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30 Questions and Answers by Christina Erne

Updated December 20th, 2018 | Christina Erne is a meteorologist and a journalist at News 10 ABC in Albany, NY.
Question 1 of 30
Which content management systems are you most familiar with?
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How to Answer
If you are aware of the content management system used by the interviewing company, be sure to research the CMS before your interview. Chances are, if you are already familiar with one or two systems, you will quite quickly pick up the one used by them. Briefly discuss which systems you are familiar with, rating your knowledge from beginner to intermediate, advanced, or expert. If you are not sure which CMS they use in this new role, you can ask! This question will show the interviewer that you have the initiative to learn.
30 Writer Interview Questions
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  1. Which content management systems are you most familiar with?
  2. Are you familiar with sales copy and writing pitches? If so, what are the most important factors in writing an effective pitch?
  3. 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?
  4. What is your proofreading strategy?
  5. The cost of conversions continues to rise for companies, no matter the industry. How does your work improve conversions and ROI for each client?
  6. In a landscape where most content is ignored, how do you ensure your content gets well-deserved attention?
  7. What is your framework for delivering work that doesn't feel forced, and speaks effortlessly to your target audience?
  8. How will you get to know our market, ensuring your copy targets the right audience with the greatest impact?
  9. How would you alter your writing style to suit our different reader demographics?
  10. In your opinion, what is the top cardinal sin in content marketing?
  11. When do you find it most appropriate to use each of the two main style guides?
  12. When have you failed to properly proofread a document that resulted in a loss or embarrassment with your company? What have you learned since making that mistake?
  13. What excites you the most about a being a professional writer?
  14. Which writer has had the greatest influence on you, and why?
  15. What three words would you use to describe yourself?
  16. Why do you want a career as a writer?
  17. Which style guides are you most familiar with?
  18. What do you do when your schedule or project plan is upset by unforeseen circumstances?
  19. How do you decipher a credible source from a non-credible source?
  20. What are the most important things to know about a project before you start writing?
  21. What makes great content, and how do you know if it is performing well?
  22. Are you willing work holidays and weekends, to meet important publication deadlines?
  23. Have you won any writers awards?
  24. What do you know about our organization?
  25. What will you accomplish in the first 90 days of working here?
  26. What has been your greatest accomplishment as a writer?
  27. Describe a difficult project and how you overcame it.
  28. How do you handle the stress and pressure of tight deadlines?
  29. As a writer, what is your greatest weakness?
  30. As a writer, what is your greatest strength?
15 Writer Answer Examples
1.
Which content management systems are you most familiar with?
If you are aware of the content management system used by the interviewing company, be sure to research the CMS before your interview. Chances are, if you are already familiar with one or two systems, you will quite quickly pick up the one used by them. Briefly discuss which systems you are familiar with, rating your knowledge from beginner to intermediate, advanced, or expert. If you are not sure which CMS they use in this new role, you can ask! This question will show the interviewer that you have the initiative to learn.

Christina's Answer #1
"For the past five years I have worked exclusively with Bynder. This system is a cloud-based digital asset management software that allows me and my team to search files quickly. The system also allows for real-time edits and approvals which is a game changer. I am tech savvy and an advanced user in many systems, making me confident in my ability to quickly learn the systems here. Could you share with me which CMS you lean on? I would love to get a head start by watching online tutorials."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I see in your job posting that you use Wrike for managing content and workflow. This was exciting to see since I am already an expert user in this system. My previous two employers used the upgraded version of Wrike, so I am familiar with the basic and premium features. I appreciate that it allows for live editing as well as shared tasks and real-time updates. Are there any other systems or software that I could familiarize myself with in the meantime?"
2.
Are you familiar with sales copy and writing pitches? If so, what are the most important factors in writing an effective pitch?
A great copywriter will understand the basics of a pitch, and how to incorporate pitch writing effectively in every piece of copy. If you have taken any coursework on writing pitches, or pitch decking, talk to the interviewer about this education. Perhaps you have self-taught, or watched a ton of IGTV videos on the topic, from Neil Patel, Gary Vee, or Oren Klaff. Discuss what you know, assuring the interviewer that you can write compelling sales copy.

