home articles newsletter

Recruiting Your Next Marketing Talents? Give ’em a Technical Test

Over the past years, I’ve been invited to several interviews for marketing positions. Yet, I’ve not been asked a single time to do a marketing technical test. And you know what, this sucks!

How the others do recruiting: taking a look at developers recruitment process

When recruiting a developer, technical tests are an essential part of the process. First, they give you a primer about the actual technical skills of your different candidates (who would have guessed?). Second, they reveal the ability of the candidates to break down a problem into smaller — and easier to solve — chunks.

Technical tests are such a normal part of the recruiting process that you’ll find threads all over the internet discussing companies’ favorite.

Tests are a big business opportunity too. Just browse the countless cloud-based solutions boasting the ability to streamline this process.

These tests are so anchored in the recruiting process for developers that it raises the question: why marketers aren’t tested about their technical sets AT ALL?

No technical tests in marketing recruitment: why this sucks.

  1. It deprives you from assessing your candidates’ proper technical skills, their mindset and their ability to think on their feet when facing a problem.
  2. It gives you an incomplete picture of your candidate. You only see a story whose levers you don’t control entirely. To me, any marketing candidate worthy of the name will at least try and con you into a pretty story.
  3. Because being technical gives marketers an edge about conceivable strategies, their replicability and their implementation.
  4. It entertains the false narrative that marketers are just tap-dancers flushing money down the toilets. Believe it or not, marketing now comes with a serious bunch of technical skills: writing compelling copy that converts, setting up conversion funnels, analyzing data, plugging APIs, scrapping content to help the open data community, writing code, you name it!

“So, you work in marketing?”

Giving a marketing technical test to your next recrue: what should you ask for?

A few weeks ago, one of our team member wanted to learn how to build a MailChimp automation. Instead of taking an hour to walk him through the different steps and having him take notes, I devised an exercice. And I asked him to look for the necessary information by himself: knowledge base, threads, blog posts…

The instructions were:

Let’s create an onboarding automation for people signing up to a free trial.Ideally, we’d love them to be welcomed right after they signed up. Then, after a few days (let’s say 3) we’d like to invite them to an upcoming webinar where they’ll learn how to use the platform.These people can be either French or English.

There were some room for templating, creating a list with segments, adding tracking parameters to check conversion from each new subscriber in our Analytics dashboard…

The purpose was slightly different from a recruiting test. Our team wanted this colleague to learn something in a more effective way. By getting shit done, he would carry this new knowledge in a more comprehensive way.

Afterwards, we asked him to draft us an account of his process. We also asked him to write a proper step-by-step guide to serve as a go-to resource for future employees.

Along the way, I’ve realized that some benefits were very similar to those of a technical test:

  1. Devising an exercice forced our team to clearly articulate our needs and processes.
  2. The exercice gave our colleague a first landmark. In a 6-month time, he’ll be able to assess his progress.
  3. It showed him his personal strengths and where lies his scope for progress.

This would have been a perfect example of technical test.

A few tests you could give your candidates:

Assessing the answers to your technical test: what you’re looking for?

You’re not necessarily looking for candidates who know how to code. But you want to look for someone who can overcome this by plugging your MailChimp leads to your Salesforce account without opening their terminal (hint: hello Zapier!). Aware of new tools + thinking on their feet = ❤.

Candidates could use Google Webmaster Tools to check your website usability: 404, crawl problems, speed. But they could also favor a design eye or even a down-to-earth approach. Imagine a candidate actually auditing your website usability in the subway where connectivity is at its worst. This would make a great case study for an interview. I would LOVE someone coming to see me with this.

Finally, your product and team needs will determine the mandatory skills you’re looking for in a candidate. But technical test will also help you get a better insight on strategies, problem-tackling…

Be ethical and transparent

Don’t be a douche or a miser: do not ask for technical tests to get free audits of your website.

Tell your candidates, when asking for a technical test, that you will NOT use their content whatever the issue of the recruiting process is. And stick to it. (Bad) reputation travels fast.

Ethic is very underrated right now. Stick out of the crowd and build an ethical business culture. You will attract quality game changers in return (people talk between them, as you may have noticed).

To conclude

The recruiting process should give you both an overall and a detailed understanding of your candidates.

Keep the interviews for analyzing their background, their vision, their ability to articulate their ideas…

Add a technical test for the rest. ;)

Update 2017

Since the first publication of this article (on Medium in 2016), I’ve been asked to do several technical tests.

The funny thing is that people had read this article and thought it’d be fun to see me eat my own dog food. These were super interesting moments. These companies and I had to dig deeper than the usual job-interview-bullshit, to question their processes and the reasons underlining what they did marketing-wise.

Way to go people!👌

Any thoughts? Let’s talk about it on Mastodon!