June 3, 2008

The Difficulty In Marketing Interviews

Filed under: Human Relations, Personal Branding — Robert John Ed @ 9:55 pm

“I’m not an HR person. I’m a marketer.” That’s how I’ve opened up near all of my twelve interviews in the last two weeks.

That might be the dumbest thing I’ve ever said. Sure, it’s true if you look at people and attempt to fit them into buckets. The old, “hey it’s not my department, it’s not my job” thing. Upon further inspection, we are all HR people regardless if we like it or not. We are all human resources and many of us will have a hand in hiring someone or working with someone who is recently hired.

The only thing is that I’m not saying that to disqualify my opinion with the people I interview. I’m saying it because I want them to feel at ease and open up, because marketing knowledge is pretty tough to understand. Marketers all over the planet are incredibly talented and knowledgeable individuals with perspectives and ideas that have potential to alter their employer, business, industry and world operate. It’s true! Don’t you think that Walt Disney changed the world? Didn’t Sam Walton?

Marketers really are smart folks. But often, trying to assess and understand that knowledge is like squeezing a rock for orange juice.

Why, so tough?

Well, I’ve a few theories. The first (and worthwhile) idea is that this knowledge is ever changing. Every time we define marketing, it changes again. Every time we “master” a medium, a new one pops up with more intricacies than waves in the ocean. And it will never ever stop. Marketing is a social science, which is not a static science. It evolves as the people evolve. So attempting to communicate something that is constantly in flux is obviously more difficult than that which is not. Additionally, marketing and the ideas behind it are generally not agreed upon…by anyone. Ask 100 people for a definition of marketing based on their own memory and you’ll probably get 125 different definitions.

Lastly, there is something so incredibly visceral about understanding the practice. Seemingly beyond words. Certainly not beyond comprehension, but words fail to register a holistic representation of the value. Sound like BS? It’s not. If I could simply write all the value in marketing and how to do it correctly today, I’d retire rich a week after the book hit the presses. But that is beyond my ability; and unfortunately, beyond even the greatest of our marketers today as well. Maybe you need a certain amount of time, practice and development, I don’t know.

What I do know is that interviewing marketers is tough…not because they’re tough; but because being able to assess their actual knowledge is. And that’s coming from the one person within my organization that should think it’s easy.


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