15 Literary Interview Questions and Answers

Prepare for the types of questions you are likely to be asked when interviewing for a position where Literary skills will be used.

No matter what job you’re applying for, you’re likely to face an interview. And while some interviews are more relaxed, others can be quite intense. If you’re applying for a job in the literary world, you may be wondering what kind of questions you’ll be asked.

While the specific questions will depend on the job you’re applying for, there are some general literary interview questions that you can expect. In this guide, we’ll give you some tips on how to answer common literary interview questions so you can ace your next interview.


1. What is literature?

This question is a basic literary skill test. It tests your knowledge of the definition and purpose of literature, which are two important aspects of being a successful writer. When answering this question, define what literature is and explain why it’s important to society.

Example: “Literature is writing that has artistic value. It can be in any form, such as poetry or short stories, but it always tells a story. Literature is important because it allows us to explore new ideas and emotions through reading. This helps us understand others’ perspectives and empathize with them.”

2. What are the types of literary genres in English?

This question is a basic literary skill test that many employers ask. It’s important to show your knowledge of the different types of genres and how they’re used in literature. You can answer this question by naming each type of genre and giving an example of one you’ve read or written before.

Example: “There are three main types of literary genres in English, including fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Fiction includes short stories, novels and plays, while nonfiction includes essays, biographies and memoirs. Poetry is also considered a literary genre because it uses language creatively to express emotions.”

3. Can you explain what a short story is and how it differs from other forms of fiction like novels, novellas, or flash fictions?

This question is a great way to test your literary knowledge and see how you can apply it in the workplace. When answering, make sure to define what each form of fiction is and give an example of each type.

Example: “A short story is a piece of fiction that’s usually under 10,000 words. It differs from other forms of fiction like novels, novellas and flash fictions because it has a beginning, middle and end. The plot is also more focused on one event or idea rather than multiple events or ideas.”

4. Can you explain what drama is and how it differs from other forms of fiction?

This question is a great way to test your knowledge of literary terms and concepts. It also helps the interviewer understand how you define different types of writing, which can be helpful when deciding whether or not you’re qualified for the position. When answering this question, try to use examples from your own experience with drama and other forms of fiction.

Example: “Drama is one of the three main categories of literature. It’s defined as any work that focuses on conflict between characters. Drama differs from tragedy because it has a happy ending. Tragedy is defined as any work that ends in death or failure. Comedy is another form of drama that ends happily.”

5. What do you understand by poetry? Can you give examples of some famous poems?

This question is a way for the interviewer to assess your literary skills. It also helps them understand what you value in literature and how you might approach their organization’s work.

Example: “Poetry is an art form that uses language creatively, often with rhythm or rhyme. There are many types of poetry, including free verse, sonnets, haiku, limericks, ballads, epic poems and more. Some famous examples include William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18, John Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale and Lord Byron’s She Walks in Beauty.”

6. What’s your favorite poem and why do you like it?

This question is a great way to see how literary-minded you are. It’s also an opportunity for you to show your personality and creativity. You can choose any poem that speaks to you, but it’s best if you explain why you like it.

Example: “My favorite poem is ‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost because I love the idea of taking risks in life. The speaker in this poem has two options before him, and he chooses the one less traveled. This poem reminds me that we all have choices to make, and sometimes those choices lead us down different paths than we expected.”

7. Is there anything about Shakespeare that puzzles you?

This question is a great way to show your literary skills and knowledge. It also shows that you are willing to learn more about the subject. You can answer this question by explaining what you do know about Shakespeare, then asking for clarification on something you don’t understand.

Example: “I have read many of his plays, but I am still confused about some of the characters. For example, in ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ Mercutio seems like he’s one character, but then later it seems like he’s Romeo’s friend. I’m not sure if there was another character with the same name or if Shakespeare just changed his mind.”

