Finding and retaining top notch talent is critical to the success of any business. A bad hire could cost you and thousands of dollars in lost productivity, your time (in having to go through the hiring and training process again) and God forbid, mistakes.

On the other hand a Rockstar can propel your agency to the next level. But in a pressurized industry like SEO, how do you hire a Rockstar?

1) Determine in advance what your organization needs.

SEO is too broad a term these days. As the algorithm gets increasingly more complex, more and more SEOs are finding the need to specialize. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Are you looking for someone who is focused more on In page factors or Link Building? What about Blog Writing or Social Media?
  • Are you looking for someone who can translate techie speak to the client or are they strictly behind the scenes?
  • Are you looking for a junior level person to groom or a seasoned veteran?

If you don't determine in advance what you want, you will probably be disappointed with what you get.

2) Which capabilities do they need to have and which can you train?

It is very unlikely that you will find somebody who meets all of your prerequisites (including price). Chances are very good that you will have to give on something. It's not just about the needs of the individual position, it's also about your organizations current capabilities. Where are you strong? Where can you train?

For example an In page SEO will have a strong knowledge of Advanced html, CSS, and JavaScript. If you're really lucky they will also have PHP. Whereas the perfect Link Ninja will have some technical ability (or at least the ability to train), internet experience (i.e. the ability to do advanced searches) and strong writing skills.

Both roles require creative problem solving and a genuine PASSION for what they do

I knew that the passion word would get your attention :)

3) What questions are critical to the interview?

There are a number of really good posts listing SEO interview questions. The Mat Hat and Stoney's post's immediately come to mind. Obviously your interview isn't going to go for 5 hours. So which questions do you choose? The most critical questions are those that help you to ascertain real skill level.

Most people don't set out to intentionally deceive you in interviews.

But they do (deceive I mean).

You don't know what you don't know. It's called the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Incompetent people tend to overestimate their skill level where really good people tend to underestimate their skill level.

Kinda makes interviewing tough huh?

That's why it's critical that you ask follow up questions that challenge what they just said.

Do you have __________ experience? Then how do you ___________ (ask a technical question. Don't worry about offending the expert)

4) Once you've done all of that and made your decision

The best way to ensure that you've got a Rock Star is to let people work to their strengths. When you allow for loose job descriptions and new ways of thinking, you'll be surprised at how people can shine.

Just remember, there is a Rock Star in all of us.