Part 2: 27 Interview Questions to Find the GREAT Growth Hackers (& Weed Out the Big Talkers)

In my last article, I gave the 7 Focus Areas Every GREAT Growth Marketing Hire Should Know, but there’s still some tools you need to have in your toolkit to find a GREAT growth hacker. Why? Because big talking growth hackers will blow smoke that may blind founders who are not trained in interviewing GREAT growth hackers.

For example, you may ask one of my focus area questions, like:

“Do you have experience with Mixpanel?”
A Big Talking Growth Hacker will answer: Absolutely I used it all the time in my past role.
But what they really mean: The engineer sitting next to me was always talking about the difference between events and properties, but I don’t understand it.

Or you might ask:

“How about Google Analytics?”
A Big Talking Growth Hacker will answer: It’s my favorite app. I know it inside out.
But what they really mean:  I’m used to going in, finding a graph that looks up and to the right, and then sticking it into a presentation to show it to my boss.

It’s one thing to know the term, it’s a totally different thing to have done used it at the scale and proficiency your startup needs.

Below are 27 Interview Questions to Find the GREAT Growth Hackers (& Weed Out the Big Talkers):

1. They know how to get traffic

  • Question 1: Without using Dropbox, Facebook, and Hotmail, what are your favorite viral loops in the market? How would you design a viral loop for our business? Are there any tools you’d use that don’t require coding? Desired Answer: if they don’t have one, that means they aren’t looking for one. If you’re a curious growth hacker, you probably encountered one in the last couple of days.
  • Question 2: If we were to hire you, what would you do the first week to improve our SEO rankings? What tools would you use? What websites, access, and passwords will you need? Desired Answer: Do they ask for Webmaster Tools? Google Analytics? Do they know some SEO Tools?
  • Question 3: In previous jobs, what was your paid advertising budget and goals?
  • Question 4: In Adwords, do you prefer single keyword ad groups or grouping? Up to how many keywords in each one? Desired Answer: It doesn’t matter their answer. There are good reasons for both. That being said, be aware if they seem to think, “I can’t believe this guy goes into that much detail…” If so, they probably are not proficient.
  • Question 5: Ask them about a particular pay-per-click metric (cost per install, per signup, per free trial). Ask them about CTRs from past ads to see if they remember them.
  • Question 6: We run Adwords Campaigns for Countries/Cities/Regions to Achieve {X} business objective… What campaigns would you run, and how would you structure them? Further Prompts: What will be the break up of the campaigns or ad groups? What are the settings they’d pick?
  • Question 7: We run Facebook Ads on Multiple Countries/Cities/Regions to Achieve {X} business objective. What campaigns would you run, and how would you structure them? Further Prompts: What will be the break up of the campaigns or AdSet? What will be their settings on Facebook? What will be the audiences they’d target? What will be the conversion pixel they’d optimize for?Also, look for them to tell you how they’d do a remarketing campaign for retention.

2. They are a tracking pro

  • Question 7: What were your Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) tagging practices on your last job? Further Prompts: How did you tag people coming from Facebook Ads vs. people coming from Facebook Social? How did you do email marketing vs. search?
  • Question 8: Given what you know about our business, what are the main events and properties you’ll send to our tracking software? What would be the code that you’d send to engineers? (Give them a computer to Google it). Desired Answer: When Googling, they should go right to the developer’s documentation of Mixpanel, Amplitude, or Kissmetrics and grab the javascript.
  • Question 9: What Split Testing Software do you recommend we use? Why? How is it different from the others?
  • Question 10: If we were to do a Split Test of our landing page/checkout/{insert section you want}, what would be the level of confidence you’d want? How would you know if the test is statistically valid?

3. They write persuasive copy

  • Question 11: Create a Facebook Ad for our business based on X landing page.
  • Question 12: How would you improve X landing page headline? What would be an alternative headline you’d test? Desired Answer: You’re looking for how quickly the candidate come up with persuasive wording, and if you like the wording. After all, the ads the candidate writes represent your company!
  • Question 13: If we were to do a content marketing effort (like write an article, webinar, ebook, or white paper), which one would you choose? What would be its title and the table of contents?