Christina's Answer #1
"Just last year I paid for the Oren Klaff pitch mastery program called Pitch Anything. The program was worth every penny because what I learned dramatically increased my ability to write compelling sales copy and pitches. The basics of that course taught me how to set the frame, tell the story, reveal the intrigue, offer the prize, nail the hook point, and get the deal."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have created some Facebook copy, retargeting ads, and a variety of segmented email campaigns, all with excellent sales copy. The bulk of my training is from personal research and independent learning. I am great with writing compelling call to actions as well as headlines that drive conversions. Although my education is not formal, my work has seen open rates as high as 36% and record-breaking click-through rates for my current employer. I feel my method is effective because I know how to search for the pain point, reveal just part of the solution, and ask for the sale."
3.
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?
Be prepared to discuss a time when you did not agree with your manager because you did not like what they were asking you to write. This situation is not uncommon as a writer, when you are not in control of your topics or when you may have a different writing style than your boss, or client. Discuss how you addressed your point of view and how you came to an agreement without leaving any tension.

Christina's Answer #1
"There have been times where my client had a certain bias they wanted me to include in my writing. However, part of me always wants to keep a story fair and balanced. At one point, I went into their office and discussed how we could move forward without including a bias. My client agreed we should present information fairly to the public, and we resolved the potential conflict."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"It is often tricky dealing with a manager who constantly disagrees with the way one works or gets the job done. However, a good writer can communicate well with their boss to figure out a way to compromise. In the recent past, my supervisor disagreed on the direction I should take the narrative, but I sat down with him and showed him my ultimate plan. We compromised on a few things, and in the end, we were both happy."
4.
What is your proofreading strategy?
The interviewer would like to know that you have methods in place, ensuring that the work you submit is your best work, right out of the gate. There are many tools you can use for proofing including an independent editor, or a proofing program such as Grammarly or Hemingway. It would be a significant red flag to the hiring authority if you relied solely on your spelling and grammatical knowledge.

Christina's Answer #1
"Everything that I submit to my boss and clients first runs through the Grammarly application. I appreciate its use for more than spelling and grammar as well. It picks up any context issues and also checks for potential plagiarism concerns. I don't know what I would do without it!"
Rachelle's Answer #2
"In my current role, I have a full-time editor who works on my submissions, making them just a bit better every time! Sometimes he catches a spelling error, a missing comma, or thinks of a way to make it more concise. Coming out with perfect copy takes a team, in my opinion."
5.
The cost of conversions continues to rise for companies, no matter the industry. How does your work improve conversions and ROI for each client?
The interviewer would like to see that you have a full understanding of conversions and what it means to keep your employers return on investment in mind when creating content. Primarily, this question will apply to content published online since there are straightforward ways to measure conversions and audience engagement. Share how your work engages an audience, prompting them to act.

Christina's Answer #1
"I recently read that the average company spends $200-$350 per day on social media advertising. That is a budget that adds up quickly, especially if there is little to no return. I make sure that my work generates conversions by first getting ideas from the audience or my employers' customers. When I know for a fact that I am writing about a topic that is interesting to them, I know it will convert. Second, I make sure to educate the reader. When your audience learns something from you, they are much more likely to subscribe, return to your site, or share your content."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I keep conversions top of mind in each piece of content that I create. To convert these days, and to see an ROI on big advertising dollars, one must put out well-researched content that entertains and educates at the same time. Also, allowing for a two-way conversation is very important. This idea means opening up the comments section and avoiding the 'post and ghost' where you post an article or piece of content and are not around to address questions or comments. Reader engagement is critical in our digital age where new material is released every second."
6.
In a landscape where most content is ignored, how do you ensure your content gets well-deserved attention?
Our world is incredibly content rich these days, and so, the struggle is to ensure that your content is seen and heard in this noisy landscape. As a writer, you know that it's essential to release exciting and well-researched work, but the interviewer wants to see that you also understand how critical it is to deliver pieces that are share-worthy, with the potential of going viral. Discuss how you ensure that your content gets the attention it deserves.

Christina's Answer #1
"I recently completed training with Billy Gene Marketing, who taught me to ask three questions when putting out a piece of content. Is it entertaining? Does it educate? Does it ask the audience to take a specific action? When it comes to entertaining, I ensure that my content stops people in their tracks. Second, they will always come back for more if they learned something from your content. They will also be more likely to share it and tell their friends about it. Lastly, when you ask your audience to act, which can be a simple call to action, you are gaining a small commitment from them. These three rules of content marketing have never steered me wrong."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"To ensure my content gains attention, I first make sure that I have a full understanding of the audience, and what their biggest problem may be. I write a headline that creates curiosity surrounding that problem. Then, I let the reader know that a solution is available...if they keep reading. I have training in writing pitches and sales copy, so there is a multitude of other writing techniques that I incorporate to ensure my content is impossible to ignore."
7.
What is your framework for delivering work that doesn't feel forced, and speaks effortlessly to your target audience?
The interviewer would like to know your process when it comes to starting and working through a project. As a writer, it's crucial that you have a structured framework, or an underlying system, to ensure that your work always flows naturally. Discuss how you approach a project, step by step.

