Finding the right SEO candidates has gotten tough through the years. There’s been so much change happening in the last couple of years in the SEO industry that finding someone talented, updated and with the right attitude has become really tough.
Interviewing has gotten tougher as well. I’ve had instances where the candidate corrected me a few times. (Those were really good candidates obviously.)
Kristi Kellogg from Bruce Clay has put together a nice list of questions for interviewing PPC candidates here. I thought I’ll share my set of questions for SEO interview here. Hope you find it useful.
- Can you recall something that you did on the website, recently that attributed to a difference in ranking?
The idea is to figure out whether or not the person keep tracks of changes, is meticulous and data oriented. Those who are not, will give you vague answers, but someone who is data oriented will give you the specifics.
- Where do you look to confirm search algorithm updates?
There are no right or wrong answers here. The idea is to find out whether the candidate an amateur or not. If he points out tools or sources that are not authoritative, you know what to do.
- Who are some of the SEO gurus you follow?
There are many SEO gurus out there and many people will point to the most obvious guys like Rand Fishkin and even Matt Cutts (though he isn’t an SEO). But the idea is to see how well networked the candidate is find what he thinks is a good authority. I would consider Matt Cutts as a good answer, even though he isn’t an SEO but provided the candidate knows this and only considers Cutts as a good source. Otherwise, I look forward to seeing if the candidate mentions lesser known experts, like Bill Slawski.
- What is your favorite SEO strategy?
This is an open ended question, and the objective is to identify the thought process behind goals. An expert will never give you a strategy without getting clarity on what your goals are. Most people will get started with the importance of keyword research etc.
- Which is your favorite SEO tool and why?
This too, doesn’t have a right or wrong answer. The idea is to find out what is the candidate’s maturity level and whether or not he uses his tools properly. Someone who uses Conductor or BrightEdge needn’t be mature enough if he doesn’t know some sophisticated features in them. On the other hand, if someone who uses Moz can explain the feature sets with why’s and how’s then I’d consider him/her a better candidate.
- What are your thoughts on Google Hummingbird (or some latest update)?
This questions is to find out whether or not the candidate keeps track of latest SEO updates. I’d be surprised if any candidate didn’t know that the latest update was.
- Show me a bad example of Google search result.
I’d expect the candidate to show me a Google search result that had an unfair website sneaked into the first place. For example, a website with lot of keyword stuffing going on, or another website with doorway pages. One, it is not possible for someone to make up this answer, you got to have known or come across with such a website during his research. Also, this tells a lot about the candidate’s understand of what good and bad SEO practices are.
- Which is the most important SEO metric in your opinion?
This question’s intention is to find out how the candidate backs up his/her SEo strategy to overall business goals. There is no right or wrong answer to it and it all depends on what the business goals are. For example, for a publisher, a good SEO metric would be unique visits, bounce rates, CTRs on ads etc while for a SaaS company, it might be conversions via CTAs. This is also a chance for you to understand how well the candidate plays with other marketing streams.
- What would you fix on this site?
Give the candidate a sample website. The purpose is to find out whether the candidate is thinking tactical or strategic. If he/she is tactical, then they would straight away get to things like “I’d fix the page title” etc. But if he/she is strategic, they would go for the big picture view and say things like “What is our goal?”, “I’d focus on sticky content” etc.
- How will you find related keywords to this keyword?
This is a technical question. While there are many ways to do keyword research, this is a good opportunity to see how the candidate puts his brains to use and gets analytic about it. Most people would recommend to use common tools like Google AdWords, while an experienced SEO will think about taking the data from the tools and putting his thoughts behind it, and asking questions about “search intent” and other ROI focused things.
Again, SEO interviews can be vastly different based on who you are and what your business goals are. Interviews can get technical or strategic based on the position. The above is just a guideline to what kind of questions could be asked. Hope you found them helpful.
Image credit – Udacity