25 Interview Questions for Online Marketing Candidates

By Vistage member Mike Harris, Owner, Harris Consulting LLC 

Interviewing marketing candidates can be a dicey prospect these days. Many candidates talk a good game but how can you tell who has the knowledge and skills to succeed in the position?

The old rules of marketing, formed during the golden age of advertising, are defunct. Today it’s all about quickly finding a new wave of change in your industry, plugging into it with convincing products and services before your competitors catch on and using lots of technology to communicate compelling messages while actually reducing marketing costs.

Here are some of the best interview questions for understanding if the candidate can use the Internet to increase your competitiveness and generate sales leads.

General Marketing Understanding

  1. How do you become interested in marketing and how you got started?
  2. How would you go about producing a marketing plan that you know the company CEO will read?
  3. How would you prioritize marketing opportunities for our company?
  4. In general, what percent of a company’s total marketing budget do you believe should be allocated toward Internet marketing, SEO, SEM, website development, etc.?
  5. Do you believe traditional marketing is still effective? Explain.
  6. It takes a lot to run marketing at this company. What controls would you put in place?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Technical & Tactics
How current is the candidate’s SEO knowledge? This is critical since there’s a lot of confusion in the marketplace about what’s working and what’s not working. Your candidate must give solid answers to these questions.

  1. Are you on Facebook? Do you use Twitter?
  2. Give me a description of your general SEO experience.
  3. Could you briefly explain how page ranking is done by search engines?
  4. Can you explain the difference between Web 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0?
  5. What SEO tools do you regularly use?
  6. What areas do you think are currently the most important in organically ranking a site?
  7. Have you ever had something you’ve written reach the front-page of Dig It, Reddit, Delicious or Stumbled Upon?
  8. Which META tags matter in today’s world?

How well developed are the candidate’s campaign performance assessment skills?

  1. Are you familiar with web analytics? What packages are you familiar with?
  2. How do you evaluate whether an SEO campaign is working?
  3. What does competitive analysis mean to you and what techniques do you use?
  4. If you’ve done six months of SEO for a site and yet there haven’t been any improvements, how would you go about diagnosing the problem?
  5. How many target keywords should a site have?
  6. How do you decide how to divide your budget between organic SEO and pay-per-click SEM?

Industry Involvement
Is SEO just a job to pay the bills? Nothing wrong with that, but some senior positions can benefit from more enthusiasm and interest that can be measured by work done outside of the office.

  1. Have you attended any search related conferences?
  2. What are some challenges facing the SEO industry?
  3. What marketing sites, blogs, and forums do you regularly read?

On a final note, it’s always recommended that you trust your gut. If the candidate has the right answers and the right attitude, you’ll know it. Having the right marketer on board will help your competitiveness.
Mike Harris, Principal, Harris Consulting LLC can be reached at mike.harris@harconllc.com

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