Hiring Your Next Agency Pro: How to Evaluate Applicants Based on Core Skills

By | January 28, 2014
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Chain LinkAs the old adage goes, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” And when it comes to building your marketing team, this proverb offers a valuable truth.

From group dynamic and company culture, to delivery of client services and overall team performance, every employee you hire will impact the organization. That is why every agency, big or small, should establish a solid interview and vetting process to help select the right candidates for its team.

Use the following tips to improve your current application process, and identify ways to enhance the experience for both candidates and your hiring team.

Assess Candidates in Core Skills Required

Whether through personal references or online applications, candidates should be evaluated based on the needs and goals of your organization.

Start by asking yourself, “What does our ideal marketing professional look like?” After you define your persona, use that list of criteria to evaluate all resumes. If in search of a true hybrid marketer, consider the below during your application assessment:

An Analytical Mind

Does the candidate have experience working with and analyzing marketing data? They should. Ask them to rate their proficiency (subjective) or list certifications obtained (i.e. Google Analytics) on your application.

Integrated Campaign Experience

How familiar are they with core marketing areas—brand, content, mobile, search, social, web, etc.? Have they personally been involved in strategy and development?

Touch on the basics, and then look to their resume and the interview for specifics on campaigns they’ve run or worked on. Top candidates not only understand how service areas complement one another, but also have hands-on implementation experience.

Social Media Savviness

Do they manage personal and professional social profiles? What kind of content do they share, and how would their affiliation with your company come across to clients?

Technology Familiarity

Have they worked with the core technologies used to conduct marketing campaigns?

Inquire about their experience working with content management systems (CMS), customer relationship management software (CRM), marketing automation/ lead nurturing tools, or email marketing solutions on your application.

Ask more in-depth, product-related questions during the interview.

Strong Writer

Request writing samples of website copy, blog posts, ebooks, white papers, feature articles and presentations. Keep in mind that selected pieces have most likely been reviewed and edited. An interview-based writing test will give you a raw sample of their abilities.

Attention to Detail

Evaluate how well they followed directions during the application process. Were there simple errors, instructions not followed, misspelled words, incorrect usage of your company name, etc.? Attention to detail is as important now as it will be on the job.

If you are interested in a more streamlined approach, and have marketing automation technology at your disposal, consider automating your HR lead scoring based on these criteria and allocate points accordingly.

Company Engagement

If possible, tie an applicant’s online engagement with your site into their score—numbers of pages viewed (tells you how much research they did), content assets downloaded (shows an interest in your agency’s content) and source (how did they find you?).

In addition, see if they are following your team members on social media, subscribed to your blog, and actively engaging in a natural and professional way. These activities show interest, and are key indicators that someone is focused on getting to know your organization specifically.

If you’re unsure of the specific skills needed to succeed in your organization, check out the PR 20/20 ebook, Evolution of the Prototype Marketer: The Hybrids are Coming.

Create a Candidate Pipeline

Implement this evaluation process, and start to assess applicants based on your defined criteria. When reviewing resumes, extend interview invitations to the candidates that fit (or come close to) your ideal profile, even if you’re not actively hiring.

Having a pool of top-quality candidates on your radar will come in handy in the event you need to bring on additional personnel.

What questions and skill assessments have you found to be the most effective in selecting top-quality candidates from your application process?

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