Hiring for SEO can be tricky for two reasons: First, it’s difficult if you aren’t overly familiar with SEO yourself, and second, even if you do have an SEO background, it can be tough to know what questions to ask someone because it is such a new industry. Most colleges and universities don’t have classes regarding SEO, and it can currently be tough to find a writer who specializes in SEO content only. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be too difficult if you do a bit of planning ahead of time. It’s important to understand the industry and think outside of the box when it comes time to hire.
SEO Interview Questions and Possible Answers
One of the biggest things to keep in mind when hiring writers is your goal. You want to have a budget for writers and then decide how much training you’re willing to offer. If you want to jump into very advanced articles right away, you may have to pay a little bit more for a specialized writer. If you’re willing to hire someone who is a good writer and give him/her some time to learn, the way you interview might chance.
Below are some common interview questions that work well if you’re looking to hire an SEO content writer, as well as some answers that might help you make a decision:
1. Tell us a little bit about your background—where you went to school, why you chose the field you did, some of your past experience, etc.
Answer: In all honesty, someone doesn’t have to be an SEO expert to be a great SEO writer. You have to remember that it may take him/her a while to write an article because research can be tough, but it isn’t impossible to come up with a great article. It might take a while for a writer to really get a good grip on the subject, but it can happen. As stated above, it’s all about your goals and how long you have to invest in a writer.
2. Have you ever contributed guest content to a website in the past? If so, what was your process for pitching? How did you find new editors to work with? In other words, how do you analyze the sites you choose to write for?
Answer: This is something that can be taught and learned pretty easily, so I wouldn’t say this is a make or break. A good answer would be something about taking time to get to know the site by commenting and sharing content, and then sending a pitch complete with sample articles for the editor to check out. A great way to find new sites is to continually keep up with social media and check out the sites that your connections are associated with.
3. Do you work well on your own, or do you prefer to work in groups?
Answer: This was something I was asked before and it made me think. For this job, it’s important to be happy working alone and setting your own daily goals.
4. Do you have any background knowledge working with SEO related topics? If so, how do you continue to make sure you are creative and not regurgitating the same information as other blogs out there?
Answer: I typically go around to different blogs to find a topic, and then I take that topic and find a bunch of articles regarding that topic. I try to take bits and pieces of each, and the majority of the time a new angle or opinion will come to me through all of the research.
5. What do you know about your target audience, and how do you really make sure you are leaving a lasting impression?
Answer: This is a tough question to answer, but most good candidates will explain that the target audience is typically small business marketing departments. This of course depends on the type of company that the candidate wrote for in the past (which might very well be slightly different than your current audience).
6. Do you use any tools or specific strategies when writing?
Answer: There are tons and tons of different tools that a writer can use. Mentioning any sort of social tools for promotion (Buffer, SocialBro, etc.) is a great way to show that he/she understands the industry. Any talk of using analytics and analyzing CTR is also a great (and fairly advanced) answer. This is one of those questions that you’ll have a good feeling about right when it is answered.
7. What types of social networking techniques do you use to make sure your content is always earning visibility?
Answer: This is a great opportunity for the candidate to talk about the importance of Google+. This network is only going to get more important as Google begins to alter SERPs based on connections and shares, and this is something a writer should be aware of when it comes time to get involved with authorship and social sharing. You can learn more about authorship here.
8. How would you handle working with different clients?
Working with different clients often means having to change not only the topic of your work, but even the tone and style. This is where a very good writer is going to be your goal, and the research about the topic can be learned.
Were there any questions that you found incredibly helpful? If you were once a candidate, what questions seemed to catch you off guard?
Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from algorithm updates. She writes for HigherVisibility, a nationally recognized SEO agency and local SEO company.