Cut through any bull with these 8 SEO job interview questions

The SEO job market has caught fire lately!

Companies are investing more in SEO, and agencies of all sizes are scrambling to hire new SEO professionals.

I know I passed tons From the time the candidates were interviewed recently. Separating good candidates from bad ones can seem like a daunting task.

How do you make sure that the person you hire will turn out to be a good SEO?

How do you separate BS artists from practitioners?

The secret lies in the interview questions you ask!

Here are eight interview questions I love to ask job candidates in SEO.

Conduct an SEO interview

When I interview for SEO, I don’t ask the standard questions you would get at your typical interview. I’m tired of most standard interview questions.

That’s not to say someone on my team doesn’t ask them (we still need to make sure you already know SEO), but once the candidate is past that stage, I prefer a different approach.

While many SEOs will ask very technical interview questions like “what is the base tag”, I’ve found that a slightly different approach works best.

Technical knowledge is great, but trivial SEO information is easy to memorize and easy to train.

If the candidate does not know how to use a particular SEO tool, I can show it in an hour, so it is not worth asking such questions during the interview.

I’ve found that most technical SEO questions are usually the interviewer trying to show how smart they are rather than measuring the applicant’s knowledge about SEO.

Too many SEO interviews are passed out simply by letting the interviewer speak for themselves all the time. I’m not that interlocutor. As much as I love talking about myself, the interview is not the time to do this.

Instead, I prefer examining their approach to problem solving as well as their thought process, client interaction skills, and SEO overview.

You cannot train critical thinking as you can train SEO best practices.

But if I can find someone who thinks rationally, critically, logically, knows the basics, and has some technical skills, I can train them on the other things.

Best Interview Questions to Ask SEO Candidates

1. Tell me about yourself. What are you looking for in your next job?

This is the first question I ask. It’s one I’ve heard in every interview.

What do I care most about this question? What the candidate thinks is important:

  • Do they talk about themselves personally? professionally?
  • Do they go straight to their work history?
  • Did they read me things like the checklist?

There is no real wrong answer here – unless they mention qualifications like a checklist.

Talking about what they’re looking for in their next role lets me know right away if that role would be a good fit for the person, or if they would hate the role and likely quit soon.

I want to ensure that we not only meet our needs for the vacancy but also that the candidate will be happy and have room to grow. Doing so resulted in a much lower turnover.

2. Tell me about your biggest achievement in your previous job.

This simple question is my favourite. This answer, most likely, will immediately decide the rest of the interview.

You’d be shocked how many people can’t answer this question.

Take a look at your average resume. Most people list what they were assigned or assigned to do, but they don’t tell you what they actually did in that role.

Here’s the candidate’s chance to brag – to tell me their results:

  • What ideas did you come up with?
  • What is your impact on the client? (If I’m coming from an agency, I’d rephrase it as “Tell me about the biggest impact you’ve had on the client.”)

I’ll ask some follow-up questions about whatever the candidate slates are, but it’s basically just a conversation about the business to make sure he or she actually got involved in doing that and see what role the person played.

Some great follow-up questions include: “How did you measure this success?” What was the insight that sparked the idea of ​​this project? and “What is the biggest challenge in achieving this?”

3. Why SEO?

I will only ask this question when hiring for any entry-level positions or if the candidate has less than two years of experience.

I’m curious why they chose this profession. What motivates them?

If you tell me “I need a job” or “It pays well,” you don’t get the job (or you’re likely to get paid well.)

4. Tell me about your personal projects, website, blog, side activity, conference, etc.

There are two reasons for this question:

  • I want to make sure there is no conflict of interest. I interviewed a few people who wanted to keep their full time consulting with competing clients in addition to our full time job.
  • I’m trying to find someone who doesn’t stop their SEO at 5 PM (that’s the main reason I’m asking this question.)

I want someone who has a passion for research, marketing, and technology.

SEO is a job where you have to keep learning and growing, and I’ve found that people who are passionate about it will do it alone. I’m looking for ambition here too.

I’m not interested How do This passion manifests itself. You don’t need to have a blog, side business, personal website, or speak at conferences.

Just have the passion and show it to me.

5. Tell me something that most SEO professionals think is true and that you think is a BS (or something that you think is true and that most SEO professionals think is BS).

This is my second favorite question and I usually reserve it towards the end. It’s a modified version of the great Peter Thiel interview question (which I’m not a huge fan of personally).

I had to limit this to SEO or marketing, as people tend to be really politically oriented on this (flat earth, vaccines, elections, etc).

Although these are entertaining answers, they are really not work related and I don’t want to discuss them in this place.

Having said that, if you go out in a frenzy about something racist/sexist/bigot, you can bet you don’t get the job offer.

This question helps a lot in evaluating a candidate’s critical thinking skills. I look forward to seeing their reaction when you put them on right away. (I guarantee no one expected this question and it will take time to answer it.)

I want to see the candidate uncomfortable – with no ready answer – because that’s the number of customer interactions.

I also want to see candidates defend their answers because I’m going to ask some followers who are asking them to do so.

This is a great area to see if they will “align” with your SEO philosophy. You can go to things like subdomains versus directories, or pet peeves like XML sitemaps.

6. Given a random URL, let me know how you diagnose SEO issues. What is your first step?

Sometimes I also replace this with “Guide me through your approach to doing a keyword research” depending on the role and candidate.

For SEO skill sets, I like to start with an open end.

For this question, I will continue to ask, “Then what? Then what?”

I want to see how their thought process works.

Not everyone is alike. Some will start searching or doing a crawl; Others will begin to understand the goals of the business; Others will pull their checklist. (You can earn extra points if you mention one of my SEO tools.)

I am not a fan of checklists.

Also, I don’t want to hear, “I’m going to run this tool.” I want you to tell me what you use the tool to do.

For high-level roles, I often asked candidates to make a few slides on how to improve a random site.

It’s never a client site (we don’t really ask for free work). It’s usually a brand website for any clothing brand I notice that the person who wears it or cares about it I see in the background of Zoom.

Or, if they tell me they play hockey, it might be a hockey equipment manufacturer, etc.

If I wanted to be skewed about that, I’d ask them to rate wtfseo.com or something. It is always random.

7. Suppose the customer wants to do this thing. She thinks it’s a bad idea and recommends something else instead. The meeting is tomorrow to discuss. What is your game plan for the meeting?

This is my favorite default question to ask.

there he is The correct answer to this. I’m looking for an actionable and executable data-driven plan.

Unfortunately, many candidates instead offer what I call an “ego response” where they say something like “I’ll tell the client I’m the expert and they should trust me” or something similar.

This is not the person I want to hire.

8. Do you have any questions for me?

Sometimes the best interview question is not to ask a question but let the candidate do that instead!

The main goal is to give them more information about the job, ease their concerns, and make sure they’re a good fit – but you can find out Much Based on the questions they ask you.

For example, if they immediately ask about raises and upgrades, that’s a red flag telling me it might be a risk to fly.

The best way to ask this question if you are interviewed is: “What does success look like to me in this role?”

Often times, candidates will ask a question about whether they should be doing something they hate doing (like metadata or reporting), and it can help to see how they interact with teams.

(Note: It doesn’t matter what level of SEO you are, you will still be doing some “basic” SEO elements from time to time.)

to summarise

The main objective of any interview is to determine the candidate’s skills, how loyal he is to your company, and how well he fits into the culture of the company and his future colleagues. With the right questions, you can ensure that the most qualified candidates move to the next level of the recruitment process.

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Featured Image: fizkes / Shutterstock

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