There are a few specific things to look out for when you’re hiring for an agency job. Whether it is a Project Manager, Strategist, Consultant, Developer, Designer, or Assistant, these same guidelines all apply.
The first fit must be in culture. We look for someone that fits our team, fits the people that are here, can get along with everybody here really, really well, and will immediately fit in with the rest of the team. Specifically, I’m looking for somebody that is relaxed and laid back but works hard and gets their work done. There are volumes written about culture and how to manage it, but the first step is almost always hiring the right people. So if someone doesn’t look like they’re going to fit in culturally, they are not the right fit for the team.
Enthusiasm & Knowledge
Next, we’re hiring for enthusiasm. We want to work with people that want to work with us. So, when I’m running a interview, I want to know that the person I am interviewing is excited to have the opportunity to work with us.
At the same time, we have to pair enthusiasm with knowledge. We have to know that the person can actually do the job. It doesn’t matter how enthusiastic someone is about the position or how well they fit into the team, if we are hiring them for a technically specific position, if they don’t already have the skills to do the job, the COST to us to train them is going to be significant.
The Question First Approach
An interview is all about the right questions. I don’t mean the questions you ask and the answers you get, I mean the applicant asking the right questions of you. This can be followup or clarification questions about something you asked them, or it can be questions they specifically ask you. If someone really knows what they’re doing, they will ask you the right questions.
So, and this is the trick I like to use in my interviews, I ask them what questions I should ask then I let them answer the questions. I know what questions I want answered and rather than asking the questions I let them dictate the interview. If there are a few things remaining that didn’t get asked by the end of the interview, then I will ask those questions as well. But for the most part, a great applicant will tell me what questions I should be asking and answer them well.
For example, I start off the interview by saying something like “I’m sure you’ve been to lots of interviews, I’m sure you’ve done this before. How about I don’t ask you any questions? What questions should I ask you?”
I have the interviewee lead the interview because somebody who knows what they’re doing is going to know what questions you should be asking them. We had a very knowledgeable digital marketer interview and the first thing they said was “Well, I would first make sure that I know the level of importance in the different areas of marketing. I would want to know if the person I was talking to knew the basics, so I would ask me to put in order of importance the following items for a particular business or an average business; email marketing, reputation management, PPC, social media management, CRO, social media advertising, and maybe some other aspects of traditional advertising.”
After they answered that question, they then followed it up with “Well, you should probably ask me about SERP analysis.” To that I replied “What should I ask you about that?”
That person really knew what they were talking about.
Even If It’s Not Your Speciality
But even if you don’t know that much about a particular industry, after you interview a number of people with this interview method, it will quickly become clear who is and is not a good choice.
As always, a rule of thumb for interviews is to NEVER interview just one person. Always interview at least 3 people for every position. You will get a lot of insight into whether or not your choice is the right choice every time.
I hope this was helpful, now go grow your amazing team with some amazing people!
Jason Long is the founder and CEO of BrainLeaf. A self professed serial entrepreneur, he is always interested in new businesses, new ideas, and new ways to change the world. He has over 18 years of experience in design and development, he has served in a variety of different roles ranging from designer to CEO. Most of his time is spent working on the build and development of new ventures while traveling the world.