Lately I’ve been conducting about 1-2 interviews a week. Most of the time I am interviewing for our Account Manager position. A candidate recently asked something along the lines of, “What traits or behaviors do the great account managers have that the average ones do not?” This exact question is something I spend a good portion of my time trying to figure out and duplicate.

While far from complete, here’s what I see as the greatest differences between great PPC account managers and good ones.

1. Top performers make sure goals are met, not just to-dos crossed off.

An account manager must know the difference between crossing off tasks and focusing on action that gets an account to goal. The two are not always the same, but both have to be done. For this trait you are looking for someone who does both. They get the things done the client asks for or that they have said will be done, but also do the extra work that ensures that the account is hitting goals.

2. Great account managers know when to ask for help.

There’s a line between always asking for someone to step in and going too long without getting assistance. I am looking for people who pull me in after they have identified the issue but they can’t find the exact cause. We can come together to diagnose the issue and create a strategy. Then I would expect the account manager to execute the strategy.

3. The best PPC managers know they can’t control everything that happens but they can control their response to what happens.

Bad things are going to happen that are out of your control. Getting frustrated because Google disapproved your ads, your boss changed your goals or new competition is driving up your cost per click is going to burn you out fast. Instead, focus on what you do after you get the bad news. The best take a few minutes to think through different scenarios, weigh the cost and benefit of changes, jump on the issue as soon as they learn about it and over-communicate as they work through the issue so everyone knows what is going on.

4. Spotting issues within 24 hours of there being an issue is a trait of top PPC account managers.

This is linked to the above but focuses on urgency. It doesn’t matter if you’re on vacation, have other accounts you are working on or already spent massive amounts of time on an account. When things come off the rails you have to catch it and fix it fast.

5. Being able to learn new things and implement what you learn is one of the greatest strengths an account manager can have.

Even a great PPC account manager won’t be great for long if they don’t keep learning. Too many things change too fast to not always be growing. Beyond just learning new things it is also important that account managers can implement what they learn.

Good questions to ask/be prepared for when doing a PPC interview:

1. Describe a time when you had a list of tasks to complete for a client/on an account but you knew that what was on that list wasn’t enough to hit goal(s). What did you do to ensure the client/your boss was happy and that and that goals were achieved?

2. Has there ever been a time when you had to ask for help on an account? What point did you ask for it and how did the help come (i.e. was it on the analysis portion, brainstorming ideas, executing)?

3. Describe a time that an account came off the rails. What caused it to happen? How long did it take to notice there was an issue? What was the first thing you did after realizing there was an issue? How did you resolve it and how long did it take?

4. Explain the system you have set up to ensure that you catch mistakes or external issues quickly. What’s the last change to that system you’ve made?

5. What’s the last Google update that really forced you to learn something new? How did you learn it? What happened when you implemented it?