Have you ever hired a carpenter? My guess is if you did, you probably didn’t vet that person by saying, “Tell me about a time when you solved a challenging problem.”


Instead, you probably said something like, “I have this room that I want to make bigger, but my budget is tight. And I’d love to add some shelves too. How would you do that?”

Hiring senior people who are skilled in marketing analytics, marketing consulting, or market research need not be much different from hiring a carpenter. This is good news, since a lot of hiring managers rack their brains hoping to come up with just the right interview questions to find out what they need to know.

A great way to assess and engage your next potential hire is to get beyond interviews, and give them a way to show their stripes with assessments.

I’ve become a big fan of assessments. They let you have a richer and more predictive conversation with candidates. Assessments expose your candidates to the type of work they’d do on the job. They test the commitment of your candidates. And they let you compare candidates in a more apples-to-apples way, thereby increasing your confidence in hiring decisions.

Assessments can vary, depending on the job and the personality characteristics you’re looking for.

What do I mean by assessments, you ask? Here’s an example.

An Example: Assessments For An Analytical Marketing Consulting Leader
Say you’re looking for a leader of an analytical marketing consulting practice – someone who will land and lead client relationships and consult on data-heavy marketing challenges. Let’s say that your ideal fit is someone who can listen, ask questions, advise, and sell with equal finesse.

Your list of potential assessments may look like this:

Assessment What It Tests When To Use
1.       “What is the elevator pitch you’d use to describe your current company’s services to someone who is a customer of your key competitor? Now let’s say you get a meeting with that person. What questions would you ask to advance the relationship?” – Thinking on one’s feet
– Balancing talking with listening
– Competitive selling skills
Round 1
2.       “We have lost some important clients recently and we want to make sure we don’t lose any more. Can you give us a 20-minute guided tour of a client relationship that you grew? Tell us the story of your work with that client, the tradeoffs you faced, and the results. Bring us whatever supporting information to help tell your story. (We can sign an NDA.)” – Experience with client management nuances
– Storytelling
– Executive presence
Round 2
3.       “Here’s the raw data from a recent research study. Craft a few slides to show the ‘so what’ and the ‘now what’ to a CMO of a Fortune 500 company. How would you change the presentation if you were presenting to a CFO?” – Analytical prowess
– Insightfulness
– Persuasiveness
Round 2
4.       “Here are documents we use to present our capabilities. We’re not sure they are hitting the mark with our target audience. What changes would you propose to the content and usage of these materials to drive revenue? How would you boil this information down to the back of a napkin?” – Revenue orientation
– Diplomacy
Round 2
5.       “Pick a marketing analytics trend that you think will have lasting impact. Create 3-5 slides on this trend and its impact for CMOs. Engage our team in a conversation about this trend. ” – Insightfulness
– Marketing knowledge
– Listening/facilitating in addition to presenting and teaching
Round 3

A Five-Step Approach For Incorporating Assessments Into Your Candidate Evaluation Process

Here’s a step by step approach for integrating assessments into your evaluation process.

1. Identify the most critical things you are seeking in your new hire.

  • These are likely a mix of hard skills and soft skills.

2. Identify the method of evaluating those skills and traits.

  • You can identify some things in interviews and some things in reference conversations, leaving some other things to evaluate with assessments.

3. Design the assessments.

  • Align the commitment required to where you are in the process. Just as you wouldn’t discuss really heavy stuff on a first date, save the time-consuming assessments – like having the candidate create and deliver a presentation – to a later round.
  • Consider having the employees who will be peers of the new hire test out the assessments. This will catch flaws and also get them more invested in hiring.

4. Have each of your candidates complete the assessment.

  • Watch not only what they produce but also how they go about it. Do they put a lot of muscle into it? Do they clarify expectations and ask for feedback along the way? Do they grumble about being asked to perform in this way? These things are all telling.

5. Monitor the results over time.

  • Evaluate whether your assessment was as predictive as hoped. Did the person who did well on the assessment perform well on the job? Should the assessment be tweaked to capture different insight on candidates? Did the assessment help to engage the candidates and increase their interest in the role?