hire a writer

How to Hire a Writer: 8 Interview Questions

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Your brilliant content marketing isn’t going to execute itself. Odds are you’re going to need to hire a writer at least on occasion to help make your vision a reality.

There are plenty of people eager to write for a living, but that doesn’t mean they have the skills and expertise you need for your brand. So how do you build your bench with knowledgeable and reliable writers?

When you’re interviewing a prospective writer, your goal is to learn about the candidate’s skills, experience and work style. We’ve compiled a list of eight interview questions that will help you get started.

‘What Can You Tell Me About Your Writing Process?’

Each contributor has a writing process that takes them from concept to final product. By articulating that process to you, it demonstrates the level of thought, research, and technical considerations that go into each article. When a writer explains her process, look for references to credible sources, willingness to interview people to strengthen a story, and use of keyword research. These elements reflect a writer who knows how to create content that is useful, SEO-friendly, and unique, which are all necessary qualities for your team of contributors to have.

‘What Are Your Areas of Expertise?’

While you have likely reviewed the contributor’s portfolio in advance of the interview, it’s important to ask about their areas of expertise. Inquire about how long has she written about specific industries and topics, and what she is most passionate about. When writers are engaged and stimulated by their work, the end product is always stronger. You want a team of writers who care about your industry and business so that enthusiasm shines through in their content.

‘How Do You Incorporate Feedback into Your Work?’

Feedback, both positive and negative, is part of the writing process. Listen to how the contributor speaks about receiving both types of feedback and how willing he was to include the suggestions and revisions into his work. You may even ask for a specific example where he received a significant amount of feedback and how he dealt with those revisions. Having a team of writers who are flexible and open to edits will make content creation easier and more efficient in the long run.

‘What Are 3 Content Ideas You Have for Our Business?’

Writers need to be familiar with your business and its goals in order to produce compelling content. How the contributor answers this question will show how prepared he was for the interview and whether he did more research than just perusing your website and blog. Content ideation is core to the writer’s profession, so having a handful of pertinent ideas ready goes with the interview territory. It signals the writer’s investment in the interview, his level of interest in working with your business, and his industry-specific content creativity.

‘How Do You Capture a Brand’s Voice?’

Identifying writers who can match your brand’s tone of voice and style is critical for content success. Even though you’re using multiple writers, they should all have a similar feel so that your tone and style are reflected in every piece of content. Your business has spent time and resources developing a particular voice and your contributors must be able to write in that fashion. By asking how the writer goes about homing in on a brand’s voice, it will show the contributor’s ability to match your business’ tone.

‘What Operating Systems and Programs Do You Use?’

On-boarding a team of writers can take time, but when your contributors are familiar with your preferred operating systems and programs (such as Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or WordPress), it will expedite the training process and reduce the learning curve. This means your writers can get to work more quickly, and you’ll have to do less hand-holding at the outset.

‘What Is Your Proofreading Process?’

Understanding the writer’s proofreading process will give you insight into how thoughtful and deliberate she is with her craft. Proofreading means more than just checking for spelling errors, and when a writer has an established, multi-step process, it means your internal marketing team should have to make fewer revisions in the end. Having a proofreading process is a sign of professionalism and integrity that should not be overlooked.

‘How Do You Integrate SEO Best Practices Into Your Writing?’

SEO is no longer a “nice to have” part of a content strategy; it’s a requirement. Hiring writers who are familiar with SEO best practices and who know how to use keywords effectively in their articles means your content will rank better and save your team time during the editing process. Having a contributor who submits keyword-optimized articles from the get-go will yield long-term benefits for your content’s ROI.

Julie Chomiak is a freelance writer experienced in digital marketing, content marketing, small business, event planning, B2C, non-profits, branding, productivity, social media, and SEO. She currently lives in D.C., but her roots are in Philadelphia.

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