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Hire Your Dream Copywriter: Interview Questions to Ask

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Hiring your dream copywriter is possible, but it takes work. It takes understanding who you need on your team, the skill set you need them to bring and where you’re hoping this new hire will take your business.

Over the past few months, we’ve held several conversations with team leaders and business owners about what it takes to find the right next team member. Many of these chats included discussions about interview questions to ask writer candidates.

In all honesty, most interview questions you ask a copywriter candidate should be the same that you ask candidates for other positions. So let’s start there.

12 Interview Questions to Ask Before Hiring Your Next Copywriter

Here are several questions we’ve asked candidates to answer during interviews for positions with our team here at Custom Content Solutions:

  1. How did you hear about this job posting?
  2. Why do you want it?
  3. {If job change} Why are you seeking a change (or why did you leave your last job)?
  4. What would you like your first 30 days in this position to look like?
  5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  6. What’s your biggest superpower? Put another way, what is it that makes you, YOU?
  7. What’s your kryptonite? Where do you believe you fall short?
  8. What makes you angry?
  9. How have you handled a disagreement or conflict with a supervisor in the past?
  10. What do you want to know about me/this position/this company?
  11. What’s the one word that describes you perfectly?
  12. And what’s the one question you were hoping I wouldn’t ask during this interview?

How a candidate answers these questions will help you understand much about them, including:

  • Whether the candidate did their research and came prepared for the interview 
  • How well the candidate understands what they need to succeed in a position
  • If the candidate can articulate what’s special about them and how their special sauce will benefit the team/company
  • Whether the candidate is willing to admit and work on weaknesses
  • How well the candidate handles interpersonal challenges

Copywriter-Specific Interview Questions

Writers come with their own unique challenges. Understanding where those challenges often arise and how to best address them is one of the most critical things a manager can do.

Here are some questions that can help clue you in to what it will take to train, manage and develop each copywriter candidate:

  • What makes for great content?
  • How do you prefer to learn about new topics and businesses?
  • What research and writing tools and tactics do you use when crafting copy?
  • How do you work under deadlines?
  • Whose feedback is most important when it comes to a piece of content?
  • How would you respond if a client requests a rewrite of something you delivered?

Interview Tips: What to Listen & Look for During the Interview

The interview isn’t just about getting answers to these questions. It’s also about assessing how the candidate responded to the questions. For instance,

  • Did the interview fall into more of a conversation cadence, or did it stick with a more constant ask-and-answer format? (This goes to how comfortable the candidate is in conversations with new people and, of course, how well you connect with the candidate.)
  • How long did it take for responses to come from the candidate? (This matters based on the role’s needs. If the candidate will be on the phone with customers, then you want someone who can think more quickly on their feet.)
  • How thorough were the answers/information they provided? (This gets to roles that require a heavy communications workload. Yes/no answers with zero follow-ups can be a sign that this isn’t the candidate for you.)
  • Did they answer the questions you asked or did they provide the answers they wanted to tell you? (Are they actively listening to and engaging with you or are they just waiting for their turn to speak?)

It’s also important to watch for things that clue in whether this person matches your agency’s mission and values. Some things we’re always looking for include:

  • Openness in conversation: Transparency and authenticity are important to us. Assessing this does require us to show up in a certain way during the interview; if we’re more upfront early on, it puts the interviewees more at ease.
  • Willingness to learn: This is especially important for entry-level positions. So listen for excitement for learning and other insights that point to an open mind and a flexible attitude. A candidate that asks good questions that help them get to know you better is a great sign.
  • Humor: Having fun is huge here. If we don’t love what we do and find enjoyment in our work and each other, then we’re doing something wrong. So we watch and see whether the candidate smiled, laughed, or showed other signs of happiness. Yes, interviews are nerve-wracking, but if you can set the scene, this will come out naturally.

Related: Hire Your Dream Writer: 8 (Non-Writing) Skills for Content Success

Debating Between Top-Tier Candidates? Try This.

If you’re lucky, you’ll find yourself facing the difficult job of choosing one great candidate out of two or three top-tier individuals. Sometimes, this difficult job can feel impossible. If you find yourself in such a situation, consider this exercise.

Write a Persuasive Sales Pitch for Each Final Candidate

Sit at your desk for an uninterrupted hour. Review your notes for each final candidate. Then, write a short sales pitch for each candidate, highlighting their top traits and explaining why each would be worthwhile hiring. Be careful to keep out any personal descriptions/identifiers.

Next, put the persuasive pitches in front of a handful of people at your company who don’t know anything about the candidates. Ask them to read the pitches and rank them in numerical order. For instance, if you have three final candidates, your trusted colleagues will rank the pitches from 1 to 3.

This exercise will require you to be an equal advocate for each final candidate. It will require you to home in on their top selling points and why they would be right next employee. Yes, this is challenging, but you might just find that it helps clarify for you and your colleagues who the “best candidate” is for the current open position.

Not Quite Ready to Hire a Copywriter In-House? Call Us.

Hiring a copywriter for your team can take time—time you don’t have to waste as you’re trying to serve your clients. Our team of Word Nerds here at Custom Content Solutions can help, whether you need overflow support or an interim team to help you while you’re onboarding a new copywriter. Reach out to our team today.

Cari O'Brien

Founder & Chief Word Nerd
Cari has been providing content marketing services to businesses for over 15 years. She writes and speaks frequently about brand messaging, SEO copywriting and audience-focused copy. She’s the creator of the Connection Copywriting Method and the online writing course, Write that Site®.

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