Use these sample interview questions to verify the skills and experience of your technical SEO job applicants.
Technical SEO requires technical and analytical skills together with a good understanding of how Google and other search engines work.
In addition to that, a good technical SEO should know the fundamental rules of SEO and be able to identify if a website breaks these rules.
Finally, a technical SEO must be able to offer possible fixes to the problems identified on the website and be able to determine whether the fixes were implemented correctly.
But how can you verify that your next technical SEO hire has these skills and knowledge?
In this article, you’ll find 15 sample job interview questions that will help you decide whether the person you are interviewing is the right candidate for a technical SEO position.
Let’s get started!
The site: command is the simplest way to quickly check if a given URL is in Google’s index.
Every technical SEO should know the site: command and, ideally, a bunch of other Google search operators that allow for filtering and narrowing search results.
In addition, you may also ask the candidate how they would check how many pages are indexed by Google and what the most accurate way of doing that is.
Here your ideal technical SEO hire should demonstrate familiarity with the Google Search Console Coverage report and indicate how it differs from the site: command.
With this question, you want to see whether your potential technical SEO hire actually knows the purpose of a no-index tag and does not confuse it with blocking a page in robots.txt.
They should know that robots.txt is for controlling and optimizing crawling while no-index tags are for keeping pages out of Google’s index.
In addition, you may also ask about the best ways to protect a page from being accessed by everyone, including curious people (i.e. protecting it with a password in addition to adding a no-index tag).
If the person says that you should block such a page in robots.txt, then it means they still have a lot of SEO homework to do.
Of course, there is no definitive answer to this question. But hearing the person’s perspective on Google ranking factors may tell you a lot about their knowledge & experience.
A good technical SEO specialist candidate will:
Only a person with at least some knowledge and understanding of SEO will be able to answer that question.
A complete newbie in many cases will often present SEO myths as ultimate SEO truths without offering any of their own insights and commentary.
If you are looking for an experienced technical SEO expert, ask them to elaborate on their favorite SEO myths and how they deal with them on a daily basis.
Website crawlers are probably the most important tools for technical SEOs.
You want to make sure that your future technical SEO uses a bunch of different SEO crawlers (both desktop and cloud-based), knows how to use them efficiently, and is able to perform advanced SEO analyses with their help.
For example, everyone can plug the domain name into the crawler and start the crawl but only an experienced technical SEO expert will know:
You want your next technical SEO specialist to be familiar with all or most of the most popular crawlers, such as Screaming Frog, Sitebulb, Deepcrawl, JetOctopus, etc.
Your potential technical SEO hire should use both the Google PageSpeed Insights tool (the Google Lighthouse report) and the Core Web Vitals report in Google Search Console to analyze the speed and performance of the site before drawing any conclusions or giving recommendations.
The point with this question is to check that the person:
Ideally, your candidate also knows other speed and performance tools, such as GTmetrix or WebPageTest, and knows how to use crawlers to analyze the lab performance of pages in bulk.
In this question, you want your potential SEO hire to draw on their experience.
Even though there is no best answer here, you want to see that the person can really differentiate between low-impact, high-impact, low-effort, and high-effort technical SEO optimizations.
For example, it always makes a huge difference if you compress images on the website and convert them to JPEG or WEBP. Meanwhile, it may not really help a lot to rebuild the entire website (and use a ton of resources in the process) to get it from 92/100 score to 98/100 in PSI.
Ask for the possible reasons that come to mind.
Sometimes the solutions to problems in SEO are simple – for example, the site has no organic traffic because a no-index tag has not been removed or simply GA is not working correctly.
Other times, they require a ton of technical and data analysis that goes well beyond checking the indexability of pages.
With this question, you want the person to demonstrate their ability to look for solutions, think critically, and be creative.
Here you want the person to demonstrate:
I see people focus too much on XML sitemaps with small websites (a couple of hundreds of URLs or less) and too little on that for huge sites (multi-million-page sites).
When it comes to XML sitemaps, you want your next technical SEO hire to show that they know:
With the help of this question, you want to check if the person has their own SEO process for auditing a website.
Do they use a set of different tools to do that? Or do they rely on a fully automated audit where the tool (not the person) decides what issues the site has and what their priorities are?
At this point, you may also:
With this question, again, you want the person to demonstrate their critical thinking abilities and desire to look for solutions.
There is no right answer here but an experienced technical SEO specialist should mention the following in their answers:
In addition, you may also ask the person when duplicate content is not an issue and how to check if the site actually has this problem.
If the person is saying that the site may get penalized for duplicate content, it means they have some catching up to do.
Google Search Console, in most cases, should be the number one SEO tool for technical SEOs.
You want your future technical SEO hire to share with you how they use the tool and how it helps them to achieve their SEO goals.
There is no single correct answer to that question again but you probably want them to mention the following:
Structured data can be a specialty itself within SEO but you still want your technical SEO to:
Here, you may also ask the person about the difference between structured data, rich results, and featured snippets.
People often confuse these.
This is a totally open question but the more resources the person cites, the geekier they are.
An absolute must is that they are familiar with Google Search Central, read the Google SEO documentation, and watch the SEO office hours with John Mueller.
If you hire an SEO geek, you can be sure they will never miss any meaningful SEO news and will be happy to test and implement new strategies.
Open questions are great for seeing how a person thinks and how deep their knowledge actually is.
However, yes and no questions may also help you check if a person updates their knowledge frequently and really knows this stuff.
Here are a few yes and no questions about technical SEO to ask your potential hire.
Ask them to justify their answers to get even more insight:
If your prospective technical SEO hire managed to get through all of these questions and gave you satisfactory answers, congratulations!
Chances are good that you have a pretty smart and experienced technical SEO wanting to work for you.
On the other hand, even if the candidate wasn’t able to answer all of your questions currently but has a willingness to learn and genuine interest in SEO, they may still make a brilliant technical SEO expert in some time – if you give them a chance.
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Olga is an SEO consultant at SEOSLY. She is an SEO director at Market JD and a technical SEO expert … [Read full bio]
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