Hiring for growth, here’s what you need to know

Growth hacking. It echoes like the wings of bats in a cave, like the siren of the ambulance in the distance. If you don’t hear about it, you read about. It’s a prevalent topic that dominates discussions in communities on Growthhackers, Medium, Reddit, Facebook, inbound.org… And the list continues.

Let’s face the fact. Growth hacking isn’t just a passing fad. So to the ones not yet onboard, our message is clear: jump on the bandwagon, now!


The traditional marketing landscape is changing, and consequently the traditional marketing playbook is dead… or at least it’s broken.

However, a transition to this new era does not come easily for all businesses. Especially for companies with marketing departments that have +100 years of experience combined.

It’s easy to get caught by the mentality ‘we used to do it like that’ or ‘it has worked in the past, so it will work in the future’, but this is a vicious circle that must be broken. Immediately.

But how?

One way to do so is to look for outside expertise, to find someone who can help you ease the transition from old to new and help you prepare for the future of marketing. Someone who can infuse your business with new ways of thinking and help imprint a mindset that is driven by one thing only: growth.

This “someone” is a growth hacker. But who is this growth hacker and what defines him or her?

Let’s take a closer look before we help you identify which questions you need to ask in order to find your next growth warrior.

Ryan Holiday, author of Growth Hacker Marketing, provides us with a short, but very descriptive characterisation:

‘A growth hacker is someone who has thrown out the playbook of traditional marketing and replaced it with only what is testable, trackable, and scalable. Their tools are e-mails, pay-per-click ads, blogs and platform API’s instead.’ – Ryan Holiday

In other words, the real unicorns are the ones who can go from A to Z in designing, creating, measuring, methodologically analysing and repeatedly iterating ideas.

The question is, can anyone be a growth hacker knowing the competencies we’re looking for? Let’s be honest, the answer is no.

For a long time we’ve been hunting for fresh meat (read: growth hackers) to join our team. We’ve even written a post about it, discussing: are growth hackers a scarce breed?

However, maybe the question shouldn’t be focused on whether or not growth hackers are a scarce breed, but instead how we can identify whether or not someone actually possesses the capabilities. Even though they aren’t explicitly shown in a CV or letter of motivation.

What if we went beyond what is written and instead ask the right questions? Maybe then we will find what we’re looking for, and maybe even more.

Asking the right questions

So, what questions should you ask to find that person who can help you take the helm as you embark on the journey towards the future of marketing, towards growth?

To assist you in the process of finding the perfect match, we’ve laid out several questions that we typically use in order to identify if someone really possess the right skills and mindset.

Of course, such questions may differ depending on what you are looking for, but to help you get started, these questions will get you far in figuring out whether or not a candidate is worth proceeding with.

Let’s get started. And remember to keep in mind the key competencies you’re looking for in a growth hacker as you go along posing the questions.

First of all, a growth hacker / growth marketer should know his or her basics. Therefore, start the conversation by asking relevant and specific questions to explore the candidate’s line of thinking. Such questions may include:

  • We’ve been contacted by a bakery and they want us to ‘growth hack’ their shop (yes, it’s not an online business), how would you go about reaching/ getting more customers to the shop?
  • A client of us sells high-end cigars via a web shop. The target segment consists of +50-year-old males with a lack of digital knowledge. What are your ideas as to how they can be approached?
  • If our online engagement is decreasing, what could be the cause and how would you recommend we fix it?

What can be tricky about interviewing candidates, especially when you’re new to it, is that you have to let the candidate do the talking. Especially when you’re interviewing someone for this kind of position.

You want to check for a particular mindset and way of thinking, not specifically for the “right” answers. Therefore, avoid facts and closed questions.






This leads us to the second line of questions. These focus on getting to know the candidate on a professional level, what they have done in the past in order to shed light on what they will be able to do in the future. Questions may include:

  • What has been your biggest professional success so far? Anything you could and would have done better?’
  • What are your absolute favourite tools?
  • If you could choose 3 channels, which ones would you pick?
  • What are some of your most surprising learnings from time within this field?
  • Which platform(s) do you think we still haven’t seen hit a breakthrough?
  • How do you stay tuned to the most recent innovations, current affairs, cool reads,…? 

If you haven’t already done it as part of the other questions you’ve asked so far, now is the time to probe how familiar the candidate already is with growth hacking. Breathing it day and night is definitely a huge plus. To find out, ask your interviewee questions in line with these:

  • What’s your interpretation of growth hacking? Without giving a Wikipedia description, which elements do you see as defining characteristics of growth hacking?
  • Can you provide a few examples of some of the best growth hacking techniques (Alright, Airbnb and Dropbox we all know. Have the candidate surprise you).
  • Growth hacks are often considered to be technical, but that’s not the whole truth. There are plenty of brilliant hacks that are non-technical. Can you come up with any?

Having spent some time with the candidate you’ll already have an impression of his or her capabilities and mindset. However, you might still want to test for culture fit.

Such a test can be carried out in several ways. For instance, one way to do so is by arranging an informal meeting with the team or even invite the candidate for a test day! We’ve had several great experiences with this ourselves, as such a day gives you true insights into the profile of a candidate.

Ready to invite your first applicant for an interview? Great!





We do admit that finding the right growth hire can be difficult. But remember, if you don’t succeed in finding a perfect match, growth hacking expertise may as well be brought to you by outsiders, for instance a growth hacking agency like us.

Feel free to contact us at any time if you want us to help you prepare for the new era of marketing and update your outdated marketing playbook.

P.S. We’re also looking for people with the right edge. Check out our open positions!

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