How to Hire a Well-Up Marketer

Published on 06 June 2024

Essentially, you hire a marketer just like any other specialist: they must be able and love to think.

That’s it. We could stop here.

However, since we need an entire article, I will share my experiences and observations from roughly a hundred interviews I’ve conducted in my professional life with marketers of various nationalities, genders, ages, and levels of experience.
I focus more on soft skills: the ability to learn, think, work in a team, make decisions, and think creatively. Compared to hard skills, people can only learn them slowly.

1. Decide Who You Need

Before starting your search, determine who you need: a narrow specialist (SMM, SEO, PPC expert), a generalist (knows a bit of everything but isn’t profoundly skilled in all areas), or a leader (business partner, strategist, manager). Often, small business owners want everything at once. This is understandable and natural: the smaller the company, the more versatile the specialist needed. But it’s essential to be clear about who you are looking for because the skills, abilities, and expectations should differ.

Generally, having a clear picture and being honest with yourself is beneficial.
«Whom to choose?»
If you’re not confident in assessing the candidate’s professional knowledge and skills, don’t hesitate to ask friends, acquaintances, or professionals like us for help.

2. Establish General Criteria for Candidate Evaluation

Regardless of the type of specialist, there are standard criteria that will help you choose the right candidate:

  • Marketing Fundamentals: A marketer should understand and be able to explain the product they are promoting, its strengths and weaknesses, unique selling proposition, target audience, competitive landscape, and market events. Even if the candidate is from a different industry, ask them about the product they are currently working with.

  • Experience and Projects: It’s essential to understand what kind of projects and tasks the candidate has previously dealt with. Ask them to share their past experiences, successful and exciting projects, and contributions to the company’s achievements. Also, ask them to discuss failures and see if they can analyze their mistakes. A critical mind is probably second in importance only to the general ability to think.

  • Marketing Awareness: All marketers need to think in terms of results. It’s good if the candidate understands how their actions impact the business, whether it’s increasing leads, revenue, or other business metrics. Ask them to discuss the marketing team’s goals and internal clients, who sets the tasks for the marketer, and how to evaluate the results.

  • Skills and Curiosity: Marketing is all about constant research and experimentation. Ensure the candidate is open to new things and eager to learn, even (especially) if they have twenty years of experience.
«The perfect marketer, the perfect campaign»

3. Assess the Candidate’s Professional Expertise

Narrow Specialists

If you need the candidate to focus on a specific area that requires hard skills on an ongoing basis, test these particular skills. In addition to general criteria, it’s important to check:

  • Subject Matter Expertise: Key concepts, objects, relationships in the subject area, key performance indicators and measurement methods, and market benchmarks.

  • Tool Proficiency: Proficiency in “line-of-business” systems, such as ad platforms or CMS, analytical tools, the ability to work “hands-on” in spreadsheets (this is important!), and knowing what to do if something is unclear (e.g., googling, searching on Reddit, or asking pros in communities).
I once had a candidate for an SEO specialist position who had a great understanding of the technical aspects of search engine optimization but couldn’t explain how their work contributed to sales.

I chose another candidate who, although less experienced, clearly explained the role of search traffic in the marketing mix, how search influences the Customer Journey, and how to adjust sales strategies based on a lead’s search queries.


The more versatile the experience, the less depth of expertise. Think about what the generalist must do most often: create newsletters, write website content, design and format presentations, organize events, launch ads, or manage social media.

Give them a test task related to the primary or most frequent task: write a newsletter text or develop an event project plan. If advertising is the focus, ask them to share their experience with ad platforms, analyze what’s in your ad accounts, and suggest 3 to 5 fundamental changes or ideas.
Once, I was hiring a generalist and got two finalists: both knew a bit of everything, but the first was an excellent writer, and the second loved organizing events.

We were launching a series of business breakfasts then, so I chose the second candidate. I didn’t regret it: attendees moved through the funnel with no push from our side, shared feedback on Facebook about the excellent organization and speakers, registered for future events, and brought colleagues.


If you’re looking for a marketing director or department head, prioritize leadership skills. Check their ability to build teams, play in a team and be a playing coach, handle conflicts, and develop themselves and others. Ask for examples of strategic approaches: such a person should love and understand a long-term play, be able to mentally step out of the routine, and look 1−2−3 years ahead.

Please don’t check if the candidate makes beautiful presentations—it's a helpful skill but not primary for a leader. And don’t ask what’s wrong with your website at the first interview—it won’t say anything good about yourself and won’t help evaluate the candidate’s abilities.
«Inside a marketer»
Asking for a deep test task is controversial, for example, asking to develop and present a company’s "high-level marketing strategy." There are two polar opinions among my colleagues: on the one hand, it’s a vast work, and if done thoughtfully, it should be paid for. Many marketing leaders won’t take it on, not out of laziness, but because they understand they can’t do it well for a test and don’t want to do it poorly. On the other hand, how else can you know if this is "your person"?
I believe it’s right to ask them to present previous projects and see if you have a "human match." Remember, if successful, you’re choosing a business partner who will be a profit center and a source of strategic initiatives, not a cost center.

And you can always ask for a "second opinion" from professionals if you’re in doubt.

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