How to Hire a Content Marketing Writer: 8 Interview Questions

How to Hire a Content Marketing Writer: 8 Interview QuestionsLooking for tips on hiring content writers? Read our posts on managing content writers, why every content team needs a managing editor and why blogging matters for B2B.

Even the best content marketing strategy won’t bring your business sales success if you don’t hire the right content marketing writer to help your team implement it.

You may think you can just call on your neighbor, your niece or your intern to write for you, but will their work best represent your brand? Will it resonate with your customers and help you to earn their trust? Will it help make it easier for your company to sell its product or service? Those are the aims of content marketing, but they aren’t goals just anyone can accomplish.

Sure writing is something everyone has to do, but it’s not something everyone can do well. That’s why when you’re trying to achieve serious marketing goals with your writing, you’ll need to hire a professional writer.

Last year, Mary Ellen provided six tips to help companies hire a content marketing writer. Today, I will give you advice on interviewing a candidate for a full-time, contract or freelance content marketing writer position.

Interview Questions for a Content Marketing Writer

When you’re interviewing a prospective content marketing writer, your goal is to learn more about the candidate’s skills, experience and working style in order to find someone who can write well, understand your industry, write in the tone your company is going for and work in a style that works with your marketing team.

You should avoid asking questions that require only simple “yes” or “no” answers, be sure to tailor your questions to your industry and your company’s specific needs, and try these eight general interview questions:

  • Could you tell me about the process you went through to create this piece? As you look through a prospective writer’s “clips” or writing samples, select one to ask about in detail during the interview. The goal is to get an idea of how they go about getting to the final product.
  • Could you tell me which of your writing samples is most heavily edited and which is most lightly edited? This will help you get a better idea of the quality of the writer’s raw work. Every writer needs some editing, but you want to find a content marketing writer whose work will need as little editing as possible. The less time and money you spend on editing, the better.
  • What different styles, tones and voices do you have experience writing in? A key part of building a strong, cohesive brand is establishing a style, tone and voice for all of the content you create. Some good writers can write well in a variety of styles, while others are more limited. It doesn’t matter which you hire, but you want someone who will be able to match the style, tone and voice you’ve decided on for your brand.
  • How do you apply SEO best practices to your writing? Savvy use of SEO best practices is vital if you want your company’s content to be found online, so you want to hire a content marketing writer who understands and knows how to do SEO and do it well.
  • How would you create content to appeal to our company’s target audience? The prospective writer’s answer to this question will help you figure out how she thinks and whether her thinking will work well with your industry, your company and the type of content you want to create.
  • Do you work best when you come up with your own ideas, when you’re given specific assignments or in a mix of those situations? The answer here should jive with the sort of working relationship your marketing team wants to have with its content marketing writer. If you want to be the ones coming up with ideas, then you need a writer who is happy to take assignments as they come. If you don’t have the time or inclination to come up with ideas, then you need a writer who is happy to take on that task. When there is a mismatch here, it will cause frustration on both ends of the working relationship.
  • Can you give me an example of feedback you’ve received on a writing assignment and tell me about how you incorporated that feedback in future work? Creating content for marketing purposes requires a collaborative effort. You want a content marketing writer who is open to receiving feedback — both positive and negative — on their work, and who is willing and able to incorporate that feedback into their future writing efforts. A writer who gets defensive or isn’t open to suggestions will just cause you headaches.
  • Can you give me an example of a time you disagreed with a boss or a client about a writing assignment and how you handled the situation? When you’re hiring a skilled content marketing writer, you want to get the most out of the money you’re paying for his expertise. While you want someone who can take and make good use of your feedback, you don’t want someone who will stay silent when you’re guiding him in the wrong direction. You should look for a writer who is able to disagree respectfully and effectively communicate his expertise to you.

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Reputation Capital Media Services is a Baton Rouge marketing agency that helps B2B companies and their marketing agencies produce high-quality digital content, including blog posts, e-mail newsletters, white papers and multimedia. Our editors and writers are experts in their fields, which include HR technology, employee benefits, and financial services and accounting. Contact us for a free 30-minute consultation to find out how great content can help you attract and retain your customers.

2 thoughts on “How to Hire a Content Marketing Writer: 8 Interview Questions

  1. RETRACTION: Not to wonder I’m not being asked to be a writer with the mistakes I made! LOL! I’m sending my comments again:

    Thanks Brooke for your wise advice in “How to Hire a Content Marketing Writer: 8 Interview Questions.” We are in the throes of interviewing several candidates for a content marketing writer this week. I’m so GLAD I found you! I passed along your article to the hiring manager who is grateful as well.

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