Christina's Answer #1
"It is important to me that I begin each project by following a structure that I created for myself a few years ago. First, I begin with fleshing out to whom I am writing. Then, I write a partial conclusion, deciding what pain point or problem it is for the reader. Next, I create bullet points that I will return to and build up later. The introduction is the last thing that I write. Once I have the skeleton of the written piece, I can wordsmith the article, ensuring it speaks in the correct tone and flows appropriately."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"My system for approaching a piece of writing will depend on how much I know on the topic, how long the piece is, and where it will be published. For an e-book for instance, where it's easy to get off the rails and remain focused, I will first gather all of my research and then decide on an angle. Working backward, I think about the end. What do the readers want to get out of this book? Once that question is answered, I create a full outline using a mindmap. Then, I flesh out the chapters."
8.
How will you get to know our market, ensuring your copy targets the right audience with the greatest impact?
One of the most critical factors of content success is ensuring you create it for the correct audience. The interviewer would like to know that you have a keen interest in getting to know their target audience, and their industry, ensuring that your copy makes a significant impact on their sales, conversions, and other important KPIs. Some steps you could take include getting to know their marketing list, their biggest customers, how they segment their email marketing, and whom exactly makes up the bulk of their followers on social media.

Christina's Answer #1
"I have been following your company on all social media platforms, analyzing from my end whom your primary audience is, who currently engages with your content on a consistent basis, and what their lifestyles appear to be. If I am the successful candidate, I will dig into your analytics right away to find the patterns that I need to lock down a writing style, and voice, that will best resonate."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"One of my strengths as a writer is my understanding of Google analytics as well as data that comes from a CRM and other sources. I plan to comb through everything that I can, to gain a solid understanding of the customer persona I am writing to, and trying to attract. My previous employer saw a 12% increase in conversions in my first 90 days of employment after I deployed that strategy."
9.
How would you alter your writing style to suit our different reader demographics?
There are many ways that you can alter your writing style, but it's only a useful approach if you first understand the demographic to whom you are writing. Before your interview, you should have an excellent understanding of who will be reading the work that you deliver in this role. Perhaps one day you will be writing on finance and bitcoin and then the next, a piece on fashion or dating. This variety is a regular occurrence for most writers, and the interviewer wants to see that you can adapt. Share an example of a time when you successfully changed your writing style for a particular audience or specifically discuss how you plan to ensure your writing style is a match for this role.

Christina's Answer #1
"My personal writing style is educational, and based on research versus opinion. With that said, I like to add some lightheartedness into my writing on a regular basis. I have researched your demographics and understand that the bulk of your audience is male professionals, between the ages of 45-55, seeking sound financial and investments advice. I will ensure that my writing style is a fit by referring to experts in the industry, keeping sentences crisp and to-the-point, while also offering information from highly credible sources."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I first came across your publication while doing some reading on my own time. The style of your blog is informative yet entertaining which genuinely spoke to me since this is how I write, also. After conducting some research, I found that you have two primary demographics. One, the stay-at-home-mommy blogger and two, the solo entrepreneur who is seeking more information on how to run a successful business from a home office. I can adapt my writing style between the two demographics by bringing in relatable examples and referencing influencers from each particular space. I look forward to showing you what I can do!"
10.
In your opinion, what is the top cardinal sin in content marketing?
These days, a great writer will also be well versed in content marketing. The two topics often go hand-in-hand, and the interviewer wants to see that you are capable of creating content around modern marketing strategies. Discuss the biggest mistakes that you see in content marketing today, and then express how, as a writer, you avoid those pitfalls.

Christina's Answer #1
"Content marketing is a robust topic and one that, as a writer, I need to remain knowledgeable in at all times. Right now, at a time when content needs to be pushed out on a near-hourly basis, I see the biggest mistake is when companies publish content just for the sake of publishing. This strategy does more harm than good because it dilutes your content and frustrates your audience. It's much more valuable to have 50 engaged readers, who will click your call to action, than 1500 readers who swipe away or unsubscribe, the moment your content reaches them."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Putting out amazing content without having an 'ask' or a call to action, is one of the most significant mistakes that I see writers and marketers make today. When you do not ask the reader to do something, such as buy your e-book, share the article, or subscribe to your content, you are missing out on profitable opportunities."
11.
When do you find it most appropriate to use each of the two main style guides?
As you are aware, the two main style guides in US writing include AP Style (The Associated Press Stylebook) and The Chicago Manual of Style, more simply referred to as Chicago style. The interviewer is looking for in-depth knowledge of each method and when it is more appropriate to use one over the other. Discuss when you would use each, and give an example of a project you have completed, using each style guide. If you have completed knowledge testing on either of these style guides, you can mention your results.

