Focus on specifics when interviewing

Years ago, I was interviewing a marketing candidate. I asked general questions about how she could meet certain growth goals and she talked about the marketing campaigns she would put in place for us, like SEO, social, PPC and more. 

After the meeting, I thought over whether she'd be a good fit. I realized that I had absolutely no idea how well she'd perform. The things I learned were too generic and nebulous to evaluate.

Anyone can suggest SEO, PPC, PR or any of a dozen other marketing strategies. Plus, it turns out that if you ask if someone can do something, 95% of the time they’ll say yes, which is very unhelpful in assessing a candidate.

Now I focus the vast majority of every interview asking about what people have done, rather than what they could do. What’s the best campaign you’ve launched? Was it successful? What metrics did you track? Did you make any mistakes? If so, what were they? What was your biggest management challenge? Then, I do a deep dive into each of these areas and try to understand what they did and how they interacted with others. I found that the great candidates really enjoy these deep dives, since it gives them an opportunity to really show their skill set and experience.

These answers will tell you how the candidates operate in real life. As soon as I started focusing on their past details, I got a better sense of who they were as a candidate and whether they’d be a great fit.
8 responses
Great stuff Joe, and a very good reminder of how to do this. Its funny, I've interviewed so many people that I sometimes forget the best techniques! But I agree with this very much. Thanks for the post.
Appreciate it Brett. You've interviewed way more people than me. If you ever have time, would love to see a post of your lessons.
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