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Hiring a Writer? 10 Qualifying Questions to Ask Every Candidate

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Thinking about outsourcing your content? That’s probably the right call, but don’t jump the gun on hiring a writer without asking these 10 questions first. 

Key takeaways:

  • Outsourcing content is a great way to get your time back (and some really great content on your hands)
  • You shouldn’t hire a new writer without having an interview to make sure there’s a good fit in terms of culture, work ethic, and expectations
  • Skipping the questions could mean starting a relationship with the wrong writer, leading to bad content and missed deadlines
  • It’s not easy to interview every writer candidate if you’re already a busy CMO or business owner, but you can outsource to ContentBacon and get access to great writers without the legwork

If you’re reading this, you probably have a ton on your plate and don’t need to add content writing to the to-do list. Hiring a writer is a great idea – you’ll get your time back, which means you can spend it on high-level pursuits instead (like building that ROI deck or coming up with a new product idea). 

Plus, if writing content isn’t your M.O., then it’s definitely preferable to outsource it to somebody who does it for a living. Nobody can wear all the hats at once, so why not leave this hat to someone comfortable wearing it? After all, content quality truly matters – mediocre content is as good as no content at all. 

That leaves you to the next conundrum… how to hire a writer who’s a fabulous fit, knows your industry, and can tell your story in your own voice. 

That’s a tall order, but it’s pretty much not negotiable. You need out-of-this-world content, so you need a kickass writer. 

Never hired a writer before? We’re pretty much pros at seeking out the world’s best writers by now, so let us hold your hand. 

Our biggest tip: Have a list of important questions and ask every writer you encounter every one of them. (We’ll tell you why.) 


The 10 questions you should ask every writer

You might want to hire a writer fast and get it over with, but here’s where it’s important to take your time. 

Your outsourcing process should include an interview phase where you ask potential writers the most important questions and evaluate their answers. Skipping this part could leave you stuck with a writer who doesn’t really offer what you need, and you don’t want that. 

Luckily, we’ve got this part down to a science. Here’s what we ask candidates when hiring a writer and why: 

  1. Can we do a paid test project?

A paid test project ensures that your writer has the chops to back up their resume. It lets you see how deadline-oriented a writer is, how well they follow a prompt, and what kind of quality you can expect. Plus, your potential writer gets to see a snapshot of what working with you is like, too. 

  1. What’s your research process for an unfamiliar industry?

Chances are, at some point in your relationship, you’re going to ask your writer for content in an area they’re unfamiliar with. It might be a topic they don’t know or an entire industry, but either way, knowing their research process gives confidence that they know how to become a lay expert fast. 

  1. What industries do you write for the most?

You probably want a writer who has some experience writing in your industry, so it’s fine to look for a writer with that particular expertise. If you have a healthcare company, it’s great to know that a writer has most of their experience in medical product writing, for instance.  

  1. How do you optimize your writing for SEO?

SEO optimization is an important part of content writing, and it always has been. You want a writer who doesn’t look at you like you grew another head when you ask how they optimize content for SEO. Do they use keyword best practices or include metadata? 

  1. What’s your process for finding keywords?

Unless you plan to provide all your own keywords, it’s important to know a writer has the savvy needed to choose keywords and base content around them. The process for choosing keywords can be as simple as using tools like Moz or Wordstream. As long as they have a working strategy, that’s what’s important. 

  1. How did you start your career as a content writer?

This question can be a big conversation starter, and it lets you know a little bit about your writer’s background. If someone started their career in a content mill and has been there ever since, they might not be the most experienced at research-based, quality writing. 

  1. What tells you that your content writing has been successful?

Here’s a big one – does your writer check KPIs to know if their content succeeds? Assuming your writer is helping with strategy, how do they know whether the content they’re writing is working? Your writer should have a process for judging how useful their end content actually is. 

  1. What types of content writing are you the most experienced in?

Whether it’s social media, blogging, or conversion copy, most writers have a specific type of content writing that’s their specialty (or maybe a few). It’s good to know ahead of time if a writer is super experienced in the type of content you want from them. 

  1. How do you handle feedback and revisions?

It’s pretty rare to get content exactly right the first time, so you’ll want to know a writer’s process for handling feedback and revisions. Do they offer a certain number of revisions included in their fee, or do they bill extra for edits? What’s their process for getting your feedback? 

  1. What tools do you use in your content writing?

This is subjective because there are so many writing tools out there, and most of them are great. (We’re looking at you, Grammarly.) Even if the writer doesn’t use your particular tools of choice, it’s good to know that they have a process and know how to use certain tools to get the job done. 


Why so many questions? 

It’s all too common for a writer to look great on paper but end up being a poor fit in reality. After all, a good resume and fancy writing sample don’t necessarily reflect things like culture fit. Trust us – the more questions you ask, the better the potential fit. 

You don’t want to skip the questions and find out later you missed a red flag. Picking a writer who doesn’t pan out can put your content project behind, put you out of time and money, and leave you with subpar content that doesn’t really tell your story. 


Skip the interview process and work with content pros 

We get it – you’re busy and don’t have the time to sit down and ask 10 questions of every writer who crosses your path. 

That doesn’t make it any less important to have well-vetted writers on your project. It just means you need a kickass partner who can do the legwork for you. (Hint: It’s ContentBacon.)

When you partner with ContentBacon, you get automatic access to a team of star content writers, plus editors and strategists to keep all your content on track and on-brand. 

Let’s make your content sizzle – check out our subscription packages to get tasty content on demand! 

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