3 Questions to ask before Hiring Your Next Email Marketing Superstar
"An email marketer needs to be fearless. In the world of digital marketing, email is an extreme sport. It takes guts to stare down the send button and hit it. Not everyone is nervy enough to do that day in and day out."
Let’s face it, good email marketers are a rare breed and finding good email people can be difficult. I have had success in finding a few really good people. I thought I’d share three of my favorite behavioral interview questions I have developed.
These questions show how the candidate deals with real world problems similar to those faced in an email position.
An email marketer needs to be fearless. In the world of digital marketing, email is an extreme sport. It takes guts to stare down the send button and hit it. Not everyone is nervy enough to do that day in and day out. No matter how long I’ve been doing email, hitting send is still exciting and nerve-wracking.
Email marketers are digital’s first responders. On call 24/7. Whenever there is a recall, missed goal, announcement, natural disaster, or any other kind of emergency, it falls on email to get the word out. It’s the first line because it is the most effective channel in existence. You have be willing to accept that sometimes you have to cancel plans, or stop by Thursday drinks just to say ‘hi’ because you have to go back to the office to finish coding. Sober. Ok, mostly sober: have beer for god sake, don’t be that guy.
So first, how does the candidate handle stress? Email has a uniquely high level of stress, a bit beyond normal job stress. I like to make sure that the candidate can deal.
Can you tell me about a time when you had to hit an important deadline, and didn’t think you could meet it?
Here, we’re looking to see how the candidate deals with a tough stressful situation commonly found in email marketing. Was the candidate successful? Did they give up, put in the extra hours or seek help? How did the candidate process the experience? What did they learn from it?
Next, I like to find out how the candidate is going to play with others and how they influence other groups.
Can you walk me through a situation where you’ve had to influence another person or team to make your work a priority?
Does the candidate build relationships or trade favors? Complain to a higher up? You want the email team to be well represented, so it’s important to have someone that can advocate for your team in a style complimentary to the organization.
And of course the mistakes. Email is brutally unforgiving. There is no such thing as a little mistake in email. Every mistake is amplified by hundreds, thousands, and often millions of times. A misspelling shows up on some annoying grammar Nazi’s twitter feed or blog. A forgotten line in terms or conditions may end-up costing the company thousands. A broken link can tank sales. It may not even be your fault. But, yes it’s always your fault.
Anyone that is in email has made a doozy or six. And that feeling: That icy sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach once it hits you. Panic, embarrassment, and guilt all washing over you, drowning you. It’s too late, it out, it has opens, clicks, and it’s irreversible. It’s not that bad….it’s bad. Not everyone can learn and rebound from this. So the next question:
Tell me about a work-related blunder you made that had an impact on others and how did you resolved the situation?
The first thing I want to hear is that the candidate explained openly and honestly what went wrong to the impacted party. It takes courage and humility to own up to a mistake.
When I was Email Marketing Manager at new job, I sent the wrong offer to the wrong list. I realized it seconds after I sent the email. I was in a cold panic. I got up and pulled the campaign owner out of a meeting and explained what I did. She was mad. Later that day I had to explain it again to the director of marketing, the VP of marketing and the CEO – in separate meetings. I was sure I was going to be fired before the day was done. Thankfully, I wasn’t fired and instead received a nice ‘keep your chin up’ note from the VP. I was embarrassed. Still thinking about it, a few years later, makes me cringe.
The last thing I want to hear is that the candidate tried to hide the error so no one found out. Or worse, tell me they got away with one.
I want to see too that they learned from the error. In my example, I reviewed my pre-launch checklist and made adjustments so that the error would never happen again, and it didn’t. That’s what I want to see from a candidate.
Your ideal email marketing candidate will be able to field these questions easily and may even enjoy answering. Ask yourself how you would answer these questions. I know I would knock it out of the park, but I’m on a project right now. ;)
Great article Sol! #2 is the big one for me, followed by a close second with #3. Relationships are the #1 influencer in the workplace, with vendors, etc. Hiring someone that doesn't whine, but gets things done by building core relationships is key and makes things happen - and keeps teams happy to deal with the email team!
#3 - always, always tell the truth, no matter how awful. Spot on.