Evaluating PPC talent, part 2: The test
In part 2 of his series on evaluating PPC candidates, columnist Brett Middleton shares some tests you can administer to determine whether a potential hire is a good fit for your business.
Previously, we discussed how to find good PPC candidates for your particular company, but now it’s time to evaluate those candidates.
It comes down to this: You’ve held dozens of interviews with candidates almost impossible to tell apart. They all have similar credentials. They’ve worked in the right industry or environment, have used similar tools to what your paid media team uses and didn’t hesitate to answer your questions. But what’s next?
The technical assessment of your PPC hire may be the thing you’ve most overlooked, and it can often lead to a complete disaster.
How do we evaluate PPC talent?
You cannot properly assess how someone will fit into your team and impact your business simply by reviewing resumes and asking them a few questions to make sure they speak the language.
Unfortunately, there is also no one-size-fits-all assessment your team can find online and use. You have to start by taking an honest look at your work environment and understanding the person who will be required for the job. What tasks would this person be expected to complete daily, weekly or monthly?
If you’re a SaaS (software as a service) startup in need of speed and growth, you simply cannot afford to hire someone who hasn’t been through that; bringing on PPC manager from a local digital agency won’t get the job done. Your hire will need to understand how to deliver a plan of upcoming experiments at scale and execute on them quickly. There can’t be a learning curve.
If you’re an agency, your hire might need to be a better public speaker and salesperson in addition to having technical PPC knowledge, and they will need be able to create (and explain) reports.
By understanding the specifics of the position and crafting a test around them, you are off to the right start. And while there is no one-size-fits-all, I can share three tests I highly recommend.
Test #1: The fake report
The fake report test might be my favorite, wherein you deliver an interviewee a fake dataset for analysis. Present a sample report and ask for recommendations based on the data. Hopefully, they will dig into topics like the following:
- Suggestions on how to re-allocate budget for efficiency.
- For search, this might mean indicating search impression share.
- For social, this might mean indicating audience size and daily budget.
- What channels should be tested, given the business goals?
- Also, did they ask you about the primary KPIs for your ad campaigns? If not, it’s likely not the right fit.
- Is there an appropriate mix of prospecting and retargeting?
- Are campaigns organized in a way that makes sense? Should structural changes be made?
The suggestions above are not exhaustive, but the perfect candidate has these types of questions and thoughts from looking at your data. Let them show you how they think and make decisions.
If you use this test, consider throwing in something really strange. Give your potential hires something to question, and see what they come up with. I recommend something subtle, like duplicating click numbers several times, or having the total spend not add up — small details that would be important to capture if they were incorrect. After all, a few lines of data could seriously throw off your day, or even your month.
Here’s an example of a fake dataset you might present to your candidates for analysis, with inconsistencies highlighted in red. (Obviously, don’t highlight your inconsistencies for the candidates!)
Of course, not catching these inconsistencies shouldn’t keep you from hiring someone who is otherwise an absolutely perfect fit. But when each candidate seems to be almost identical, small details like this can be great differentiators. You want the person who digs most deeply into the data and sees inconsistencies. Incorrect data leads to incorrect analyses — and possibly incorrect actions. Incorrect data can mean pixels and tracking codes are firing improperly.
Test #2: A competitive analysis
There are several things that advertisers like to do, and checking out the competition is one of them. If you’re hiring for a position where they will have to touch Facebook Ads, the candidate who knows to follow competitor brands, engage with posts, or even go to their site and get into retargeting pool is the one to pursue.