I recently completed a webinar with marketing operations experts, John Neeson of Sirius Decisions,and Laura Cross from Eloqua. During the webinar, which focused on "Building a Marketing Operations Center of Excellence," a question came in from the audience: “When hiring for a Marketing Operations position, what are the critical competencies?”
This is an interesting question and a discussion quickly ensued post-event. Our experts agreed on a framework for identifying an I.D.E.A.L. marketing operations candidate:
Inquisitive – A natural curiosity means this person will seek out problems to solve before they become obvious to others.
Detail oriented – The role of operations requires an eye for the small things, for example, finding bits of “off” data, or continuous bits of “on” data that represent trends.
Efficient – The main goal of an operations function is to identify and build gains in efficiency for an organization. It’s critical that the manager is personally efficient as well.
Analytical – Analyzing and manipulating data and processes is not for everyone. It’s kind of like math – you’ve either got it, or you don’t. And in marketing operations, you gotta have it!
Logical – Efficient, optimized systems run on sound logic and so should your marketing. An effective operations managers has the ability to work through scenarios and envision the logical outcome.
This is the ideal framework but how do you identify these attributes in an interview?
Ask off topic and open ended opinion questions to see what sort of dialogue ensues. Does the candidate ask interesting questions to gather additional information from you? Is the candidate thinking about how you replied and building on the questions in a logical pattern? Our CMO, Brian Kardon likes to ask the question “What is 1% of 1,000,000?” - a seemingly easy question that is often blundered in an interview. In most cases, the actual answer is not as important as understanding the thought process to get to the answer.
To gauge a candidate's analytical nature and attention to detail, request that they review a set of data (limit it to a specific program, event, or problem) and allow them to take the data home, reporting back with their interpretation.
Finally, don’t forget about the power of social networking sites. Use LinkedIn and other professional networks to learn more about the candidate. Find out if anyone you are connected with has worked with the candidate before. Good luck finding the right Marketing Operations professional!
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