Interviewing for a martech role when the interviewer doesn’t understand martech

Martech Interview

This guest post by Erica Seidel is part of a regular column she writes, Ask the Martech Recruiter. Erica runs The Connective Good, a retained executive recruiting firm that helps companies land leaders in martech, marketing, digital strategy, analytics, and market research.

Dear Erica,

I am interviewing for a martech role. But it’s clear that the people I am meeting early in the interview process don’t understand martech — at all! I know I can do the job, but how do I get past the gatekeepers who don’t “get” martech?

Anna, New York

Dear Anna,

If only everyone in an org — from HR to the CMO to the CEO — understood martech as well as you do. You’re in a fairly new field, though. Most martech jobs involve lots of teaching. So you’ll likely have to educate as part of the interview process.

There are three things you can do to shine in this situation:

  • Don’t just wait for the interviewer to ask you questions. It may surprise you, Anna, but many interviewers are grasping to find the right questions to ask you. Instead of subjecting yourself to their flailing interrogation, try to make the experience more comfortable for them.

    Approach the interview as if you are a highly-paid consultant and you are there to help figure out the problem. Bring your own questions to the meeting so you can diagnose the organization’s needs. Then you can say, “Based on what you’re telling me, it sounds like you have needs around X, Y, and Z. Shall we double-click into how I would tackle those challenges?”

  • Show and tell. It works in kindergarten and it can work in your situation too. Bring in some examples of your work — maybe a marketing dashboard you put together, or your Stackie, or a high-level view of your personalization strategy, or a presentation you gave to get resources for martech in your current company.

    Be prepared to show and explain your work. By giving them something to look at while you talk, you’ll appeal to more of their senses, so they’ll be more likely to learn from you and remember you. You’ll really stand out compared to the other candidates who walk in empty-handed. And you’ll have a more robust conversation – one that you are helping to steer.

  • Match the altitude of your stories to the person you’re meeting. Martech folks can have great aptitude and attitude. But they often misjudge what I call their altitude. They will dive straight into the weeds, losing the interest of the person they are talking to and missing the opportunity to connect their work to overall business needs.

Here’s an example:

“I did a vendor selection for a journey orchestration engine and needed to find a tool that integrated best with all of the other data we had.”

Now, here’s a way of approaching this same statement with a higher altitude.

“We had a lot of data – on our customers and our products. But what we didn’t have was a solid view of our end-to-end customer experience. So we couldn’t tell where we were losing customers and where we could delight them. It turns out there are some tools that help to map out the customer journey. They’re called journey orchestration engines. I investigated several of these, and lasered in on one that would play the best with our other data.”

You may sacrifice some detail by telling your story in a broader fashion, but remember: your goal is not to impart all of the detail in your head to the other person. Your goal is to connect with the interviewer, match your stories to their level of understanding, and advance in the process.

What other advice do you have for Anna? Please comment below.

Have a question on recruiting or career transitions to propose for this column? Please email erica@theconnectivegood.com. Don’t worry, we’ll keep your name and company confidential.

Readers: Erica is on the board of advisors of the MarTech conference. She will be leading an executive session at our upcoming event in San Francisco, May 9-11, with a panel of CMOs: How Today’s Chief Marketers Are Transforming Their Teams and Talent to Meet New Customer Demands. Register today for the lowest “alpha” rate on tickets to guarantee your seat.

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Comments

  1. Brian Hansford says:

    Valuable post for a common challenge. Too often I see martech folks jump into the features or functionality of their favorite platform. Technical skills are important. I suggest that candidates also focus heavily on the business objectives and desired outcomes. Translating the martech capabilities into measurable results is the best way to connect with a non-martech hiring manager or decision maker.

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