Stop asking candidates to make a marketing plan for your job interview process

Jane Elizabeth
The Startup
Published in
15 min readDec 8, 2018

Let’s take an example from real life

After a successful phone interview with a startup, my friend received this email.

I hope you’ve been well! I had a chance to connect with Beter, Bohn, and Bephen, and we are all very excited to continue exploring the opportunity with you. For next steps, we’d like to do a two-part process — a project portion and an onsite portion.

Below is the prompt for the open-ended project. Once you have completed, we’d love to invite you to come meet the rest of the team and discuss your thinking with us. Can you please let me know a few times that might work next week?

Let me know if you have any questions. Looking forward to it!

Objective: This exercise is designed to replicate some of the work you’d do at AI-Blah-Blah. We’ve intentionally limited the task description to keep things open-ended and to better understand your thinking.

Project prompt: Develop AI-Blah-Blah’s 6-month marketing plan if the objective is to create an inbound lead strategy. Include execution strategy and rationale, as well as sample press release, content, or campaign (no design required)

Output: Presentation of up to 7 slides + sample.

Sources: Anything you need! A confidential overview is linked below, and let me know if a quick product demo would be helpful.

Timeline: Within the next week (let me know if this is a challenge)

My friend responds:

Hi Boe,

Thanks for the note. I loved connecting with Beter, Bohn, and Bephen and I’m excited about what you’re building.

At this point, I think it’s best for me to cheer you on from the outside. I can tell from this exercise that the role isn’t at the right level for what I am seeking to do next. It’s disappointing, but it’s always better to identify misalignment now rather than later in the process.

Wishing you the best in your search,

Super-star Marketer

Boe responds:

Hey Super-Star, thanks for the note. Can you…

Jane Elizabeth
The Startup

For marketing folks at startups who use data, tell stories, want better results, and to be happier at work.