SEO How To Hire An SEO Expert: 5 Questions To Ask Marketing Candidates To Ensure The Right Hire

One of the most challenging and daunting tasks every entrepreneur faces is hiring the right qualified candidate. Hiring is time-consuming, and it can be very expensive—and even detrimental – if you hire the wrong person.

Unfortunately, hiring is a necessary evil when you’re growing your business. And as a company expands, one candidate that almost every business will need to find is a marketing specialist.

As an individual with a background in starting and growing a midsize global digital agency, I had to autonomously start a marketing department and create a hiring process to ensure we found qualified people who were the perfect fit for the team.

I learned then that the biggest problem employers face when hiring marketing “experts” is that everyone says they can do it. It’s easy to say it and I’m sure if you had to hire someone, you know what I’m talking about. Truth is, very few truly can deliver on what they promise.

When interviewing for any position in the digital field, every candidate will have a great resume and will say “I can do the job,” but unless you know how to ensure they are qualified, you really won’t know if they can do it or not.

Here are two quick examples that show this in action.

When we search for top designers, they will show us some of the nice websites they’ve worked on and they will take all the credit. Yet, when we give them a design test during the interview process (we give them a wireframe and ask them to do a mock up design in photoshop based on the wireframe) what they return in the allocated time is nowhere near as beautiful as the work they previously presented.

Usually, that’s because when they worked on their portfolio designs alongside a team and were not the lead designers.

Another quick example leads us to our developers. We once had a recruitment company send us someone who they claimed to be a senior developer, Yet, when we asked simple development questions, the candidate didn’t get one right.

Needless to say, it was an uncomfortable conversation for both of us – particularly when he finally admitted that he wasn’t really the developer on those projects, but more of a QA engineer.

Regardless, he easily fooled the recruitment company into thinking he could ask for and rightfully deserve a senior developer position AND salary.

Although these candidates weren’t marketers, the same thing can happen in that field. It’s far too common for a social media candidate to pretend to they know in-depth strategy, or a digital marketer to embellish their experience with email marketing.

So many young companies have been burned by hiring the wrong candidates – and hiring the wrong marketing candidates not only sets you back but creates extra lost opportunities.

To help keep your recruiting process on the straight and narrow, I’m going to share with you my process for hiring a marketing candidate. This fits particularly well with an SEO agency or specialist interview, but it can ultimately be used for any marketing candidate.

Throughout the hiring process, be sure to:

Identify the responsibilities and goals of this position BEFORE you start interviewing people.

Whenever you hire someone, it’s your duty to determine the responsivities they hold and the goals you want them to achieve. You can’t properly hire for a position if you don’t know when they need to do. What’s more? If you aren’t doing that, you aren’t qualified to interview a candidate or make the hire – it’s as simple as that.

When hiring for SEO specialist, the terms I put are as follows:

  • An excellent copywriter with strong organizational skills
  • Excellent communication skills, especially via email (this is critical for link building)
  • The ability to create comprehensive weekly and monthly marketing reports

Take each candidate through their paces to make sure they are highly skilled and qualified.

This is where you differentiate the candidates who say they can from the ones who really can. Here’s a list of the main questions I ask candidates that typically show their real knowledge and true marketing colors.

5 questions to ask when interviewing SEO marketing specialists:

  1. Please provide 3 SEO case studies: List the URL’s of 3 site’s you have optimized, list the tasks of what you did, over what period of time and what the results where.
  2. Take a look at our website and tell us 3 onsite optimization tactics we implement to improve it.
  3. Which keywords do you think we should go after and why?
  4. Should you start as our SEO specialist, what do you expect to achieve in the first 3 and 6 months?
  5. How do you stay on top of SEO trends?


Hiring anyone for a position at your company is a big deal, but building the right marketing team is particularly important. At the end of the day, don’t just take people at their word. Instead, ask candidates detailed questions and test them on their knowledge to ensure they are the perfect fit for your company.

You deserve to feel comfortable and at ease with all hiring decisions, and a little legwork upfront makes the payoff so much sweeter.

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