No single job interview question can differentiate good writers from bad. Writing tests can show which candidates have the right skills.
The difference between a good writer and a bad writer is enormous. Good writers are agile, quick idea machines who can turn out insightful copy at a reliable pace, while bad writers often offer murky, confusing copy inconsistently. To make sure that you’re choosing the right writers for the job, you should consider creating a creative test for prospective members of your writing team. Here are several items you could include on such a test to find the best.
1. Writing Prompt
Create a sample task similar to the type of writing you expect. Ask writers to write 300-500 words in response. Make your guidelines similar to those for real tasks so that you can see how writers would respond on the job. For example, If you expect quotes from sources to be integrated into your content, include a few quotes in your sample prompt that writers must use in their response.
2. Create a Google Scavenger Hunt
If you’ll need writers to do web research, you’ll want to test their research skills. One way to approach this is to create a scavenger hunt. Give writers a list of five to ten questions that they’ll have to answer from general research. This will also show you what the writer considers to be a credible source.
3. What’s Wrong With This?
Ask each writer to edit a sample piece of writing. This test shows the writer’s awareness of common errors — mistakes they’re likely to make, or avoid — in their own writing.
4. Fill In The Blank
Make sure writers know the difference between commonly mixed up words like “your” and “you’re” with a fill-in-the-blank test. Give the writers 5-10 sentences, with each sentence containing two blank spaces and a pair of commonly confused words. Score writers on their ability to match the right word with the right blank. This exercise demonstrates that your writers won’t make these kinds of mistakes.
5. Ask Writers to Rewrite Headlines
Writing short, attention-grabbing headlines is vital skill for content writers. Provide your prospective writers with five to 10 clunky, long or uninteresting headlines and ask them to rewrite them. Provide a variety of sample headlines for your writers to work with. For example, make some headlines too long, others wordy and still others awkward sounding. That way, you can test your writers’ headline writing skills and make sure they know all basic techniques of writing strong headlines.
Before hiring a content writer, you need to make sure he or she can deliver the quality content you need in a timely manner. Use some or all of these techniques to get an idea of how a potential candidate would behave on-the-job.