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Passing an SEO Job Interview in 2013

Passing an SEO Job Interview in 2013

Are you going to move on from your current SEO position? Take your time to get prepared and get the SEO job of your dreams. Below I have outlined some of the recommendations you can find handy for this pretty complicated process.


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As the industry of inbound marketing evolves, SEOs have to get even more prepared for tricky complicated job interviews. I’ve recently asked some of my friends in SEO about the most difficult questions they had to answer. The hardest thing for them was to discuss SEO with people who were not really proficient in the sphere! In some cases, they were even asked to reveal exact formulas for getting top rankings, Google algorithms, etc. (if that happens to you, please do show some sense of humor)!

If you are lucky enough to get interviewed by someone who IS experienced in SEO, let’s analyze what you should know and how you should talk about it in 2013.

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First things first

Just as in any other sphere, you should pay very good attention to the criterion mentioned in the job description. Read the description carefully and identify what the employer is looking for. Rankings and traffic? Pay-per-click management and lead generation? Viral content creation? Everything combined?

When you fully understand the needs of an employer, you should adapt your resume and covering letter. Additionally

  • Be friendly and professional when addressing an HR specialist or directly an employer
  • Double-check your spelling
  • Make sure your online profile looks professional too – get a closer look at your tweets, Facebook shares, Flickr pictures – everything that can be found online for your name.

Talking about your SEO experience

Your experience with promoting websites is probably the most important thing for your potential employer. Make sure that your description makes your portfolio look diverse and persuasive:

  • Describe the smallest and the biggest projects you’ve ever had, what kind of workflow you followed in each case
  • Have you worked with international projects? Did you take another approach when working on smaller local websites?
  • Describe your success and failure (or biggest difficulty), try to explain how you acted in a difficult situation (losing rankings, traffic, de-indexing, duplicate content, site getting to a “sandbox,” etc.) and what solutions you found to manage the problem.

Why not take a laptop or a tablet and showcase some of your projects – for instance you can show the screenshots or reports from Google analytics or what kind of changes you suggested for this or that website (don’t forget to blur your customers’ domain names!).


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This interaction will create a more memorable impression than just giving an oral description or a link.

Talking about link building

Here’s a tricky question once discussed at Search Engine Roundtable – what are the ways to build natural links? I’d agree with some commentators – you cannot BUILD natural links, links come out naturally on 3d party blogs and websites when you produce truly useful or viral content. Okay, so what kind of links do we build? Those that look natural.

If you need to refresh your knowledge of the ways to build links, take a look at these fantastic posts:

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If I held an SEO interview, the chances are high I would ask you about the Penguin update, the link disavow tool and your experience with it. I’d suggest looking through your current SEO data and noting down the figures in advance, so that you won’t have to answer “Well, I noticed just some minor changes…”

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Talking about SEO tools and services

SEOs tend to use a lot of tools to get more data in less time, so get prepared to talk about the tools and services you prefer. I would probably mention:

  1. The tools provided by search engines: Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, Google Adwords Keywords Tool, Bing Webmaster Tools, etc.
  2. Tools for tracking SERPs: Rank Tracker
  3. Link ideas and competition research: SpyGlass
  4. User experience analysis: ClickTale
  5. Guest blogging: MyBlogGuest, HARO
  6. PPC analytics: SEMrush

Don’t ignore the details

I bet you easily recognize the difference between CPA, CPM, CPL, and CPC? You shouldn’t have any problems with CMS, CSS, and XML either J But your potential employer can also ask about KEI (Keyword Effectiveness Index), LPO (landing page optimization) and RTB (Real Time Bidding).

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If you feel you need to refresh your industry knowledge – go ahead. (The acronyms I mentioned above can be found in this list:

Prepare your own tricky questions

At the end of a job interview, job seekers usually feel relieved and exhausted and forget about a very important part – asking your own questions. Here’s a list of some question you may ask:

  • What kind of work will I be doing in general?
  • Is this a new position that has opened up because of more work?
  • What kind of tools or software are available in the workplace?
  • How large is the team?
  • What would I be working on first?
  • Is there a budget for conferences or training?
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The way you talk during the interview can make or break whether you land your dream job or not. But you can make the most of preparation, so that your skills and experience will not go unnoticed! Good luck!


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Inessa Bokhan

SEO Lots

Inessa Bokhan is the co-founder and chief internet marketing manager at SEOlots , a startup SEO agency. She’s been working ... [Read full bio]

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