Content Writer Interview Questions and Tips
Planning to take up a fulfilling job as online content writer or taking up writing as a career? Well as with all creative pursuits’ content writing also demands a fair bit of creativity apart from consistent quality. But when you have both, writing can be a fulfilling calling indeed. This small content/copy writing interview guide lists the interview questions common to all jobs apart from focusing on the questions more likely to be asked in any interview for a content or Web copywriter. While I was planning to write a small content writing interview guide for a long time what finally made me put my fingers to the keyboard was the truly vast experience gained after giving 11 interviews in 14 days! Persistence does pay at the end of the day.
The Getup: As content writing is a relatively informal job, even an informal getup with a semi-formal shirt should do fine. No need for any tie or suit.
Punctuality: This is a must irrespective of the job you apply for. Make sure you reach the venue at least 15-20 minutes before the appointed time and put your documents or reference of past work in order and do remember to have an attractive resume in hand.
1) Tell me something about yourself.
This is the most common interview question which will almost certainly be asked to any candidate. While it seems a pretty straightforward question many find it the toughest as it’s quite open ended and people fumble when required to speak about themselves rather than about their work and/or skills. But fear not friends. The question is asked merely to know more about your personality than actually seeking your personal details. The best way to approach this question is to start with your high school, go up to graduation/post graduation and move towards your work experience. If the interviewer seeks family details only then you should provide it, otherwise it’s not necessary.
2) Your Strong and Weak points.
Although this question is normally asked in a written submission but it’s quite relevant as it can be used to convey a good impression when handled with tack. Obviously you will easily jot down your strong points like organic SEO writing, discipline, creativity, originality, consistency, team work and so on but what about the weak points. Aha..here lies the sticky point. Write the weak points in such a manner that they seem like your strong ones. For instance you may say/write that you are a stickler for deadlines, grammar, creativity and originality and so on. Just remember you should only convey such points which will either give a good or neutral impression and not any negative one.
3) What was/is the profile in your previous/present company?
This question is relevant only for candidates with previous content writing experience. If you have written on variety of topics then it will be definitely better than having written just one type of content as most companies want writers for all types of writing jobs and not just one or two. Still, hardcore technical writers will not be expected to have a wide writing range except for their own domain. For others it’s advantageous to present yourself as generic content writer and not specialized unless the job demands so; for instance, travel writing job. Apart from the writing part also mention other associated responsibilities like, finding keywords, URL suggestion, title tags, page layout decisions, content selection, handling a team, editing etc.
4) Do you know something about Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Although content writers aren’t supposed to know much about SEO but if they do it’s a added bonus because writing and SEO go hand-in-hand and website popularity depends on the right balance between the two and not just one of them. Obviously if you have mentioned SEO as one of your skills then be prepared for some searching SEO questions from the interviewer. Even if you mention SEO as a separate skill as distinct from SEO content writing, mention it after your writing skill and not before that. But handle all SEO related questions with tact. If the interviewer just has some basic SEO knowledge then you can convince him/her quite easily by talking about on-page and off-page optimization but if the interviewer has in depth knowledge then you will need more than just SEO basics. So it’s advisable to state upfront your comfort level with all things SEO.
5) Give some reference of your previous work.
Keep in handy a pen drive containing your best write ups. Yes, you need to be selective; we all know the nonsense we write in the early days of our content writing career and even when we just don’t feel like proof reading some write up, so skip such stuff. It’s always advisable to show a wide variety of write-ups like blogs, articles, home page and on different topics. Also if the write-up is under your name it’s even better for sake of authenticity. But as we know copywriting signifies that the identity of the actual writer is not disclosed so I’ll suggest another way to prove your credentials. Post some articles on varied topics like technology, travel, tourism etc on article submission sites like Hubpages, Ezine, Buksia and so on. I did that and it paid off in a big way. Writers looking for a career in web journalism should have posted related articles on some online magazines or current affairs sites.
6) Why did you choose content writing as a career?
This one is pretty easy. Because I always felt writing is in my bones J I am an Engineering graduate and understandably this was a standard question in all interviews. I gave the same reply in all interviews and it worked just fine.
7) Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
As a successful writer possessing wide experience and ability to consistently write high quality write-ups that are relevant yet simple to grasp. Anything you might want to add here.
8) Write a short article on the given topic (test).
As a candidate for content writing job this small test is to be expected. But don’t get nervous, remembering that you have written enough content previously (even if you have no formal work exp.) to write the small piece. Be cool and calm and take your time to write a good, simple, relevant article without any grammatical errors. Any error will definitely give a negative impression, so avoid it like plague.
9) What do you know about Social Media Optimization (SMO)?
SMO is an upcoming and very exciting avenue for enhancing website popularity and traffic by harnessing the power of various social media like Twitter, Facebook, Digg, YouTube etc. Be prepared to suggest some ways to promote a product, service or website on Facebook and Twitter. So go sign into your Twitter and Facebook accounts and try out a few things to develop enough confidence in the field. Nowadays SMO is an expected skill for most content writers and SMO has blurred the distinction between SEO and content writing as both, Search Engine Optimizers and Content Writers dabble in the field. Check out my post on SMO tricks to get a better grasp of the subject.
10) Short Grammar Test
A Content Writer is expected to be grammatically correct and international clients will expect nothing but the best written material which they won't require to proofread after having paid anything between $ 8-15 per article. So any reputed company is likely to test your grammar skills before going to the second round. Most of the grammar tests focus on punctuation, verb and conjunction usage and few other topics. So brush up, or more correctly, dust off the cobwebs by going through that family heirloom called Wren & Martin.
Remember, of all the questions, those relating to your past and current writing profile and the written test will be crucial in determining your interview success and your compensation package. So impress the interviewer as much with your words as with your writing.
As I mentioned above you should have a collection of articles under your name to impress your prospective employer and what better way than to write some quality Hubs on HubPages.
Join HubPages, ace your interview, and earn some easy money as well!
All the best and don’t forget to keep the spirits high while you try!