Here is a list of typical content writer interview questions and answers for your next big interview.
1. What do you do to research the target audience?
Although this question is more pertinent for content marketing/Strategy profile, it is also a must for content writers to have basic knowledge about target audience analysis. You can use the following answer as a framework, around which you can add more elements.
As a content writer, it is important for me to identify the target consumer and understand his/her personality, preferences, and needs. For this purpose, I take assistance from analysts and review the data provided by them. I also often take insights from the Sales/customer-service teams and once in a while interact directly with the customers.
2. What do you think are the essential components of a good web content?
There may be many aspects to a good content piece, but here we will discuss some of the indispensable elements that must be imbibed in every web content work and is essential for all content writers to know:
- Usefulness: Web content should be written in a way which caters to 'what the reader wants'. This has a profound effect on reader engagement and how a blog or article gets ranked on the search engine.
- Engagement: Many elements, for example, content structure, proper headlines, images & videos, info-graphics, etc. can make for an engaging read.
- Call to action: Most online content is written with a marketing objective. Therefore, it is important for a content writer to know how to drive call to action
- Credibility: The information being used in a blog or an online article must be from a legitimate source. Not maintaining credibility can have a terrible effect on an organization’s reputation.
- Originality: Plagiarism can harm a company’s reputation and also negatively affect the performance of the content on a search engine.
3. How will you go about creating a content strategy for a client/brand?
Different agencies/organizations have different ways of approaching their content strategy. For the purpose of a content writing interview, you can narrate the following process which is simple and smart:
- Step 1 – Define the marketing objectives
- Step 2 – Identify audience (their personality, behaviour, demographics etc.)
- Step 3 – Define how the client/brand should be perceived by the audience (Positioning)
- Step 4 – Brainstorm ideas (Creating the topic/subject pool, creating a keyword list, etc.)
- Step 5 – Map a rollout plan
4. How do you decide what topic/subject to write on?
Coming up with new topics is always challenging for content writers. Some methods by which I discover new topics are:
- Identifying the target audience & their needs
- Researching keywords and associate keywords
- Analysing conversations on social media
- Analysing conversations of competitors
- Keeping track of blogs and article from subject matter experts, commentators, critics, etc.
5. How do you decide the tone of the content?
This is an important question that does not get due attention but can go a long way in creating a good impression on the interviewer. Here are a few factors that must be considered for deciding the tone of the content:
Brand personality: The characteristics of a brand are the foremost guidelines around which the content strategy is developed. The tone of the content must align itself to the content strategy as well as the larger brand strategy.
Audience profile: Who the audience is and how the brand wants to be seen by the target audience are important questions that help a content writer decide the style and tone of writing.
Channel: The style of writing on a social media forum like Twitter is very different from when you are writing a blog or an article. However irrespective of the channel, content must be consistent with brand attributes.
6. How do you integrate SEO into your content?
When an interviewer asks this question, he/she does not expect you to be an expert in the subject. For answering this question you need to have basic knowledge about how the Google algorithm and On-Page SEO functions. Here are some basics of on-page SEO techniques that content writers are expected to know:
- Keyword density: Keywords help search engines find out what your content is all about. The keyword density should be maintained between 2 to 5 percent.
- Meta Tags: Meta tags also help in describing a page’s content but they are not a part of the text. You can see them only in the page’s code.
- Body Tags: H1, H2, H3, H4 tags are used to describe the importance of a heading within an online content.
- Alt Tags: Alt-tags are used to describe the attributes of an image.
- URL Structure: Using small URLs, along with keyword & location makes the URL more search engine friendly.
- Internal/External linking: The quality of internal & external links also has a profound effect on the performance of web content. Quality linking leads to better content engagement.
7. How do you ensure the credibility of the information?
This question is asked to ensure that you do your research properly before writing about a subject and that the information that you quote in your blog, article, etc. come from credible sources.
I personally prefer to gather information about a subject from popular journals, and published researches and reports from credible news organizations, magazines, etc.
8. What content management systems are you familiar with?
Ad agencies and content management firms often look for people who are technically sound and are capable of posting content directly onto a site. Even though as a content writer your writing skills and creativity are paramount, your knowledge about CMS systems like Wordpress and Magento is also very important.
I am very well acquainted with CMS systems like Wordpress and Joomla. I have worked on these systems in the past and find these very useful for various content management activities.
9. How do you plan and schedule your work?
The purpose of planning and scheduling content work is to produce an optimal quantity of work without compromising on the quality of the content. Here are a few simple steps which can help you schedule your content, and you can also narrate the same if this question is asked in an interview.
- Step 1 – Understand content strategy and marketing goals
- Step 2 – Create a subject/topic pool
- Step 3 – Determine the frequency of publications
- Step 4 – Prepare a calendar mentioning which topic is to be published on what date, along with related activities to be performed (promoting strategy, frequency, etc.)
