10 Common Content Writer Interview Questions and Tips
Are you looking for a job as an online content writer or web copywriter? As with all creative pursuits, online writing demands a fair bit of creativity in addition to consistent quality. But when you have both, writing can be a fulfilling calling indeed.
In this guide, I'll cover many common interview questions that you will likely be asked when searching for a job in this field. While I'd been planning to write something like this for a long time, what finally made me put my fingers to the keyboard was having 11 interviews in 14 days! Persistence does pay at the end of the day.
What You Should Wear
As content writing is a relatively informal job, even an informal outfit with a semi-formal shirt should do fine. No need for a tie or suit.
Punctuality Is Important
This is a must, regardless of which job it is that you're applying 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.
Common Interview Questions
Ok, let's get down to the nitty-gritty. Again, these are all questions I've personally gotten many times.
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. What are your strong and weak points?
This question is often asked in a written submission, but it’s quite relevant as it can be used to convey a good impression when handled with tact. Obviously you will easily jot down your strong points like organic SEO writing, discipline, creativity, originality, consistency, teamwork 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)?
Content writers don't necessarily need to know about SEO, but if they do it’s a added bonus. This is because writing and SEO go hand-in-hand, and website popularity depends on the right balance between the two.
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. Do you have examples of your previous work?
Keep handy a thumb 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 proofreading 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. For me, it's because I always felt writing is in my bones. 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?
I've answered this one by saying, "As a successful writer with deep experience who has the ability to consistently write high-quality write-ups that are relevant yet simple to grasp." Feel free to add anything you might want 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! Remember that you have written enough content previously (even if you have no formal work experience) 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 witers dabble in the field.
10. Please take this short grammar test.
A content writer is expected to be grammatically correct. International clients will expect nothing but the best-written material which they won't require additional proofreading after they've paid between $8-15 per article. Any reputable company is likely to test your grammar skills before going to the second round. Most 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.
All the best and don’t forget to keep the spirits high while you try!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.