You’ve made it to the interview and you really like that company. Now, all you need to do is to convince them that you are the right person for that position.
We are here to give you a hand.
We have asked 22 Business Owners to share with us their favorite questions when interviewing candidates. Here are the answers.
Mitch Cornell, The Webmason
Why is SEO important for businesses?
There is a lot to cover in that one simple question. I love this question because it can open up the dialogue of a person’s experience working in search. It can also exhibit how a one might navigate through a problem and show off their critical thinking skills.
Yasir Ali, Polymer
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
This gives me a sense of what drives the candidate and their medium-term goals. Alignment of personal ambitions with career is important for a happy employee-an imperative to becoming a productive team member.
Chris Castillo, Propel Digital Media Solutions
My favorite interview question is:
“What professional goals have you set for yourself in the next 6-12 months?”
As an agency, we try to hire people who are self-motivated and aspire to grow in their skills or experience. You can get a great sense of someone’s work ethic from their response to this question.
We note down this answer and, if we decide to move the person further along the hiring process, we try to find ways of helping them achieve those goals so that they understand that we value and respect them.
The two-way nature of that question, if the candidate is hired, leads to a really great start to a hopefully long-term relationship.
Tyler Cooper, Socratik
When hiring a new SEO employee, we like to ask the candidate to rate their overall SEO skill set on a scale from 1 to 10. We like to gain insight into how the potential hire sees their own abilities, and gauge their overall confidence in their expertise.
It also checks that the candidate is comfortable admitting weaknesses and can acknowledge their imperfections in an honest way. Fitting into company culture is important to our brand and maintaining a healthy team, so this provides a lot of value.
This question is great because it allows for a larger discussion about their strengths as an SEO professionals. At Socratik we place a high value on transparency in our work, and we know not everyone can be a master of all aspects of SEO.
We feel that it’s valuable to know how a new hire might fit into our overall team structure, so making sure that the new member can fit into the team in a way that is constructive and synergistic is vital.
Aaron Giaco, Brisket
The question that I typically like to ask any interviewee is the following: “Among the people you have worked with in the past, who do you admire? Why do you admire this person?”
The reason that I like asking this question is that I believe it is a great window into discovering personality and motivation. It tells the interviewer about the person — whether they actually do admire people, and what specifically they admire.
First off, I believe that any successful person admires others because seeing the good in others is imperative in seeing the good in yourself. In addition, knowing what a person admires tells you about their motivations, who they wish to become, and how they want to improve as a person. These are very important factors in determining whether someone is a great fit.
Garrett Nafzinger, Garrett Digital
I’m a bit unconventional in how I conduct interviews. I like to get to know a bit about the candidate’s interests and passions.
How do they spend their free time? Have they ever mentored or been mentored? Who do they look up to in their personal and professional lives?
Then I like to move on to problem-solving. First, I ask about a simple problem. Next, I want the candidate to think through a more complex problem.
I’m hoping to hear steps they’d take and if they’d engage with others for answers. It’s also nice to see if they are interested in finding the root cause of the problem and if they think about how to prevent it from occurring in the future.
Chris Labbate, SEOBANK
My favorite interview question to ask new hires is…
“What makes you angry in the workplace environment?”
This catches most people off guard, as they stick to what is safe… Like talking about their skill-sets and past experience.
By asking this question you are gauging how open and honest they are about any shortcomings. In essence, you are seeing if they are comfortable with vulnerability. Which can be a very important trait for your company.
Workers who are vulnerable, open up more and are comfortable, being uncomfortable. Having good emotional intelligence is as important (if not more so) than traditional job skills.
These candidates tend to focus on building relationships more than building the business. Creating deep meaningful relationships is key to the groups progress and working together as a functional team.
Always remember success is about 90% people skills and only 10% technical skills (The Go-Giver) of any professional career.
Skyler Reeves, Ardent Growth
Have you ever created a documented process for completing a task that others followed?
We’re always looking for people who can move up the hierarchy. One of our criteria for doing that is the ability to document what you do so well that you can replace yourself when you get promoted.
Jason Schulz, Maid2Match
One of my favorite questions to ask in an interview is always:”If I were to call your last boss, what is the worst thing he/she would say about you?” And then following this up by asking them the best thing their boss would say.
