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Monday, January 29, 2007

Finding the right candidate for an open marketing position can be a challenge.As the interviewer, it's up to you to make every question count to elicit informative answers and get to know an interviewee and their qualifications for the position.

The following 10 questions provided by the Creative Group - a marketing staffing agency go beyond the average inquiry and allow you to gain deeper insight into each candidate's abilities.

1. "What would you have changed about your last job and why?" The answer to this question serves as a reality check: You're ensuring that a candidate's expectations for this job are realistic and that he's likely to find the qualities he found lacking in his last job. For instance, if he says that he wished he'd had more opportunities for teamwork in his last position, but the one he's applying for doesn't require much interaction with co-workers, he may not be a match.

2. "Tell me about a situation in which you had to address a disagreement or conflict in the workplace." With this question, you're trying to gain insight into a candidate's "soft" skills and ability to negotiate office politics. There are always differences of opinion in the workplace, so be wary of those who say they've never encountered a negative situation. Maybe a candidate disagreed with her colleague on how best to present an ad campaign to a new client. If she steamrolled her coworker's ideas, she may not be the ideal person for the job. She should instead give you an example that demonstrates solid communication and diplomacy abilities in her efforts to work with the other person.

3. "What type of work environment is the least appealing to you?" Instead of asking about an ideal surrounding, this question will elicit a more insightful response. Maybe a candidate says his least favorite aspect of his last job was all the noise in the office. If you manage a boisterous group that thrives on constant interaction with each other, this individual may not be the right fit for your group.

4. "How do you think your favorite manager would describe you?" In this question, you're looking for the candidate's ability to assess her own strong points - and whether they are accurate. For instance, if she says, "My manager would describe me as organized, dedicated and innovative," you'll want to see if these are qualities that match up with what's said when you check her references. This person's favorite supervisor is likely to be on the list and even if he or she isn't, you can see if other references talk about some of these same qualities.

5. "Talk about your least favorite boss and what you could have done to make the relationship better." The candidate's reply will give you insight into how he views management. Many people leave their positions because they aren't happy with their manager, but you're looking for a more reflective, positive answer such as, "I learned so much from my current manager even though we didn't always agree." You don't want to hire a candidate who appears bitter and seems to hold a grudge.

6. "Describe your most significant contributions in your last job." You're looking for solid results here: How could this person directly contribute to your company's bottom line? Maybe she saved her company money by streamlining the process for creating her department's annual brochure, or found a more cost effective vendor to print the piece.

7. "Describe an important decision you made in your last position and how you arrived at it." This is an especially important question for middle- or senior-level management positions. Here, the candidate should reveal his or her decision-making style: For example, if he asked for input from others, it may indicate he's more of a team player - and that he knows it's important to make teammates feel included in major decisions even if he doesn't adopt their advice. The way he arrived at his choice, whatever it is, should fit into your particular business culture.

8. "What do you believe your current or past company could do to be more successful and why?" This question will reveal whether the interviewee has (or had) a solid understanding of an employer's mission and business goals. Watch out if her answer has a bitter edge, such as, "The company is a total disaster - no one could help."

9. "What is your most satisfying career achievement and why?" The response should be specific and verifiable, such as, "I was part of the team of three people who lead a rebranding campaign for the company's top product, widget x."

10. "How can you contribute to our organization?" The candidate should be able to identify ways she can support the company's specific business goals. Her answer should indicate that she has thoroughly researched your company rather than just looked up the corporation's mission statement.

Don't hesitate to ask follow-up questions based on the interviewee's answers - you'll gain even deeper insight into the job candidate and his or her potential as a future employee. The interview is easily the most important step in the hiring process. Asking these questions will help you narrow the candidate field and identify the best match for the role.

The Creative Group is a specialized staffing service placing marketing, advertising, creative, web and public relations professionals with a variety of firms on a project basis. Find more information at


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