4. They convert using UI/UX design

  • Question 14: Aside from Slack, what’s your favorite onboarding funnel? Why?
  • Question 15: How would you improve our onboarding? (Show them your current onboarding)
  • Question 16: Tell them they can ask questions about what you do in other channels, cases. Desired Answer: See if they think multichannel.
  • Question 17: What are some of your favorite landing pages from real companies? Desired Answer: Will tell us if they are paying attention to landing pages.
  • Question 18: How do you get inspired? How do you save things you like? Desired Answer: They should have a folder or tool they use to store cool things.

5. They know how to handle data

  • Question 19: What dashboard would you build for our business? What are 5-10 key metrics you would monitor? In what timespan?
  • Question 20: Write SQL (Structured Query Language) to query the number of {“x” events} per week for this year.

6. They’re a great communicator

  • Question 21: How would you write an email to one of our engineers to implement the changes you suggested to our landing page/onboarding? What extra info you would add? Desired Answer: You want somebody that is clear and will support things with pictures, video, and links to API documentation/libraries.

7. They a stubborn learner

  • Question 22: Can you remember something that took several experiments to crack?
  • Question 23: Give an example of a time in your life when you persisted. Desired Answer: This can be a personal experience. Do they have a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu? Have they finished an Ironman?
  • Question 24: What blogs do you read regularly?
  • Question 25: What book are you currently reading?
  • Question 26: What podcasts do you subscribe to?
  • Question 27: What are some conferences you want to attend? Courses your want to do? Desired Answer: You want to see that they are learning continuously. You also want to know how they keep themselves updated.

Depending on the candidate’s knowledge the interview can last more than an hour. Give them a heads up, and let them know you ask very detailed real world questions. You can also send some of your questions in advance via email (but send only some to ensure they don’t have a someone helping them answer).

These questions are VERY specific. If you’re not a trained growth hacker, you might not know the answers yourself. But these 27 questions will trigger good conversations, and you’ll see how much your candidate actually knows by how they explain it to you.

I honestly believe interviewing this way will save you A LOT of time, money, and headaches. You’ll avoid the Big Talkers or at least you’ll know if you decided to hire one or a half-baked Growth Hacker)! And most importantly, I guarantee, these questions will help you find a GREAT growth hacker.

FAQs

Do you have a Hiring Book/Interviewing Book to Recommend?

Who by Geoff Smart. It is a more digestible, less corporate version the book “Topgrading,” written by the author’s dad, Brad Smart (the guy who helped Jack Welch at GE). If you want a thick book to knock someone out, I do think Topgrading is a better choice. It’s boring and dry, but who says hiring should be fun!

Does he/she need to know how to code?

No. But it helps! A LOT. A least the minimum to be able to communicate effectively with engineers (depending on the engineer… this is not an easy task!)

Do they need to be proficient in all these areas?

This is about hiring a GREAT Growth Hacker, right? If you want GREAT, yeah they do.

But I understand sometimes you get what you can pay for. At least these areas / questions will help you understand their weaknesses, so they can improve or you can hire help or outsourcers to support weaker areas.

IMPORTANT: I’m talking about hiring A SINGLE person. Once you are showered with money in your Series A, B, C… Z, you’re probably better off creating a “Growth Team” where areas are covered by more than one person.

My Ask for You?

Was this article helpful? Yes?

Then PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE Share it Everywhere. Yes, EVERYWHERE.

Twitter, Facebook, GrowthHackers.com, email it to friends & CEOs.

It will help A LOT of founders conduct better interviews and avoid VERY COSTLY mistakes.

And of course… let me know on Twitter (@juanmartitegui) what you think!

If I get enough love… I’ll write next about How to Create & Train a Growth Hacker (with training resources included)… This is great if you can’t hire a growth hire with enough experience or expertise.

 


Made in Argentina, Juan Martitegui is the Founder of VirtualiaNet, The Biggest Teleworking School in the Hispanic Market. With more than 11,000 students (and growing rapidly), he and his team teach people how to find and perform in jobs they love without commuting or going into a traditional office. When Juan is not working on his businesses, he is probably finding great startups to invest on as a 500 Startups Venture Partner in the 500 startups fund, reading some strange book on evolutionary psychology and persuasion, trying to improve his Rubik’s cube solving times, or spending time as a father of Pedro and Felipe and husband to Marina. For more from Juan, follow him on Linkedin or Twitter.