If you're a writer or editor looking for work, you already know you can write well, but you may be feeling nervous about an in-person interview. But, you can ace your interview by prepping with some common job interview questions for writers and editors.
Practice is important for preparing for a job interview. Taking the initiative before an interview will likely make you appear cool, calm, and collected when you face your potential new employer.
Your composure and knowledge alike can give you an edge over the competition.
Questions About Personal Preferences
To better understand you and your relationship to the written word, your interviewer will likely ask you about your personal interests and preferences. For example, what books, magazines, or newspapers do you enjoy reading? You’ll need to do more than just rattle off a list of reading material. Be prepared to state why as well.
The interview may also ask if you read any blogs on writing and editing and which ones? He or she may also ask what you like about those particular blogs and websites.
Your prospective employer may also ask you if you have a favorite style guide and why you prefer one over the others or how much experience you have with a specific style. Keep in mind, however, that many publications have a designated style guide that’s similar to, but not the same as, one of the common styles.
Newspapers commonly choose the Associated Press' style guide, so your preference isn't likely to sway your employer to choose an altogether different guide. On the other hand, some news organizations use a style guide as a base and tweak the recommendations to meet their needs.
Questions About Interpersonal Skills and Conflict
Conflict is part of any job, so expect your interviewer to ask you how you handle tension and stressful situations. You might be asked how you would handle sensitive writers who question every edit you make.
You might also be questioned about how you would handle a freelance writer who regularly hands in subpar work.
Your interviewer will likely want to know how you handle the stress of deadlines. She might ask you to give an example of a time when you had to edit or write a piece under a strict deadline. Be able to describe how you ensured the deadline was met.
The employer will also want to know how you prioritize assignments. For example, if you have a 300-page document that's a rush job and you must edit it by the end of the day, how would you approach the task?
Alternatively, you might be asked to imagine you're faced with two projects with the same deadline. One client is easygoing while the other constantly calls to ask when it will be done. Which project do you make your top priority and why?
Computer Software Programs and Content Management Systems
In the 21st century, working as a writer or editor isn't just about putting words on a piece of paper. Employers want to know your experience with computer software programs and content management systems as well.
You might be asked how well you know InDesign and Quark and if you are familiar with any other page layout software. And don't be surprised if the interviewer asks you about your experience with web publishing using software such as WordPress.
More Job Interview Questions
In addition to job specific interview questions for writing and editing, you will also be asked more general questions about your employment history and education as well as your strengths, weaknesses, achievements, goals, and plans. Consult a list of the most common interview questions and examples of answers to prep for these sorts of questions.
The best way to prepare for an interview is to answer the potential questions out loud or have a friend or colleague read the questions to you so you can practice in front of a live person.
More Interview Preparedness Tips
You want to make a great first impression at your interview so be sure to choose an outfit that’s befitting of the job and company you hope to work for. Business dress may be the most appropriate or perhaps business casual will do. If you’re not sure how to dress, it’s probably better to dress up rather than dress down.