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How to Spot Proven SEO Talent in an Interview

When you’re hiring for any position, it’s important to find someone with the right skills and experience for the job. But how can you tell if someone has the SEO chops to help your business grow?  

As businesses and consumers increasingly shop online, the need for SEO talent shows no sign of slowing. In fact, the SEO industry is projected to surpass $77B by 2023.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a complex and ever-changing field, which makes it difficult to find qualified candidates when you’re looking to fill an SEO position. However, there are certain qualities that all great SEO experts share. In this blog post, we’ll give you some tips on what to look for during the interview process so you can hire the best SEO expert for your team. 

What to Look for in SEO Talent

When you’re interviewing candidates for an SEO position, there are a few key areas you’ll want to focus on: technical skills, relevance, and authority. 

Technical Skills 

First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure your candidate has the technical skills necessary to do the job. This includes things like knowing how to do keyword research, optimizing website content, and using site maps and redirects. 

You should also listen for keywords like “content strategy” and “organic traffic growth.” These are signs that the candidate knows how to create and implement a comprehensive SEO plan that will drive results. 

Keywords for blog post

Here are some of the things you should look for in a candidate’s technical skills: 

  • A solid understanding of how search engines work
  • Knowledge of common SEO tools and techniques
  • The ability to identify and fix common website issues
  • Familiarity with HTML, CSS, and other web programming languages


In addition to being knowledgeable about the technical side of things, it’s also important that your SEO expert has a good understanding of how to create relevant and engaging content. After all, what’s the point of optimizing your website for search engines if the content is boring and no one wants to read it?  

Relevance is all about creating content that is targeted toward the keywords that people are searching for. Candidates should be able to talk about how they research and select keywords, as well as how they integrate those keywords into their content strategy.

Here are some of the things you should look for in a candidate’s relevance skills: 

  • The ability to research and analyze keyword data
  • The ability to create well-written and keyword-rich content
  • The ability to optimize existing content for better search engine visibility


Finally, you’ll want to look for candidates who have a strong understanding of building authority. This includes things like link building and creating content that will earn media coverage and backlinks from high-authority websites.  

Here are some of the things you should look for in a candidate’s authority skills:

  • The ability to identify link-building opportunities 
  • The ability to create high-quality link bait  
  • Familiarity with common link-building techniques  
  • The ability to measure and improve website authority  

Consider This

If this is the first time your organization is hiring an SEO professional, it’s important to listen closely to strategies that include these keywords.

  • Site maps 
  • UTM
  • Content optimization 
  • Redirects 
  • Spider control through robots.txt. 
  • Tagging (e.g., Canonical, hreflang, structured markup) 

 These professionals must have experience using tech tools. Ask for examples of what tools they’ve worked with in the past. Here are some popular ones they may mention: 

SEO Soft Skills

At Talentfoot, we often say, “hard skills get you the interview, soft skills get you the job.” You already know what hard skills a proven SEO professional should exhibit. Soft skills are non-technical professional characteristics.  

For SEO talent, hiring managers should look to hire individuals with these attributes: 

Communication. SEO is a complex topic with its own unique vocabulary. The right candidate will have strong verbal and written communication skills, so they are able to clearly explain results and impact. 

Problem Solving. The right candidate interprets data and uncovers opportunities to improve performance. This knows to set benchmarks and goals and report against them. When a goal is missed, this SEO professional can shift strategy.  

Active Listening. This soft skill is valuable for every professional. This is how it applies to SEO talent. These individuals must absorb what they hear and apply it to their work. For example, when a company prepares to launch a new product, the SEO professional will prepare their own search strategy to complement the launch.  

Patience. Search engine optimization does not fall into place overnight. The experienced SEO professional understands that sometimes it takes months to climb SERPs (search engine result pages). SEO is a long-term project. 

Hire the Best SEO Talent

When it comes time to hire an SEO expert, it’s important to look for candidates with strong technical, understanding of relevance, and authority skills. These are the three pillars of successful search engine optimization, so candidates who excel in these areas will likely be successful in their roles.  

We recommend using an interview scorecard to reduce bias and help your hiring team assess candidates on the same scale.  

With these tips in mind, you should have no trouble finding the perfect person for your organization’s needs. Should you need help sourcing, interviewing, and selecting SEO talent, contact Talentfoot. We are here to help.