Most candidates are poor or highly prepared when answering what are their strengths and weaknesses. This question opens things up and gets them talking about their strengths/weaknesses more easily.
You aren’t looking for candidates without weakness. Rather where their weaknesses work for the role they are in and their strengths can be exaggerated.
Carlos Obregon, Bloom Digital Marketing
My favourite interview question is “did you have any trouble finding our office?”. Because we all know that in many cases the person being interviewed has never before been to the office and they are usually not familiar with the area, the building, etc.
If the person being interviewed complains about how hard it was to find the building, the lack of parking in the area, and maybe even the concierge in the building lobby you know you have a future whiner in your hands!
If, on the other hand, the prospective employee seems optimistic and does not bring up the annoyances of coming to the interview, then you know you have someone who is adaptable and does not get hung up when issues arise.
In these times when the interviews may not be done in person but via video conference, the same question can be asked but from a different angle, it could be something like, “Did you have any trouble connecting?” or ” What do you think about having frequent video calls?”.
Ron Balofsky, KAMG
What is the most challenging element in SEO today? I would have to say is that the space is ultimately competitive, sheer competitive space with all the other businesses vying for the same first page of Google.
The amount of work that has to go in to diversifying and maintaining your digital presence can often be more than a full time job. Thankfully there are companies out there that handle this for you and I highly recommend businesses take advantage of these agencies.
Victor H, Singapore Stock Photos
My favourite interview question is targeted to mostly freelancers, since we hire them the most.
I like to ask what they are working on on the side, outside of their day job and freelancing gigs.
Most of the time we put the work in for outside activities are done out of passion, and they always somehow come off as a useful trait for work.
I.e if you are good at escape rooms & puzzle solving, you tend to be good at problem-solving & creativity – since those are just finding unique ways to solve problems.
Since what we mostly doing is conventional SEO campaigns for lead generation + digital assets.
It really helps when someone does a unique link building/SEO campaign and find new, unique ways to grow digital assets that’s out of the norm. There’s always room for innovation when it comes to standing out. Gets you way better results in comparison to SOPs.
Josh Jordan, Prehired
My absolute favorite question to ask anyone who we’re considering hiring is “What do you want?” It’s so simple and so powerful.
Most people will spill their deepest desires if they think you may be able to play a role in helping them realize those things. I find it’s really helpful to know what they want to optimize for, whether it’s earning potential, flexibility, influence, or something else entirely.
Once you know what motivates a person, you can ultimately figure out how to help them – or not, if it’s not a good fit. And that’s okay too.
We’ve had candidates that really valued flexibility, and were able to put them in a position where they can work basically whenever they want as long as the work gets done. Others are more focused on earning more, and we’re able to put them in a position where they can, based on performance.
Charles Helms, Tracking Advice
When we hire at TrackingAdvice, we usually ask the logical question “How do you cut a cake into eight equal slices by cutting it only thrice?” Interesting question, right?
Based on our internal analysis, out of 10 candidates, 8 are not able to answer it. Here, we are not looking for an answer. If he/she gives the correct answer then it’s great. But, we want to check what is candidate’s problem-solving ability? Whether he/she tries to think of the solution or not?
Sometimes, many candidates just give up on this and say NO even if we give some time to think. This also shows how much a candidate is willing to put in efforts.
The answer to the above question is We make two cuts perpendicular to each other which makes four equal parts and then we cut one more time along the other dimension.
Charles Helms – Co-Founder, TrackingAdvice
Chris Sloane, Heaviside Digital
My favorite interview question is actually a series of questions designed to expose great interviewees who are less than truthful. I don’t remember where I learned it, but have seen it talked about in several places.
The series starts with asking about their previous role, what they liked about it. Then, I ask for their prior manager’s first and last name. Then I’ll ask what they didn’t like about the previous company or role. These are all pretty standard so far, but now it gets to the critical part.
The next question is “What is your previous manager’s email?” Any hint of evasiveness here is your first red flag.
The next question is “What do you think your previous manager would say about your performance?” followed by “Do you think they would recommend you for this role?” The interviewee who is honest has no problems here.
The candidate who has been misleading you about their prior record is now busted, and it will show up immediately.
