11 Copywriter Interview Questions to Ask Applicants
Whether you’re an employer looking to hire a copywriter, or a writer trying to anticipate what questions you may be asked in an upcoming job interview, these questions should help with your preparation.
Copywriting is one of those professions where attention to detail matters. Whether writing website landing pages, or product descriptions, the proof is in the engagement and the conversions. The more specific you can be with your questions, the more opportunities a copywriter will have to reveal their value.
Of course, every company has its own unique copywriting requirements. That’s why I’ve phrased these questions in a way that they can be modified and tailored to suit any industry. I believe that they cover the most important skills, processes and mindset that make a successful copywriter:
1. How do you approach research?
Why this matters: A significant proportion of a copywriter’s role involves research. Whether exploring new products, or keeping up-to-date with copywriting trends and techniques, a good copywriter will take the time to find out all they can to meet the requirements of a brief. Research also ensures that copy is factually accurate, and free from errors and omissions. Research skills are particularly important in today’s media landscape where sources are often misattributed, and news is often misreported.
What to look for: A good answer will include references to specific projects that required external research. The copywriter should be able to outline their process and explain how they verify the authenticity of research. This could include conducting expert interviews, gathering data from source material, or reading third-party reports.
2. Explain what your typical writing process looks like?
Why this matters: It’s often said that amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, whereas professionals get up and go to work. A good copywriter will have a writing routine that they follow to ensure they produce their best work. As an employer, you want to know that your copywriter can produce high quality writing on demand, without the need for external motivation.
What to look for: A structured routine. Every copywriter has their preferred way of working, but a process that includes research, planning, writing, editing, and gathering feedback is a good start. Also, taking time away from the screen is essential to avoiding burnout and losing objectivity on a project.
3. Can you provide an example of a time where you had to work as part of a team to deliver a project?
Why this matters: A lot of the time, copywriters work in isolation. However, the brief usually forms part of a bigger project and a good copywriter will be keen to maintain communication with all those involved. Although writing is usually done alone, it’s important that you hire someone who’ll fit well with your existing marketing team.
What to look for: A good answer might include examples of a copywriter working with a creative director, graphic designer, web developer, or account manager. They should be able to demonstrate what role they played in delivering the project, and what impact it had on the roles of others. They should also be able to provide details on the outcome of the project.
4. How have you adjusted your writing to appeal to different target audiences?
Why this matters: Copywriters should be able to write in a way that appeals to different demographics. Even companies that have a very specific target audience need to be able to adjust their tone of voice for different mediums. For example, a sales page will have a different tone from a press release, or a social media post.
What to look for: A portfolio that shows diversity in tone of voice. Even if a copywriter only has experience writing for one sector, they should be able to show examples of how they adjusted a piece of content to fit a different medium.
5. Can you provide an example of a time where you had to manage a copywriting project that had a tight turnaround?
Why this matters: Some industries are known for being fast-moving. This often means that written communications need to be created at short notice. A copywriter who can plan, organise and deliver a piece of writing with a minimal brief can help a company respond quickly to market trends and developments.
What to look for: A good answer will demonstrate the writer’s ability to use their initiative and follow a tried-and-tested writing process. Good copywriting examples might include topical articles, or time-sensitive work that was delivered on time.
6. What are some common copywriting techniques you employ to encourage readers to take action?
Why this matters: An experienced writer will use various persuasion techniques to create a sense of urgency, or an emotional connection. The psychology behind what motivates people often informs the language used in a sales letter or landing page.
What to look for: A good answer could include an explanation of why specific words were chosen a in piece of writing, or why the piece was structured in a specific way. The writer might make reference to copywriting formulas, headline structures, customer objections, benefit and features, unique selling points, and social proof, to name a few.
7. Tell us about the most successful copywriting project you’ve worked on. What made the project successful?
Why this matters: This question can provide an insight into what a candidate sees as a successful project. For your company, success might look like increased revenue, improved engagement, or flawless execution. The project that the writer chooses to describe will let you know what they see as a top priority.
What to look for: Every company will have its own definition of success, but a good answer might include one that has measurable results. Simply delivering a project on time doesn’t provide enough insight into how the writer might fit in with your company values and existing marketing teams.
8. Tells us about a time when you received more revisions on a piece of work than you were expecting. How did you respond to the feedback?
Why this matters: Feedback and revisions are to be expected as a copywriter. Even when a piece of work is entirely on brief, clients or third parties often request adjustments. The way a copywriter responds to feedback is key. It’s important that a writer is able to distance themselves from the work to a certain extent and retain objectivity.
What to look for: A good answer will demonstrate the writer’s ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. Copywriting is all about writing for a target audience and respecting the decisions of clients and stakeholders. Interviewers should also look for a willingness to please and a lack of ego about their work.
9. What approach do you take to overcome writer’s block?
Why this matters: Every copywriter faces writer’s block. Sometimes they may have a lack of interest in a topic, or they can’t seem to get motivated. Other times they may been suffering from burnout. An experienced copywriter will be able to recognise when they have writer’s block and understand what works best for them to overcome their barriers to writing.
What to look for: Copywriters should have an awareness of their own writing habits and be able to follow a process for overcoming writer’s block quickly. Some copywriters might make use of tools like the Pomodoro Technique, whereas others might find that taking time away from the screen, or talking the issue through with someone else helps.
10. What copywriting tools do you use on a daily basis?
Why this matters: There are a wealth of copywriting tools that can assist in the writing process. Although software can’t replace human writing, it can help spark creativity, check for grammatical errors and improve readability and flow.
What to look for: Even if a writer doesn’t make use of many tools, they should still have an awareness of what’s out there. Some tools to listen out for could include SEMRush, Grammarly, Hemingway App, and Readable.
11. What do you think about the copywriting on our website? How would you improve it?
Why this matters: This shows that a copywriter has done their homework. A good writer will be able to read through a few pages of a website and get a feel for what works and what needs improved. It also gives them the chance to demonstrate how they will be of value to your company.
What to look for: Every website has different copywriting needs, but it would be useful to have an internal list of what you think needs improving on your site. An experienced copywriter will probably be able to identify other areas for improvement that you may have overlooked. Look for mention of page structure, tone of voice, language, persuasion techniques, internal linking and calls to action.
What do you think of these copywriter interview questions? As an interviewer, are there any you’d add to the list? How about as a copywriter? What questions have you been asked as an interviewee?