- Step 5 – Draw a workflow (researching the topic, creating a draft, writing, proofreading, and publishing)
I like to follow a step by step approach (refer to the above steps) to do the planning and scheduling of content. I feel content calendars are very useful when it comes to staying organised and consistent, and streamlining the projects. I prefer to create a content calendar using Google Sheets, Trello, or explore the ready-to-use online content calendars.
10. How do you analyse the performance of content?
How one defines a successful content may vary depending on the target audience and the marketing objectives. However, some common ways of judging the performance of online content are:
- Search Engine result page
- Traffic & repeat traffic
- Engagement – Likes, shares, comments, etc
- Call to action – Inquiries, leads, sales, etc.
12. Once content is published, how do you promote it?
Even though you are a content writer, your employer expects you to contribute to the outreach efforts of the organization in some way. You can contribute to this effort by:
- Sharing the blog/article through social media
- Asking your co-workers to share the blogs/articles
- Reaching out to influencers & industry colleagues for their opinion on the blog
13. What is the difference between blog and article?
Articles are a more traditional & formal form of writing. They are meant to inform the reader about a subject using facts, events, analysis, and research. A blog may or may not include elements of an article but is written in an informal and personal fashion. It generally includes the opinion of the writer.
14. And what is the difference between content and copy?
Both content and the copy can be used for achieving marketing objectives, but while content (blogs, articles, etc.) is used to give a narration about a subject, a copy is used to inform, position, publicise, and sell a product or service.
15. Tell us something that is unique about your writing style?
The answer to this question requires quite a bit of soul-searching and depends on what you think about yourself as a content writer. Here are a few references that can help you.
Possible Answer 1:
As a content writer, I always attempt to write in a way which motivates the reader for a call to action. For this purpose, I research deeply about the audience persona and also use new and innovative ways of structuring the content.
Possible Answer 2:
I use smart & simple language in my writing which informs the reader about the subject and also keeps him/her engaged in the content.
16. What is your proofreading process?
I prefer to use some simple techniques for proofreading the content.
17. How do you keep yourself motivated in the midst of cumbersome and repetitive work?
This question is quite tricky and can test the intellect of the candidate. Here is an answer that can help you make a good impression.
As a writer, I am quite innovative and often experiment with styles and formats. Therefore, despite the work being repetitive and cumbersome, innovation helps me remain motivated.
18. What book are you reading currently?
If you are a content writer, it is assumed that you are also an avid reader. In answering this question you can share your choice in blogs & also demonstrate your taste in literature.
Content writing HR interview questions and answers
Let us look at some of the common HR interview questions for content writer's profile.
19. Why do you want to be a content writer? Or why did you choose content writing as a profession?
Possible Answer 1: (For fresher)
I believe my inclination towards content writing is quite organic and is rooted in my insatiable appetite for reading. My reading habit has acquainted me to many different writing styles and has also helped me understand some of the nuances of web content writing.
With some help & guidance, I think, I will be able to hone my skills and make a career in content writing.
Possible Answer 2: (For experienced)
Being a person who is creatively oriented, writing gives me an opportunity to use my imagination and express myself creatively. And over the years, I have also developed skill sets that are essential for web content writing. My creativity enables me to develop content that is relevant & engaging, while my experience helps me maintain the integrity of the brand or product about which I write.
20. What do you enjoy most about content writing?
Possible Answer 1:
I have always been intrigued by the craft of writing content, and find it quite amazing how a bland and uninteresting subject can be brought to life by putting the content in a proper structure and using the correct words.
Possible Answer 2:
The thing that I enjoy about content writing the most is that it gives me an opportunity to learn and write about different topics and subjects. Apart from that, there is an endless scope for innovations when it comes to writing styles, formats, tones, etc.
21. What do you know about our company/agency?
To make a good impression you can share your thoughts about the company’s brand personality, and how your writing can add value to the brand. If you are giving an interview in an ad agency or a content marketing firm, then you must know who their clients are. You can add the following statements to give more substance to your answers.
Possible Answer 1: (For company/brand)
I appreciate the brand’s personality and attributes (talk about brand's missions and client base). I think that my writing style aligns very well with the motives of the brand, and this will help me express the brand’s voice in a useful and engaging manner.
Possible Answer 2: (For Ad agency / content marketing firm)
The array of clients that the agency is working with is vibrant and eclectic, and it would be a great learning experience for me to write for such a diverse set of clients.
22. What are your ambitions as a content writer?
Possible Answer 1: (For experienced candidates)
Having been working in this field for a while, I have honed my writing skills and have managed to deliver on client's expectations. But at this stage, I want to learn more about analytics and content strategy, so that in due time I am well prepared for a senior content management or strategy role.
