In my current role as Director of Services for Hanapin Marketing, one of the key challenges I face is interviewing potential candidates for various PPC jobs. Hiring is critical because as the saying goes “get the people right and everything else takes care of itself.” Consequently, hiring the wrong people leads to negative consequences such as inferior account performance, lower morale, client churn, and an increased inability to hit both departmental and company goals.

Based on hard lessons I’ve learned throughout the interviewing process, I’m going to share methods I’ve recently instituted that help to better assess potential candidates’ skill sets, which hopefully increases the chance of making better hiring decisions.

Define Your Need

Before speaking to any candidate it’s important to spend a great deal of time outlining and clarifying the key responsibilities that need to be addressed during the hiring process. By clearly understanding the responsibilities of the position, it’s easier to ask the necessary questions that uncovers whether an applicant is a right fit for the job.

How do we specifically define what the actual need is?  Below are some sample discovery questions I ask to help uncover answers to this tough question:

  • Will the position need to be tactical or strategic in nature?
  • Will this position be client facing or providing behind the scenes support?
  • Is this position responsible for driving revenue?

Having a clear vision for the position you are trying to fill helps build a profile for the type of skills and experiences needed for a potential candidate to thrive in their new role. Hypothetically speaking, let’s say a need has been defined on your PPC team for an account manager. The role is responsible for speaking with clients, creating strategy, and providing solid insights and takeaways. Based on this overall need, it’s much easier to determine what specific skills and experiences the candidate must possess. Once those needs are defined, begin preparing questions that can help uncover whether or not the person being interviewed is truly a best fit for the job.

Interviewing The Candidate

Once the need of the position has been defined and the right group of candidates have been recruited, it’s time to sit down and interview them. At Hanapin, we’re fortunate to have a robust recruiting process and talented full time recruiter. If you don’t have a full-time recruiter you’ll have to complete this step prior to beginning the interview process.

Interviewing candidates is serious business so make sure to do plenty of homework on the people you’re going to talk to. I begin prepping for interviews by reviewing the applicant’s resume and checking out their LinkedIn profile. Conducting this prep work helps me prepare the questions that need to be asked. Typically, I want to learn whether candidates are culture fits, they have the skills needed to do the job, and whether they’ll love the job if hired. In recent interviews, I’ve asked candidates questions such as:

  • What motivates you?
  • What type of company culture do you thrive in?
  • Tell me your process for creating strategy.
  • What’s your main skill gap?

I also want to learn if a candidate has a strong sense of self awareness and demonstrates a high degree of honesty. I’ll ask questions like:

  • Tell me about a time you failed at something and what did it feel like?
  • Tell me how you handled your last mistake.

However, in addition to prepping the questions that need to be asked, I also game out the answers I expect to hear in response to those questions. The answers a candidate supplies provide tremendous insights into whether someone is going to be a good fit for the position. If the answers greatly deviate from what I expect them to be, I’m comfortable with the conclusion that the candidate is not a right fit and won’t move forward in the hiring process.

Final Thoughts

Interviewing is not an exact science. It’s possible to ask all the right questions, get the answers you are looking for, and still not be comfortable that the candidate is a right fit for your organization. However, with proper preparation and clearly defining needs, you increase the chances of conducting successful interviews that lead to positive hiring decisions.