Justin Herring, YEAH! Local
My favorite interview question I always ask is:
“For the last few companies you’ve been at, take me through: a) When you left, why did you leave? (b) When you joined the next one, why did you choose it?”
This question always gets them talking and will walk you through the good and bad of their previous employment plus give you insight into how they will perform at your company. It will also tell you if they are thinking big picture or just going through the motions.
With this question, you can usually tell if they had issues with other employees (could be a red flag) or just outgrew the position. I try to dig deep into their reasons as they can be a good sign whether they will work well with your company.
I also like to ask about the transition between jobs and if they left on good terms. You can tell a lot about a person who leaves a company but their boss still thinks highly of them.
James Lee, Monetized Future
Over the years I have worked hard on refining my interview process when it comes to hiring new employees.
I found that my best employees will be the ones who are already passionate about some aspect of my industry.
For me that means I want them to have some sort of ambition moving forward in the world of internet marketing.
Potential employees who are already working on side/passion project are the ones that I want to hire, so my favorite interview question to ask is:
“Are you currently working on any personal projects in the IM space?”
Many employers would see hiring an employee with their own side projects as a negative, but I see it as a positive.
Most employees will leave at some point anyway, so I would rather have one that really loves the industry. They will always be your top hires from an ROI perspective.
Tommy Gallagher, TopMobileBanks
I have done a lot of interviews in the past—hundreds, if not thousands. I didn’t learn or read books about it and didn’t have a lot of HR help. So I was learning it from the everyday experience and hopefully became much better at it over the years.
The most important to me is how a person can speak and analyze past fails and mistakes.
Such a conversion is easy to start with questions like:
Tell me about your three biggest fails over your career
Tell me about your most significant missed opportunities
The ability to speak freely, honestly, and genuinely on such topics shows the strong personality of who is ready to learn from the mistakes and do much better in the next projects.
Besides it, such questions show how deep a person can analyze business processes and understand what kind of efforts will work in the future.
If you are happy with such a conversation, then it is very likely that you have the right candidate in front of you.
Charli Burbidge, Petz
Is it better to be good and always on time or great and late with your work?
There is no right or wrong answer here, it’s more about how they go about justifying their answer and explaining how one works over the other. It can show their critical thinking and what to do when put under pressure by the question, as both answer have their pro’s and cons.
Aligning to how your business works is the key here. If you have a team of perfectionists, you may be looking for a doer, rather than an overthinker, and on the other side you may want someone to lead by example – quality over quantity.
Kevin Dam, Aemorph
One of my favourite interview questions is to ask candidates where they see themselves in the next 3 years time, including what they’re doing, where they might be (physically), what new skills they’ve learnt, what salary they want to be on, even what their relationships are like.
This insight helps me understand the motivations of an individual and whether or not it’s aligned to our company, how we can help them while they’re working with us and how we’re planning for the future together. Finding new team members is very time consuming so we want the relationship to be long term just like our clients.
If we understand team members motivations, expectations and can align with them then it’ll help to make our relationship with them better as well. People also like to see growth so working together with them on these plans will benefit both parties.
The creme on top is team members genuinely believe you care – this is a must!
Ethan Taub, Debty
“What’s the differences between someone who is good in your role and someone who’s great in your role?”
I ask this question because I run a very tight ship here. I don’t want just good people here who match with my current employees, I want the very best of the best to help raise the standard of my average employee.
This question helps me separate the wheat from the chaff. If a candidate can answer this question with supreme confidence, you know that they have experience and they know what it takes to excel at this job. Dragging up the standard across the company and setting impeccable standards for existing staff.
The confidence is key here, as well as specific points and attributes my high performers possess.
Lastly, the best candidates should know their processes and role inside out, and if they think too long over this question it’s a red flag for me.
Florian Behr, Traffic lab
What is your favorite task? What process do you follow to complete it? What tools do you use and why? The answers give a lot of insight into the candidates preferences, level of professionalism, and experience.
So when hiring a link builder I would like to hear something like “I really like broken link building because it´s scalable and can be done very efficiently using pitch box.” This tells me they know what matters (getting results efficiently), they are organized, follow a process and have experience with pro tools.
About the Author
Shaurya is a Growth Marketer, behind Attention Always, who loves to try out new tools and come up with ways to help companies using those.
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