10 Interview Questions to Help You Separate Content Marketing Rock Stars From Wannabes. Why do you want to work here? The right candidate should know that creating great content isn’t enough to make it go viral; that only happens when it’s shared by someone who can get the ball rolling. Are they not proud of the content because they don’t like the idea, the execution, or the response it had? Neil Patel once wrote about how SEO is all about content marketing, noting that too many marketers treat the two subjects like this: As he explains, marketers ought to see SEO and content marketing like this: Rock star content marketers should understand the importance of keyword research and the placement of those words and phrases within content and meta tags. Don’t automatically write off the candidates who say they measure their content’s success from social shares and links, but expect a better answer from content marketing rock stars. The key is that the candidates answer the question. What is important is that they can answer the question. What questions do you ask a prospective content marketer to help separate the rock stars from the wannabes? Want to be able to have a great answer to No.
Before I begin, I want to say, “Thank you, internet,” for spawning countless occupations that simply couldn’t exist without you: web designers, app developers, SEOs, and, of course, content marketers. Plenty of the roles suit both creatives and techies.
Digital careers are relatively new and exciting, both for employees and employers. That is, aside from one small problem: How do you pinpoint the best candidate to fill a role that didn’t even exist a few years ago?
We’re all familiar with the typical interview questions:
- What are your weaknesses?
- Why do you want to work here?
- Where do you see yourself five years from now?
There’s nothing wrong with these questions in principle, but they reveal little about someone’s suitability for filling a digital role – content roles included.
Perhaps more worrisome, the digital industry seems to be a culture of inflated egos. It’s easy to exaggerate skill sets hiding behind a screen, and it’s understandable why someone might want to. Unfortunately, this attitude often extends offline and into the office.
Faced with the potential of having both content marketing rock stars – and the wannabes – knocking on your door, how do you separate them?
Here are 10 questions you can ask.
1. How do you generate ideas?
Does the candidate lead a monthly scheduled brainstorming session, sitting down with the team to hash out ideas? Or is the candidate thinking about the next viral hit during the commute to work, while consuming content others have created, or even as they sleep?
Rock star content marketers don’t resign idea generation to a meeting room or whiteboard. They understand that such a regimented, pressured environment rarely leads to great ideas. They know that the best ideas often arrive unexpectedly.
The greatest content marketers are always prepared. They know that the concept that could lead to their next winning idea could come to them anywhere, at any time. They’re never without a way to jot it down – whether that means a pen and paper on the nightstand or an app like Evernote on their phone.
2. How do you decide whether an idea has legs?
The ability to listen to and trust your instincts is important in all areas of your life, not just content marketing. People who rely entirely on what they believe will work, however, are a liability. A great content marketer uses facts and logic alongside instinct to assess whether an idea is worth pursuing.
A great answer to this question might entail a rundown of some of the key principles of successful content. For example, great content should be:
- Simple – It is easy to understand.
- Unexpected – It stands out and surprises its audience.
- Emotional – It makes an audience feel (whether that’s happiness, sadness, or something in between).
- Actionable – It should inspire the consumer to take action on account of it (usually, that means sharing it).
The best content marketers will run through these principles before moving forward with an idea and should be able to explain them to you in an interview setting.
3. How do you promote your content?
Ask candidates to talk you through their process for promoting content. The right candidate should know that creating great content isn’t enough to make it go viral; that only happens when it’s shared by someone who can get the ball rolling.
Sure, once that ball starts rolling, a content marketer can sit back and watch the rewards come in. Until that happens, though, it’s full steam ahead. Sending out 20 emails and hoping for the best simply isn’t good enough to promote content successfully.
There are no set rules about how much time we ought to invest in promoting content. For some, it’s a 50/50 split. Social Triggers’ Derek Halpern recommends that marketers spend 20% of their time creating content and 80% promoting it.
There’s no right answer.
What matters is the candidates’ ability to talk through a variety of tactics that they employ to promote content. You want to weed out any one-trick ponies. A good answer would be composed of a variety of…