Y Scouts is an executive search firm that helps nonprofit organizations and social enterprises find exceptional leaders – including CMO’s. When we’re interviewing potential candidates for a CMO position, the recruiters here at Y Scouts try to understand a number of things – their purpose, values, career history, the high-impact success outcomes and achievements a CMO has had in their career – and a lot more. (Note: if you’re looking to hire a Chief Marketing Officer, contact us and we’d be happy to share our recruiting process with you)
Chief marketing officers in the Y Scouts Leadership Community have given us some of their favorite CMO interview questions. Here’s what they had to say:
1. Pitch our company.
High-ranking executives like the CMO are direct representatives of the company. Asking the candidate to pitch the company as if they were in a sales meeting is a good way to determine if they are prepared to represent the company to others.
2. In your own words: what do we do?
A chief marketing officer should have a very good idea of what your company does, and they need to be able to explain it in simple words. I like this question because it shows me who has done the most thorough research on what my company does and the impact we have on our customers.
3. Ask them to “sell” you an object in the room.
I think basic sales skills are essential for a CMO. They are going to have to find multiple ways to talk about my company and what we do, so asking them to express the same amount of interest in a familiar product (like something on the desk) lets me see how they make everyday things sound refreshing and new.
4. Ask questions that determine cultural fit.
I want to hire someone who fits in with my company, because people who share a common goal with their employer tend to be more successful on the job. Asking candidates about our company’s culture helps me figure out who they are as a person and if their goals match up with ours.
5. What is your communication style?
Someone joining my team at the executive level needs to know how to interact with other people. If our communication styles conflict too much, it could be a problem.
6. How are your writing skills?
Writing skills can be completely different from verbal communication skills. I need to know that an executive in my company can effectively communicate with my employees, my clients, and myself both in person and in writing.
7. Teach me something I don’t already know.
One of my good friends told me that Google executives use some version of this question in interviews. It makes the candidate think quickly and creatively, while giving them a chance to show off a skill I may not have noticed otherwise.
8. What Are Your 3 Biggest Accomplishments?
I ask this question because someone’s answer can teach me a lot. Are their successes professional or personal? What do they consider important in life?
9. How have you used new technology or innovations to help your employer?
Marketing is constantly changing, and it’s important that my CMO keeps up on the latest news. But I don’t just want to know if they’re keeping up with the changes – I want to know how they’d use new ideas to help my business.
10. What brought you here?
Anyone can hand me a resume and show me their career history. But only a special candidate can or will explain how their career history helped them grow beyond their current position.
11. If you could restart your career from the beginning, what would you change?
I don’t ask this question so that the candidate can tell me about career mistakes they’ve made. I’m more interested to see how they used their mistakes as a learning experience. It’s also interesting to see how they think the field has changed since they first started their career, and what additional experience they’d like to have.
12. How do you think the company will change in two years, and how do you see yourself shaping change in this role?
We want to make sure that the people we hire for senior-level positions in our company are in it for the long haul. By asking them how they think the company will change and how they will help us get there, we see how they plan to help our company evolve.
13. What do you think I could do better as the CEO of my company?
It takes a lot of courage to look someone in the eye and tell them what they could change in order to improve. Their answer can tell me if they have thought critically about my company, and it can tell me if they are being honest or just saying what they think I want to hear.
14. What would you do on your first day at the job?
I like this question because it shows what kind of a leader my employee would be. Would they want to start implementing changes right away, or would they take time to evaluate what we were doing before from an insider’s perspective? How would they handle having a completely new set of coworkers?
15. What are your goals?
This question shows me what motivates an employee to work hard. Knowing what they want to do and where they get their inspiration makes it easier to build the foundation for a relationship.
What CMO interview questions have you been asked? Tell us in the comments below.