of their answer will lie in their body language and enthusiasm. The other part will lie in how concrete their answer is. Get at the details by asking a follow-up question, like: “Let’s say you’re at home, kicking around, and doing something related to marketing. What is it that you’re doing?” Perhaps they’re reading their five favorite marketing sites, or analyzing traffic patterns of websites for fun, or writing in their personal blog, or optimizing their LinkedIn profile. Whatever it is, you want to be sure they’re deeply passionate about the subject matter you’d hire them for.

  1. “We have a new product coming out in three months. What would you do to launch it?”

This’ll show you how well a candidate understands all the different tactics of inbound marketing and how to tie them together into a holistic plan. It’ll also give you insight into how creative they are and whether they can come up with new and interesting ways to do marketing.

  1. What is the difference between marketing and selling?

Both large and small companies experience internal conflicts between the sales group and marketing group stemming from differing opinions about the role of marketing vs. the role of sales. Marketing groups tend to see sales groups as a delivery mechanism at the end of a marketing process. Sales groups tend to see marketing groups as providing a service that helps sales groups to sell more easily.

Both viewpoints depend upon perspective. If you’re in marketing, it may be difficult to perceive the complexity and multiple steps involved in selling. Similarly, those in sales are so focused on “making the numbers” that it’s difficult to appreciate the way that marketing has laid groundwork.

Regardless of which viewpoint is “correct,” the conflicts between marketing and sales groups can reduce a company’s productivity.

Take, for example, the generation of sales leads, a common marketing function. According to a recent study of 600 sales and marketing groups conducted by the research firm CSO Insights, less than a quarter of sales professionals believe that they’re getting fully qualified leads from their marketing group.

As with most organizational conflicts, a sense of mutual respect is the key to building better working relationships.

One of the benefits of this question is that it helps to assess whether the candidate possesses that fundamental sense of respect and will therefore be able to work well with your sales team. If the candidate is dismissive of the sales group (e.g., says something like “marketing drives sales”), he or she will probably increase rather than dampen any conflicts that exist between your sales and marketing groups. Ideally, you want a candidate who understands the contributions of both groups to the overall success of your company.

  1. What is your largest responsibility in your current/last role?

The next questions can gauge how driven and motivated the candidate is. Every marketing leader wants to stack the team with passionate employees—try to get a feel for what kind of go-getter your candidate is.

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