Christina's Answer #1
"I find that AP Style is my go-to style for more casual or general writing such as online articles. The rules are more basic and less formal. I will incorporate the New Your Style Manual for legal documents, as I do have some clients who require legal editing. When it comes to academic papers, such as my thesis, I utilize Chicago Style. I recently took testing on all three style guides, and AP Style was my strongest with Chicago Style coming in a close second place."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Being formally trained in academic and technical writing, Chicago Style is the guide that I primarily follow, and the one in which I mainly write. I have many projects in progress, within the academic field, and Chicago Style is the one I use. When it comes to less formal writing, or journalistic style pieces, I will move to AP style."
12.
When have you failed to properly proofread a document that resulted in a loss or embarrassment with your company? What have you learned since making that mistake?
The way you handle mistakes, loss, and embarrassment says a lot about your character. For that reason, the interviewer would like to know about a time when you failed to proofread or edit properly. Discuss what the mistake was, what the repercussions were, how you fixed the situation, and what you learned from it.

Christina's Answer #1
"A few months ago I accidentally sent an unedited first draft to my client, rather than the completed and edited first draft. It was a new client for our agency, so the first impression was not ideal. The client called my boss to complain that my work was not what they expected. Upon further investigation, it came to light that the work I sent was, indeed, not the version intended for the client. What I learned from this error is to name and save my files more clearly."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"This year I gained my first UK based client. I did not thoroughly research British versus US English and sent them an e-book filled with spelling errors, according to their preferred English. I was very embarrassed that I did not have the foresight to think beyond my bubble, being sensitive to their language preferences. I ended up hiring a professional editor from the UK, out of pocket, so that I could be sure the second version my new client received was accurate. Now, when I intake new clients, I ask them which English version they prefer."
13.
What excites you the most about a being a professional writer?
The interviewer is interested in knowing what drives you to be a writer. A career as a writer can seem glamorous, but the truth is, there are long hours chained to your computer, studying topics that may be of zero interest to you, or mastering topics so complicated that they make your eyes cross. Being a writer can be a highly secluded and independent career, depending on the setting in which you work. Show the interviewer you are aware of the ups and downs associated with a job in writing but also explain what genuinely drives you, even on the more challenging days.

Christina's Answer #1
"What I enjoy most about writing is that my fuel is creativity, reading, and research. How many people get to learn while earning a living? In return, as a writer, I get to educate others. It truly is an honor."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"The greatest thing about being a writer is the fact that I can work wherever I wish. I have created incredible sales campaigns from my living room, best-selling e-books from my local coffee shop, and compelling articles and blogs poolside, on vacation. There are very few careers that offer this type of flexibility and fulfillment, all at the same time."
14.
Which writer has had the greatest influence on you, and why?
This question is meant to reveal who your greatest influences are, as a professional writer. Be prepared to discuss who you look up to as an inspiration in your writing and why this person has been so inspirational to your work. If you would like the interview to follow a more conversational tone, you can also ask the interviewer which writers are their favorite. You never know what you will learn by asking a question in return!

Christina's Answer #1
"Robert Frost is my biggest influence on the writing circuit because he can fill such a variety of deep meaning into just a few short lines. Then, the reader will interpret those words in their own special way. This method is one that takes years to master; however, I am a dedicated and determined writer."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am deeply inspired by a variety of poets and also copywriters. My range is vast! For poets, I would say that Maya Angelou's work has the most influence on me with the insight applied to every modern concept we broach. For copywriters, I greatly appreciate the work of Arman Assadi. I recently took his copywriting workshop, and it was incredible. I learned so much that I look forward to applying to this role with your company."
15.
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
The interviewer would like to know more about your personality and, considering you are a writer, you should have some unique yet memorable words in mind, for your response. Think about some of the best qualities you possess when it comes to your character, personality and work ethic, ensuring your examples make you a good fit for the job. The qualities you mention should reveal something more profound about you than what may be evident from the interview, or on paper.

Christina's Answer #1
"I would describe myself as adaptable, contagious, and determined. I am adaptable in my writing and all other aspects of my life, taking on new challenges and topics even if I am not fully versed in them. I am a contagious personality, making friends and connections easily. I thrive on networking. Also, I am determined to succeed in all that I do and take that determination to boost my team."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Ambitious, exuberant, and intuitive would be the words I would use to describe myself. I have a powerful desire to achieve my goals and be a success overall. I do not restrain myself when it comes to showing appreciation for my co-workers or a job at hand, which is why I have been called exuberant by previous employers. Lastly, I am talented when it comes to following leads and my gut, making me a highly intuitive individual."
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