If you’re like me and have scoured LinkedIn looking for potential SEO candidates, you’ve found many profiles that contain words like SEO, inbound marker, search marketer, etc. If you’ve hired through job postings, you’ve probably weeded through mountains of resumes from prospects who sound like the ideal candidate. The truth is—good SEOs are hard to find and what’s printed on resumes and published on LinkedIn can be misleading. This holds true for entry-level roles all the way up through senior management. As a hiring manager, I’ve experienced it first-hand.
Below, you’ll find my top 10 tips to consider when interviewing for an SEO role. Not all of the tips will be applicable for every SEO hiring decision; but, this should be useful as a reference.
- Dig deep: Standard interview questions like, “What’s your greatest weakness?” won’t help you find the right SEO. You’ve got to dig deeper.
- Use Google: Visibility is a huge component of SEO. Without good rankings, your site(s) won’t be able to capture the potential opportunity from organic search results. Google your interviewee’s name (the Google resume) and see if they’ve got good coverage on the first page of search results.
- Ask for a Blog: An interview alone won’t give you a perfect view in to your applicant’s philosophies and points of views. Reading a candidate’s blog posts can give you a better idea of the applicant than any list of questions on an interview sheet.
- Ask about training: I’ve interviewed some candidates who have “learned” SEO from reading blogs and articles. It’s important to make sure that the SEO you’re hiring comes from a good search pedigree. Ask the applicant to share the names of the SEOs who trained them and then Google those references.
- Social stalk: Look at your applicant’s public social networks (e.g., LinkedIn & Twitter) and check out what types of content they are sharing. You want to make sure that your candidate is passionate about SEO and marketing in general. Passion drives performance.
- Look for a 360’er: While being solid at SEO is vital, you also want to make sure that your candidate understands other aspects of digital marketing. Have your media team discover the level of familiarity the candidate has with paid channels PPC, affiliate, display, etc. Have your user-experience and IT teams validate that your candidate is up to par in those practice areas as well. Your candidate doesn’t have to be experts in those fields—they just have to know enough to work well across your enterprise or clients’ enterprise.
- Assign a project: If I’m still interested in a candidate after the first interview, I’ll assign a project and ask the interviewee to come back and present. Typically, I’ll find a term that isn’t ranking well and request they present a strategy on what they’d do to move that keyword to the first page of search results. Of course, pick a project that’s important to your needs. This helps gives me insight into a candidates thought process and presentation skills.
- Run scenarios: Within any agency or brand, there are organizational hurdles that need to be overcome. It’s important for you to have an idea about how an SEO expert would respond to the types of scenarios that you deal with on a regular basis.
- Ask disagreement questions: We all know the blogosphere is full of editorial opinionated content. And while much of this content is well-written and spot on, some of it is way off the mark. It’s important that you ask your candidates specifically about what they’ve read and disagreed with. Get specifics.
- Futuristic: A good SEO professional looks into the future of search engine marketing and has a POV on what’s to come. Make sure that your candidate has thought about the future. Keep an eye out for an interviewee who appears to be putting his or her thoughts together at the moment you ask—this should be a topic that the candidate has thought long and hard about.
In closing, I wish you the best in your hiring journey; may the force be with you.
For more info on SEO resource management, check out this recorded webinar with Conductor’s Brian McDowell and Distilled’s Kate Morris: Successful Strategies for SEO Resource Management