How to Create an Effective Marketing Candidate Selection Strategy

Several professional headshots up on a screen

When you consider the many steps in the recruitment and selection process, weeding out the bad candidates from your pool of applicants seems like the easy part. Once you’ve overcome the initial hurdle of attracting qualified candidates, oftentimes it’s choosing among the top three or four applicants that proves to be the biggest challenge.

With so much at stake, there’s a very slim margin of error for mistakes in selecting the right candidate for the job. That’s why a comprehensive selection strategy should be a key piece of your recruitment puzzle. Having predefined employee selection methods to use and follow with every open role creates consistency among your recruiting efforts and allows you to fine-tune your selection process with time, so you get better and better at offering the job to the right person the first time around. This not only breeds more productive, satisfied employees, but cuts down on your hiring time and costs.

Read on to learn how to create an effective candidate selection strategy to choose the best talent for your marketing roles.

Step to Create an Effective Marketing Strategy

1. Define the process

The first step in building a marketing candidate selection strategy is to outline the process your recruitment team will follow each time you’re making a new hire. You likely already have an idea of the steps this entails; recording them in an official plan ensures no steps are missed and the process is done the same way each time.

As part of this step, you should also define the objectives you’re aiming to fulfill. While the qualities you’re looking for in a candidate may vary by role, you should have an overarching mission that guides your employee selection methods regardless of the position. It might be to hire candidates who live your brand values, win talent that’s going to grow with you as the company grows, or whatever else it is that makes a candidate a perfect fit in your eyes. Defining exactly what that is will make it easier to identify who fits the bill—and who doesn’t—when you’re comparing a pool of candidates.

2. Outline clear selection criteria

Now that you’ve defined the steps in your recruitment and selection process that will be used for all open marketing positions, it’s time to get specific about the individual position. Your selection criteria are the qualities and skills that serve as the ruler by which you measure applicants. These might be practical skills, like ‘expert-level proficiency in Photoshop,’ or more conceptual qualities like ‘has the ability to help opposing parties find mutually agreeable solutions.’

As you can see, some of the selection criteria will mirror what’s listed in the job description, but it will also include those less-tangible qualities that are ascertained through interviews and assessments.

3. Enlist the right people 

Have you ever hired a candidate to tackle a certain challenge, only to discover later that they lacked the skills to get the job done? This is less the fault of the candidate and more the fault of having the wrong decision makers in the room when selecting them. Whatever qualities you defined in step two, you need decision makers who can actually identify those qualities involved in the hiring process.

Let’s say you’re looking for a digital marketing manager with deep analytics knowledge. If you rely solely on HR to narrow down candidates, you risk misidentifying candidates’ skills in this important technical area. Instead, you can do one of three things: involve someone with analytics knowledge in the selection process, train your selection committee on how to identify analytics skills, or incorporate tools like skills tests to assess candidates in this area (or use some combination of all three of these tactics).

It’s important to think this through in the early stages of hiring to ensure that individuals with the appropriate expertise are included in the selection process.

4. Use selection tools 

Assessment tools like personality tests, skills tests, and sample assignments can all shed light on a candidate’s fit for the job. Building on the groundwork from steps 1-3, identify what, if any, selection tools you’ll use to gain additional knowledge to aid in your decision.

5. Consider conjunctive vs. compensatory employee selection methods

Candidate selection strategies typically follow either a conjunctive or compensatory model. While the steps in them are the same, they differ in the way candidates move through the steps.

In a conjunctive employee selection model, candidates move sequentially from one phase of the hiring process to the next. If they do poorly in any phase, they’re eliminated from the running before moving on to the next phase. For example, if a candidate didn’t wow the hiring manager during the interview phase, he’d be taken out of the running before moving on to a sample assignment.

In a compensatory selection model, all candidates go through all phases of the hiring process with a score assigned at each phase. The final selection is made by comparing all candidates’ cumulative scores. In this model, a candidate who excelled during her interviews but performed poorly on a skills test might beat out a candidate who was mediocre in both areas.

There are pros and cons to each of these employee selection methods; the one that works best for you will be unique to your organization and the structure of your hiring department.

6. Maintain consistency

To be effective, your recruitment and selection process should be consistent across locations and team members. This ensures that it can be duplicated each time you need to make a new hire and that it doesn’t hinge on any one person or department’s involvement.

Let’s say your marketing agency has branches in New York and Los Angeles. You need your team members to be able to collaborate between the two branches, work together when traveling, provide the same level of service when working with clients, and so on. It wouldn’t make sense, then, to hire your Los Angeles art director using one set of criteria and your New York art director using a different set. Though each branch might have a unique set of needs and culture norms, the core candidate selection strategy used between them should be the same.

7. Be objective

The strongest employers prioritize objectivity and diversity in their employee selection strategy. In a survey of more than 1,300 CEOs, respondents said talent diversity and inclusiveness in the hiring process were core components of competitive organizations.

Your employee selection strategy, then, should actively work to eliminate bias and provide an even playing field for all applicants. 

Related: How To Hire For Diversity 

8. Utilize strong record keeping practices

How will you track each phase of your hiring process? Conducting strong record keeping at every stage of the hiring funnel ensures all stakeholders have the proper evidence to use in the decision-making process. This is especially necessary if you have a long time-to-hire and several weeks or months might pass between meetings with different candidates.

An applicant tracking system can be highly useful here. With an ATS, you’ll be prompted to record pertinent information at every juncture of your selection process. Records are easily accessible for future review and for sharing by all parties involved in the hiring process.

Related: The Pros and Cons of Applicant Tracking Systems

It’s also worthwhile to note that some recordkeeping is required by law, both at the federal level and at varying degrees by state. Failing to keep detailed, securely stored records of a candidate’s pre-employment activities with your company could open you up to a potential lawsuit. Limiting your liability is just one more benefit of thorough recordkeeping.

9. Undergo continuous improvement 

Like your broader recruitment strategy, your employee selection process is dynamic and ever-evolving. You can and should take steps to continuously examine and improve it.

One way to do this is by taking stock of pertinent hiring metrics on a regular basis. Retention rate, hiring manager satisfaction, time-to-productivity and job performance are all good recruitment metrics that can shed light on whether your selection process is yielding the right candidate for the job the majority of the time.

Outsource Your Marketing Candidate Selection 

As you can see, there’s more to an employee selection strategy than meets the eye. Approaching each new hire on a case-by-case basis is neither sustainable nor efficient; for long-term hiring success, you need a scalable, replicable system for identifying the best candidate every time you have an open position.

4 Corner Resources takes the uncertainty out of the recruitment and selection process. We’ll source marketing candidates that offer the right mix of skills and experience to lead your company to success. Then, we’ll combine your input with our proprietary screening methods to narrow down the pool of candidates and deliver the top contenders. Whether you need to fill a leadership role like a marketing director, an entry-level position like an account coordinator or a niche technical role like a data scientist, our marketing staffing professionals have the knowledge and expertise to identify the perfect fit.

Get started by booking a consultation with our marketing and advertising hiring experts today.

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the President of 4 Corner Resources, the staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. 4 Corner is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance, and the top-rated staffing company in Central Florida. Recent awards and recognition include being named to Forbes’ Best Recruiting Firms in America, The Seminole 100, and The Golden 100. Pete also founded zengig, to offer comprehensive career advice, tools, and resources for students and professionals. He hosts two podcasts, Hire Calling and Finding Career Zen, and is blazing new trails in recruitment marketing with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn