How should I prepare for my SEO interview?  That is one of the most common questions Onward Search recruiters receive from our candidates once they have been presented to our clients for a position.  We’ve put together a quick checklist to ensure you are ready to go for your next interview.


SEO Interview Preparation Checklist  Download the PDF


The Days Leading Up To the Interview:

  • Review Your Online Reputation
    • SERP Ownership – Run a search for “your name” on each of the major engines and see what comes back.  Get a feel for how visible you are in the results and if examples of your best work show up on the first page of results.  If there is anything negative related to your personal search make a note of it and be ready to talk about it if it is brought up in the interview.
    • Monitor Your Personal Brand –Set up Google Alerts and/or Trackur to monitor “your name” so you know what a potential employer can see about you online.
  • Research the Company
    • Company History – Know how the company started and how it evolved to where it is today.  Know what industry the company is in and who their competitors are.  Business Week has a great directory of public and private companies to start your research.
    • Company Status – Are they making headlines or sailing under the radar?  Search for them on Reuters.  Do they have a lot of job openings? Search for them on Indeed so you know what jobs are currently active.  If they are public, what do their financial statements say?  Yahoo! Finance has some of the best financial news and Big Charts does a great job of visualizing it.
    • News Alerts – Search for the company you are interviewing with on Google News and Technorati and get a feel for what news is going around and what people are saying about the company.  Set up automatic alerts for the company using Google Alerts.
    • SEO Strategy – Tear the company’s website apart.  Anticipate you will be asked for your opinion on their current online marketing strategy.  Be ready to demonstrate you have researched their existing strategy and have taken the time to prepare recommendations on how they can improve moving forward.
    • PPC Campaigns – Start by doing some light keyword research.  See if the company is running paid search ads and get a feeling for the scope of their campaign.  Start by checking if they are bidding on their own branded terms and then expand to generic and eventually long tail terms.
    • Competitors – Research who their competitors are and how they stack up to the company you are interviewing with.  Compare each company’s online strategy and determine if there is anything the competitors are doing that is giving them an advantage.  SEOBook has a great set of tools to assist you with competitive research, and these tools can be used to research the company you’re interviewing with as well.
    • Research who you will be interviewing you – Find out who you will be interviewing with and their role(s) within the company.  Search for them on Linkedin and see if you have worked with any of the same people, in competing companies, or share any of the same interests.  These factors can be very important when developing a rapport with your interviewer.
  • Prepare Questions
    • Assuming you’ve done the above research, it should be pretty easy for you to come up with a couple questions about the company that you would like answered.  This could be related to their industry, growth strategy, benefits, search marketing strategy, or other areas.
    • We recommend you put together at least 5 questions for your interview, so you are able to not only learn more about the company but also use it as a means to demonstrate your interest in the business.
  • Review Your Resume
    • At this point your resume should be in good shape, considering it has already landed you an interview.  However, before you go into the interview you want to do one last review to align it with the company/position you are applying for.
      • Review the messaging – Do your objectives match with position you are applying for?
      • Typos – The last thing you want is typos and grammatical errors.  Have a friend or trusted colleague take a look at your resume to catch anything you might have missed.
      • Language – Do you use any industry jargon in your resume? If so, make sure the company you are interviewing with will understand it.
      • Additional Resume Resources – review some of Onward Search’s articles on resume preparation: 5 Keys to Improving Your Search Marketing Resume, and Get Your Search Marketing Resume Indexed By a Recruiter 
  • Map Your Route
    • If this is an in-person interview, ensure you know how to get to the company and how long it will take you to get there.  You might want to do a dry run if you don’t know the area.  Print out directions in advance so it is one less thing you are scrambling to do on the day of the interview.  I recommend using Google Maps.  It is much cleaner than MapQuest and you can easily change the route if you know where you might get stuck in traffic.
  • Prepare Your Clothes (and Yourself…)
    • Again, for an in-person interview, you should figure out what you are going to wear and most importantly that it is clean.  You don’t want to assume your lucky interview shirt is clean, only to find out the day of the interview it’s been crumpled at the bottom of your closet since the last time you wore it.
    • Trim and clean your finger nails. (I don’t think I should need to tell you this…should I?)

The Night Before/Day of the Interview

  • Set Your Alarm
    • Snooze, AM/PM, Volume – these are all your friends, but can also be your enemies.  Make sure you have them set right so you aren’t scrambling to make up for lost time.?        If your interview is in the morning, consider setting a second alarm in case you ignore the first.
  • Get Adequate Sleep
    • Just as it has been since you were taking tests in middle school, sleep can be a giant game changer when it comes to performing well in an interview.
  • Wash and Dress
    • Another one in the “shouldn’t have to tell you” category: scrub up so you are fresh and clean for your interview.  You don’t want the interviewer to be able to smell your nerves so remember deodorant.  Once you are fresh, put on the clothes you made sure were clean and do any fine tuning necessary.
    • If you have a dirty mouth, stick a bar of soap in it, foul language is a big NO-NO for interviews.
  • Review Industry Blogs
    • This is very important.  Read and check the latest headlines for related industry and SEO blogs.  Interviewers commonly ask questions about current industry events, popular blogs, and thought leaders to test your knowledge of the space and their industry.
  • Bring the Essentials
    • A pen and pad of paper.
    • Enough copies of your resume for each person you are meeting with, and five extras so you are prepared if you meet with additional people.
    • A list of websites you have worked on and the keywords you have optimized them for.
      • Make sure to filter the list for sites you are still receiving high rankings on.
  • Adhere to the 15 minute rule
    • You should be ready to go for the interview 15 minutes before the scheduled time.
    • For an in-person interview, give yourself a cushion to get to the interview on time, so if you hit a little traffic you will avoid showing up late and starting the interview off on the wrong foot.
    • For a phone interview, clear your desk and have any reference materials ready 15 minutes prior to the start so you are not scrambling at the start of the interview.   

Good luck!  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at


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