Creative Staffing on Your Radar?
Is creative staffing becoming more of a priority? You’re not alone. Many companies are realizing the power of their digital strategies lies in balancing technical skills with creative skills. Some candidates have both, but it’s more likely you’ll find candidates who are stronger in one side of the coin over the other. They are often placed on teams to work together, where the creative comes up with a unique way to reach the customer and the tech side pushes it live. Together, they partner to deliver a final product that is both effective at grabbing and retaining the audience’s attention and provides a strong user experience.
Finding creatives, particularly with an eye on leveraging their creativity in the technical space, is no easy feat. Digital Marketing Institute reports these are among the most challenging positions to fill. It’s a relatively new demand and there’s simply not a whole lot of digital creative marketers out there…yet.
The push for digital marketers comes from multiple realizations. First, consumers are a finicky bunch. They’re also impatient and demanding. We say that with the utmost respect because we are consumers, too. Thanks to the Amazon Effect, we all expect to find what we want immediately and have it in hand near immediately. We want an easy experience that transcends devices. The omnichannel expectation is putting pressure on companies to constantly deliver a streamlined, pleasant, consistent, engaging experience on their websites and mobile apps.
They must also consider SEO to ensure their brand is ranking at the top of Google searches, and be proficient in all things social media. This requires digital marketers to keep up with the ever-changing Google algorithms and use the latest and greatest tools to gather plenty of data to optimize their campaigns.
The Institute says it takes many creative specialties to design the ideal website, including SEO experts, content specialists, graphic designers, PPC specialists, brand managers, social media executives, and data analysts. How do you hire for these positions if you’re fortunate enough to have found some viable candidates? We’ll give you a few revealing questions you may want to add to your interviews.
Questions to Ask Creative Staffing Candidates
Congratulations! You’ve found some digital marketers to interview to fill your creative staffing positions. Whether you spent the time to find them yourself or you hired a digital staffing agency to bring them to you, the interview process is all on you. You want to ask the right questions that fit the creative staffing position you’re trying to fill. You also want to ask the questions that will reveal the character and work ethic of your candidate to ensure they’ll fit in with the culture of your organization. Here’s a list of a few to consider:
Describe an instance where you and/or your team failed to achieve an intended goal and what did you learn from it?
Forbes says the most important question an interviewer can ask is “what have you failed at lately?” It’s a difficult question to answer because it requires the candidate to admit they’ve failed and then discuss it, even if they can’t yet see the wisdom learned from that failure. But, it also gives the hiring manager excellent insight into “a candidates ability and willingness to innovate and adapt accordingly.” It also forces the candidate to rehash their mistakes while providing a good understanding of how they manage failure, how motivated they were to get back on course, and any ideas they may have had to turn that failure into innovation.
Describe an opportunity you have had to bring a new idea to the table – what was the idea, how did you envision it delivering value to the brand, and what were the results?
This question helps you identify several characteristics in the candidate. First, are they a visionary? You want innovators on your team, not just task-doers. Second, it gives you insight into what they value. Did they consider the company’s core business strategies and are they able to align their idea to that strategy? Third, how did they execute their idea? Ideation is fantastic, but it’s nothing without execution. Did they see the project through and did they achieve their intended results? If not, follow up with asking them why and what they learned from it.
How do you cope with change in strategy, scope of project or timeline?
Change is inevitable. Projects will almost always hit a roadblock, either with funding, timing, scope or deliverables. Having creative staff who understand that change is part of the job is critical. Even better, you want team members who can turn change into success, refining projects during the iterative design process to accommodate change. They aren’t frustrated to the point where they begin to disrupt the good mojo on the team. They are cheerleaders who can encourage others to believe change is an opportunity to create better products and services.
What digital marketing campaigns have you worked on and what tools did you use?
This is a no-brainer question, even if they’ve spelled it out on their resume. You want to get them to describe the campaign and the technology they used to deliver it. You’re also trying to determine what digital marketing experience they have – is it analytics and data? SEO and blog content? Social media marketing? Email automation? Graphic design? Content curation? See if you can get them to go into detail about any or all they’ve done and the types of technology they used to enable them.
What is your favorite way to work: solo or on a team, why, and do you consider yourself a leader or a team player?
Here’s where you get to the work habits to determine how well the candidate will fit into your culture. Creative staffing isn’t just about their experience. It’s just as important to find candidates who will value their teammates, work well with others, take instruction when warranted, and be a leader when necessary. A recent ZipRecruiter article discussed this topic, saying, “You want employees who are like-minded with the values and best practices by which your company wants to be identified…Hiring talent that doesn’t align with your company culture creates personal conflict within the employee that will no doubt impact their work and those they work with.”
What are some of the strategies you’d recommend to increase traffic to a website and drive people to download a mobile app?
Now we’re ready to get to their knowledge about current SEO trends and how mobile apps should be designed and marketed. While these are only a couple of the digital marketing channels they may work on, it’s a good start. You can interchange these particular projects with any that are more common to your organization, but you get the idea. This question will also help you understand how their mind works – how organized their thoughts are, how confident they are in their proposed strategies, and whether they are innovative and willing to take risks. It’s also a discreet way of finding out how much they actually know. You’d be surprised how many creative staffing candidates apply for jobs they don’t fully understand. If they don’t have a basic understanding of SEO, responsive design, data analysis and demand generation, you’re going to be spending part of your onboarding budget on extensive training that could be avoided with someone with a strong background in these (and more) skills.
Don’t Rule Out a Digital Marketing Staffing Agency
These are only a sample of the kinds of questions hiring managers should ask candidates when filling creative staffing positions. Keep in mind, you likely will need to hire more than one digital marketer. If one candidate is strong in certain areas but weaker in others, you may not want to let them go simply because they can’t do it all. It may be easier to find candidates who can fill in the gaps than to try to locate one person with all of the skills.
If you only have the budget for one or if you simply want to limit the number of interviewees, work with a staffing agency who knows the digital space. They will have relationships with digital marketers in your area and know what they could bring to your table. Even if the digital marketers already have a job, the staffing agency often has tricks up their sleeve to entice them to at least consider an interview with you. The agency can save you loads of time, costs and frustration associated with the hiring process.