Possible Answer 2: (For freshers)
In five years, I see myself as a writer who is well versed in different styles of writing and has the ability to produce content that is engaging, useful and of the highest quality.
23. Why did you leave your last job?
Possible Answer 1: (If you were let go)
The creative outlook of my previous employer was completely different from my own creative thinking and writing style, which made it difficult for us to work together. Here, however, I think my writing style will be more aligned with the company’s creative philosophy.
Possible Answer 2: (If you left voluntarily)
As a content writer, I needed to explore the horizon and find an opportunity where I could write in many different tones and styles. Although I learned a lot in my previous job, the scope for creativity and innovation was not sufficient.
24. What would you say are your strengths as a content writer?
For this question, you will need to look within yourself and try to gauge your strengths. You can, however, use the following examples as a reference:
Possible Answer 1:
My strength as a content writer is adaptability. Having the skills to use many styles and tones gives me the ability to shift between multiple formats (blogs, articles, white papers, etc.) with ease.
Possible Answer 2:
Before I start writing a blog or an article, I conduct a thorough research about its subject. The proper research adds substance to a blog/article and also gives it a sense of authenticity. I also often experiment with new and innovative writing styles, which helps me drive engagement.
25. What type of writing are you most comfortable with?
When a question like this is asked, it is best to avoid getting caught on the wrong foot. If your content writing experience is limited, there is no harm in accepting that. If, for example, you only have blogging experience and the interviewer expects you to know article and white paper writing, you can say that you are a quick learner and will be able to gather the know-how with some guidance. It is most likely that they will ask you to write a sample article to test your skill level.
I have a lot of experience in blog writing. In fact, being an avid reader, I am acquainted with other forms of writing as well. With some guidance and practice, I am sure I’ll be able to meet your writing requirements.
26. How do you manage feedback and criticism?
The purpose of this question is to test your attitude toward feedback and criticism. In answering this question, you need to indicate that although you are confident about your writing, you are not stubborn. Show that you are flexible and willing to make changes and modifications, wherever necessary.
To err is human, and I too have faltered at times in interpreting a client /company’s briefings and/or expectations. However, maintaining a cordial relationship with the clients as well as with my seniors helps me discuss and resolve the gaps without any fear or distress.
27. Do you have a good work ethic?
With this question, the interviewer is judging if you are disciplined and structured in your work. To answer this question, you must communicate your ability to maintain your work schedule without compromising on the quality of the content being produced.
Possible Answer: 1 (For fresher)
I am quite disciplined as a person, and I believe in doing my work in a planned and organized manner. A well thought out plan and discipline in execution is the foundation of high-quality content writing.
Possible Answer: 2 (For Experienced candidates)
In my X years of content writing experience, I have rarely missed a deadline. Barring extraordinary circumstances, I am usually able to stick to my writing schedule without compromising on quality.
28. Do you perform better as a part of a team or do you prefer to work separately?
This question tests your adaptability as a co-worker. To answer this question, you should give the impression that you are comfortable working with a team but can also manage the work with minimal support.
Possible Answer: 1 (For Fresher)
As a fresher, working with a team would help me learn and orient myself to the company’s/brand’s / Agency’s objectives. However, being a quick learner, I think I will soon be able to handle work independently.
Possible Answer: 2 (For experienced candidates)
I am quite comfortable in both circumstances. In my previous job, I have worked on individual assignments as well as team projects.
29. Do you have any questions for us?
- What are the most important KRAs for a content writer in the company?
- Will I be working independently or as a part of a team?
- What content management system/software does the company use?
- What kind of analytics and SEO support does the firm provide?
- Will there be any training or an orientation exercise before the commencement of work?
- Can you tell me more about the work schedules?
Content writing interview tips
Follow these tips for your content writing interview.
Know yourself: In interviews for creative jobs such as this, it is easy to get carried away and promise more than what you can deliver. It is very important that you are self-aware of your skill-sets and your current level of competence.
Keep your portfolio handy: Always carry samples of your writing work to interviews. If you think your work is good, then talk the interviewer into seeing your portfolio, even if he/she doesn’t ask for it.
Be technically aware: Content writers these days are expected to have basic know-how about content management technology. You should learn the basics of Google algorithm, search engine optimization, and content management systems like Wordpress, Magento, etc.
Do your homework: Before you go for the interview, learn more about the company/agency, the kind of work they are doing (especially on the content front), and gather information about their competitors.
Be innovative: Creative agencies are always on the lookout for fresh ideas. If you are innovative in your approach to writing, you always have a better chance of cracking the job.
Best of luck!
Further suggested reading:
How to build a career in content marketing?