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Hire for Mindset Not Just Skillset or Culture

As we’re starting to see a transition of marketers leaving agencies and moving to work in-house for companies, many brands are starting to look for who their ideal marketing team should be.

The biggest questions I get asked when defining the structure of a marketing department are: 

  • What are the skill sets that I should hire for?
  • How do I make sure they’re aligned with my culture?

Yet beyond the skill set and culture fit is the mindset fit of each role that you’re looking for. 

When I hire marketers, it’s less about skills ie certifications because we can teach the skills. What we can’t teach is a strategic creative mindset. I can train someone to do the tactical tasks but I can’t train someone to have that natural curiosity to ask why we are doing this and if there is a more impactful or efficient way to do it. 

The natural inclination to ask why a campaign is created and how it serves the larger purpose will give space for leaders and team members to have space for collective intelligence. In that space is where brands can create innovative ways beyond what is possible by an individual. Not all of your marketers need to be strategic creatives, you can have a mixture of strategic and doing creatives. The key is having a couple of strategists on the team will allow the whole team to implement marketing strategies in an intentional way.

When it comes to training the strategic creatives, it’s about giving them the confidence to think like a consultant and empowering them to guide the brand to be able to accomplish the marketing goals. No matter if it’s the strategist who’s creating the strategy or the creatives who are implementing, it’s about creating a safe space for each team member to test ideas out that will give them the courage to continue innovating.

How to find your strategic creatives?

I have a few questions that I like to sprinkle into the interviews to get a feel for if the candidate is more strategic or implementation focused:

How do they view digital marketing and its power and impact on businesses and our society? This is designed to filter out anyone who believes it’s purely traffic and transactions because that’s not the format of marketing that we want to emphasize that will serve the brands that are filled with changemakers aiming to create an impact in the world.

What gets them the most excited when they see the completion of a campaign? Are there any specific campaigns that they have been a part of or have seen that they really liked? Depending on how they answer this, it shows how intuitive they are to the process overall. It shows up just how much they’re curious about the end result in how it can help a business rather than just saying that the campaign was creatively appealing.

How do they show up in a team? There isn’t a right answer per say because there are different strengths in teams that we may be looking for at different times but getting to tactically understand how they show up will let us know how that can affect the overall team’s dynamic.

If they run into a situation where they don’t have all of the information how do they move forward? What do you do if an idea is brought up that you don’t resound with? This is to filter out the candidates who may not want to think collaboratively or are willing to actively go the extra mile to bring the campaign to the next level. 

What do you do if you feel like you don’t understand why this campaign is happening? This question lets us figure out their comfort level to speak up in a group setting. We may have found the candidate does want to know why but their personality means they’re less likely to voice that. If we find that we really like the candidate but they’re less likely to speak up, it’s a reminder for us, as leaders, to give them the space to speak their insights. 

These questions combined with the qualifications of their skills and how they show up personality-wise and what they value will help you find the ideal candidates for you. 

Good luck recruiting!

About the author

Ruoyun Xu Killian, business advisor and speaker, is on a mission to put the human experience back into digital marketing. With over 10 years in the Social Media Marketing industry, she works with businesses and organizations to amplify the impact they’re creating through Human-Centered Marketing.  As a previous digital marketing agency owner, she has recruited and trained over 30 creatives and now guides scaling brands to build out their internal marketing teams.

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