From the Trenches

Answer These 5 Questions to Ace Your Content Marketing Interview

Mike Sweeney | June 17, 2016
5 Interview Questions for Content Marketing Candidates

A couple weeks back, I was a guest on the This Week in Marketing radio show, hosted by Mihali Stavlas. Over the course of an hour, we covered many important aspects of content-driven marketing — its origins, the importance of planning, the intersection of marketing and technology, and ROI measurement.

One of Mihali’s questions for me had to do with whether the composition of the corporate marketing department had changed as a result of the increased focus on content-driven marketing. My answer: The marketing department has changed dramatically, starting at the very top, and then trickling down to mid-level and even entry-level roles. Whether the position contains the word “content” or not, the expectation is that a marketing job candidate understands and embraces content-driven marketing concepts.

I reflected back on this answer yesterday. Given that Right Source is growing and in search of a variety of 99th percentile marketers with a solid understanding of content-driven marketing, I revisited the questions we ask each candidate to determine if he or she truly “gets it.”

It turns out there are five questions whose answers tell me just about everything I need to know about a candidate.

1.What is your definition of content marketing?
I love this open-ended question. If you haven’t considered this topic at some level walking into the interview, that likely means you are either unprepared, have no content marketing experience, or can’t think on your feet. Any of those three can be deal killers.

There’s no single perfect answer to this question, but what I’m looking for is a thoughtful and original reply. Anyone can regurgitate a textbook definition of content marketing, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily understand what is. Especially if the interview is for a senior level position, you better be able to describe the approach in your own words and tell me why you believe your definition is the one I should believe.

2. Why do you think content marketing is so hot?
This question is an evaluation of the depth of your thinking. If your response is something like, “Because the Content Marketing Institute says the average content marketing budget will increase 70 percent in 2016,” you’re cooked. Terrible answer.

If you offer that up, my next question will be, “But why?” If you then say something like, “Because marketers have seen the positive impact of content marketing,” I will again ask, “But why?”

See where I am going here? Don’t just tell me that content marketing is hot, explain why it’s hot, and explain it from a business viewpoint, not just a marketing viewpoint.

3. Which aspect(s) of content marketing are the most important?
This is another test. Unacceptable answers focus on creation, creation, and then more creation. If you only talk about writing your latest blog post, I am falling asleep — and I know you don’t understand what we do.

I don’t care what you call the important facets of content-driven marketing, but you better acknowledge something more than your ability create an eBook, email newsletter, or case study as the linchpin to a successful effort. And that holds for me even if the position is just to write or create. You still need to get the ultimate, big-picture goal, and know that it requires a multi-faceted approach.

4. What makes for a remarkable piece of content?
Now I am focused on creation. The quality of the content matters, so what is it that makes one piece of content stand out from another? Is it the structure? Is it the format? Is it the writing? Yes.

Why does so much content get lost in the online sea of mediocrity? Will you be able to truly help our company create original work that doesn’t get lost?

Your answer tells me if you’ve actually been in the game or not, and at what level.

5. Provide an example of a company that is doing content marketing exceptionally well.
Dare I say another deal killer?

One of the Right Source core values is to question everything. If you are not curious enough to even have explored some of the better examples of content marketing done right, you probably don’t care enough.

And while I totally embrace an ego-driven answer like, “I think my current company does it right,” that’s not enough (also, if they’re truly killing it, why are you leaving?). People and companies that want to improve and grow are always looking at examples of who else is doing things in a better way.

Five questions, five answers, and I pretty much know all that I need to know. Will you pass through to the next stage of the recruitment funnel? You have 20 minutes to prove it.

If you can answer these five questions with confidence, Right Source would love to talk to you about one of our open positions, or perhaps one we haven’t even created yet.

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