Talent can be difficult to find. Good talent can seem nearly impossible, especially if you’re looking to hire an SEO or digital marketing professional where many can talk the talk but few are able to execute. Not only that, but with the number of growing job openings in the field, competition is fierce to grab good marketing professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Digital Marketing jobs are expected to increase more than 14% between 2014 and 2024.
When you do get a chance to hire an expert, how do you know he or she is really top notch? Here are nine questions you can ask applicants that separate the good talkers from the good talent.
1. What is your specialty? What does that _____ entail?
Basic, but tells a lot. You’re looking for someone to fill out that T-shaped marketer – we call them “general specialists” – someone who understands the breadth of all digital but has immense focus in one area. Pry them on their specialty. You’ll be able to see who’s really passionate.
2. What blogs do you read? Tell me about an article you recently read that stuck out to you.
You want to see that keep up with the industry, but asking about a specific article will let you know they actually read them rather than naming a laundry list of blogs they’ve heard of. Probe them on the article’s details.
3. Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses? Why?
This question separates the single-task people and the multitaskers, but it catches people on their toes. Either answer can do depending on what you’re looking for, but make sure they back it up.
4. A client asks you to build a strategic plan for their website. What steps would you go through?
You’re looking for consultative here. They mention a few questions they would ask clients to understand the business goals. Bonus points if they ask you to clarify if it’s for a new or an existing website.
5. How do you measure success?
If they say rankings, you can immediately cross them off your list. Bonus points if they talk about different things they’ve tried measuring and explain what worked and didn’t. If you really want to get deep, have them log into their analytics and walk you through what they see.
6. How do you scale?
SEO professionals and digital marketers could spend 1,000 hours testing different things. Sadly, we have to adhere to these pesky things called budgets. Here, you’re looking for examples of tactics they’ve implemented that can scale to multiple clients, and it’s not just a one-and-done thing.
7. Explain to me how you make a BLT.
You’re looking for detail here. If they just slap the bacon, lettuce, and tomato between two slices, they’re probably not great at details. If they launch into a 3-minute explanation that leaves your mouth watering, you’ve got a detail-oriented person on your hands.
8. Tell me a story in 90 seconds. Your time starts now.
Clients put us on pressure all the time, and you have to be ready at a moment’s notice. This question will show you if they’re prepared to handle it. Look to see they’re well spoken and can talk comfortably, even if it isn’t the most exciting story.
9. What’s your favorite website? Analyze it for me.
A live website audit is harsh but could tell you more about the person than any of the previous questions. Have them talk aloud while they analyze the site, showing what they look for and why and what their finding. Sometimes, I’ll even pull up my company’s website and ask them to walk me through an audit.