Excellent vs. Average – How to Hire a Great CMO

In this past week, several leaders in my network expressed disappointment in their recent CMO hires. Now, whilst there’s always a measure of risk in any new hire at any level, I’ve observed that when critical elements of the interview and screening process are overlooked, less than stellar hiring decisions typically ensue.

To distinguish an excellent CMO hire from an average one involves delving deeper into the 4 critical areas below:

1. Dive into Their Learning Agility

Why It’s Overlooked: The fast-paced evolution of the marketing field necessitates a leader who is not just knowledgeable but is also capable of learning and adapting swiftly. Traditional interviews and CVs often highlight past achievements but fail to adequately convey a candidate’s ability to grow and evolve.

How to Incorporate It:

  • Ask candidates about times they had to learn a new skill or adapt to a significant change in their industry. Focus on the process they used to navigate these challenges.
  • Pose hypothetical scenarios relevant to your market and ask candidates to strategize solutions, evaluating their ability to think innovatively and adapt to hypothetical future scenarios.

2. Commitment to Data-driven Decision Making

Why It’s Overlooked: While most candidates will assert they make data-driven decisions, truly embedding this approach into every marketing initiative is not as common. The difference lies in a candidate’s ability to not just react to data but to proactively seek it out, interpret it, and predict trends, thereby making informed strategic decisions.

How to Incorporate It:

  • Ask candidates to describe a situation where data led them to change course on a major decision or strategy. This can reveal their genuine commitment to and comfort with using data analytics in decision-making processes.
  • Consider giving candidates a case study exercise based on real company data, asking them to formulate a strategy based on their analysis. This practical test can highlight their analytical skills, understanding of data analytics tools, and their ability to derive actionable insights from complex data sets.

3. Strategic Network and Influence

Why It’s Overlooked: The emphasis often lies on what the candidate has done in isolation, without considering the breadth and depth of their professional network and their ability to influence both within and outside the organization. A CMO’s effectiveness can be significantly amplified by who they know and how they can leverage these relationships for strategic partnerships, insights, and trend foresight.

How to Incorporate It:

  • Inquire about the candidate’s network, focusing on how they have utilized these relationships in their past roles to achieve business objectives.
  • Evaluate the candidate’s thought leadership and presence in the industry through their participation in panels, publications, and active contribution to industry discussions. This not only shows their ability to influence externally but also indicates their commitment to staying at the forefront of their field.

4. Compatibility with Future Technology Trends

Why It’s Overlooked: When evaluating a CMO candidate, the focus might be on their current technical skills and knowledge, without considering their aptitude for and attitude towards emerging technologies and trends. As the marketing landscape is continually reshaped by innovations, a CMO’s ability to foresee and harness these changes can be a game-changer.

How to Incorporate It:

  • Discuss specific emerging technologies relevant to your sector during interviews. Ask candidates for their insights on leveraging these technologies in future campaigns.
  • Evaluate the candidate’s history of adopting new technologies in previous roles and their success in implementing innovative marketing strategies. This assessment can provide a glimpse into how they might navigate future tech trends.

By integrating these nuanced assessments into your hiring process, you significantly enhance your ability to distinguish between an average and an exceptional CMO candidate. These insights delve deeper into the intangible qualities that contribute to leadership success, ensuring your new CMO possesses the learning agility, data-driven orientation, strategic influence, and tech savvy and innovation to shoot the lights out.

Ready to add a game-changing CMO to your team? Don’t hesitate to send me a message.

Article first posted at Excellent vs. Average – How to Hire a Great CMO | LinkedIn

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