What Questions to Ask When Hiring Content Writers

As an employer, you seek to hire the best. Content writers are no different. You need the top writers for your company to ensure your content ranks at the top. How can you separate the good from the bad? Knowing a person is right for the job can be tricky.

That’s why interview questions are important. Without the proper interview questions, you could be hiring someone seeking a paycheck instead of a top content writer seeking a new company to enhance their career.

Asking Questions

Every interview involves questions and answers. It’s the best way to reach your goal of finding the best employee for your company. You, as the employer, ask questions to find out if the applicant has what it takes to work for your company and they, as the applicant, answer. Based on their answers, you hire them or look elsewhere. Answers are the best solution to finding the right person for the job.

Content writing is no different. You still have to know you’ve got the right person with the best knowledge and skills. This makes things a little tricky because standard interview questions don’t work here. When interviewing content writers, it’s important to remember they are applying for a special kind of job. Not everyone can be a content writer. The questions you ask can make or break the hiring process right then and there.

Questions to Ask

There are so many options for questions to ask an applicant. Some are better than others to help judge their skill level and separate the real content writers from those just starting out or hoping to start. These questions, and answers, are what an interview with a real content writer should sound like:

  • How do you start a project with a new client?
    • The answer should involve listening, getting to know the client, understanding the brand, etc.
  • Which blogs do you read?
    • Any true content writer will be focusing on the marketing- or content-focused blogs, such as ProBlogger and CopyBlogger.
  • Tell me about the best book you’ve read recently.
    • The best writers love to read and find more than just blogs to fill their time. Anything business or marketing is acceptable, but also books that prove the individual is well-rounded.
  • Which professional organizations do you belong to?
    • Any good writer will pay the annual dues for any of the top professional organizations to keep up with trends and sharpen skills.
  • Which style guide do you prefer to go by?
    • The answer to this question is fairly straightforward; they should choose Associated Press (AP) Stylebook or Chicago Manual of Style. Anything that shows they understand the question.
  • Can you describe the difference between content and copy?
    • This question should provide the definitions: copy is sales-oriented while content is value-oriented.
  • What is your proofreading process?
    • This question carries more weight. A true writer will have one (or several) writing process to follow and proofread their piece of content.
  • How do you optimize your content for search?
    • Content writers are familiar with the basics (if not more) of SEO. It’s easy to discern the true content writers with this question.
  • What operating systems and programs do you use?
    • This question ensures the writer will be able to work with the tools they have available should you be hiring them to work on site.
  • Can you describe the different between “there,” “their,” and “they’re”?
    • This question can weed out those who aren’t familiar with these words from their English classes. Good writers understand that spellcheck can only take you so far and using the wrong form out of the three will not always flag your spellcheck as long as it’s spelled correctly.

The type of question and its wording can mean the difference between having a writer that’s serious about content writing and someone just looking for a job. Asking these questions versus standard interview questions could mean the difference between a content writer that’s ready to work and an employee who wants a paycheck.

Why These Questions Are Important

Interviewing for any position can be difficult. Asking the right questions gets the best candidates for the job. Content writers are no different. It’s important to know who knows the job and who wants the paycheck.

Top candidates will arrive with a portfolio of work to showcase their experience and expertise in the field. The right candidates will have skills in writing, researching, and editing with the appropriate knowledge of SEO. Written assignments can also aid in weeding out the poor choices. Having a candidate write a short piece can provide more insight into their knowledge and skills.

The ability to find the best content writer for the job is important. It provides the top writers for the top clients and gives the employer peace of mind knowing they chose the best writer for the job. This is why asking the right questions is imperative to having the top content writers.

Conclusion

There are a multitude of questions available for interviewing content writers. Should any of these not fit your company’s needs, a quick search for interview questions will bring up an array of new ideas. The importance of the question isn’t about the type of question, it’s about the knowledgeable answer that follows.

You don’t want to ask a writer what interesting book they’ve read and have them respond by admitting they don’t really read. Generic answers are also red flags for content writing jobs – look for specifics. Employers want someone who knows the job and can do the job the right way. If the answer you are given to a question about books or any topic is too generic, you won’t get a good feel for the quality or extent of your interviewee’s expertise.

Find the right questions for your company, as the employer, and the right answers will follow. When they don’t, you’ve got the wrong candidate and it’s time to move on. As long as the questions you ask are specific and important to the job you’re hiring for, you’ll find the best candidate to hire.