8. Can you explain the difference between archaisms and neologisms?

Literary terms are often used in the publishing industry, so interviewers may ask you to define or describe a few of them. This question is asking about two literary terms that have similar definitions but different applications. Use examples from your experience to explain what each term means and how it’s used.

Example: “Archaisms and neologisms both refer to new words or phrases that enter the language. However, archaisms are old words or phrases that are reintroduced into modern usage while neologisms are newly created words or phrases. In my last role as an editor, I worked with several writers who were trying to decide whether they should use an archaic word or phrase or create a neologism for their work.”

9. How does literary analysis differ from literary criticism?

Literary analysis and literary criticism are two different approaches to analyzing literature. Literary analysis is a more scientific approach that focuses on the technical aspects of a work, while literary criticism is an interpretive process that analyzes how a piece of literature relates to other works or its historical context. Your answer should show your interviewer that you can use both approaches effectively.

Example: “Literary analysis differs from literary criticism in that it’s a more objective process. When I’m conducting literary analysis, I focus on the elements of a text such as plot structure, character development and theme. In contrast, literary criticism involves making subjective interpretations about a work based on my own experiences and knowledge. For example, if I were reading ‘The Great Gatsby,’ I would analyze the characters’ motivations for their actions and compare them to similar characters in other works.”

10. Can you explain what metonymy is? Give me an example.

This question is a great way to test your literary skills. It’s also an excellent opportunity for you to show the interviewer that you can apply what you know about literature in real-world situations.

Example: “Metonymy is when one thing represents another thing. For example, if I said ‘the pen is mightier than the sword,’ it would be metonymy because I’m using the word ‘pen’ to represent writing and the word ‘sword’ to represent fighting. In my last role as a copywriter, I used this literary device quite often. I’d write something like ‘The best pizza in town is at Joe’s Pizzeria.’ This sentence uses the word ‘pizza’ to represent all of the delicious food they serve.”

11. Do you think authors have any responsibility when writing books? If yes, then what kind of responsibility?

This question is a way for the interviewer to assess your understanding of ethics in writing. It’s important that you show respect for other writers and their work, as well as the publishing industry as a whole.

Example: “Authors have a responsibility to write books that are entertaining and engaging. They should also be respectful of other authors’ works and not plagiarize or copy them in any way. I think it’s important to understand that when we publish our work, we’re representing ourselves and the entire literary community. We need to make sure that what we’re putting out there is quality work.”

12. Who would you consider to be your favorite author? Why?

This question can help the interviewer get to know you as a person and how your literary skills apply in real-life situations. It also helps them understand what kind of books you enjoy reading, which can be an important factor when considering whether or not you’re a good fit for the position.

Example: “I would have to say that my favorite author is J.K. Rowling. I’ve always been fascinated by her ability to create such a magical world with so many intricate details. Her writing style is very unique and captivating, and she’s definitely inspired me to pursue a career in literature.”

13. What attracts you to certain kinds of stories or characters?

This question can help the interviewer get a sense of your literary preferences and how they align with their publication’s style. Your answer should include examples of what you enjoy reading, but it can also be helpful to explain why you like those stories or characters.

Example: “I love science fiction because I find it so interesting to think about what could happen in the future. I’m also fascinated by dystopian worlds because I love seeing how authors imagine different ways that society could fall apart. As for characters, I really enjoy protagonists who are flawed but still manage to overcome obstacles. I feel like these kinds of characters make for more compelling stories.”

14. Have you ever read something and thought “I wish I’d written that”?

This question is a great way to show your literary skills and how you can apply them in the workplace. When answering this question, it’s important to be honest about what you’ve read that inspired you.

Example: “I once read an article online about how to write better dialogue. I thought it was so helpful because I’d been struggling with my characters’ conversations for a while. After reading that article, I applied some of its tips to my next story and noticed a huge improvement. It made me realize that there are always new ways to improve our writing.”

15. Are there any specific topics that you feel strongly about?

This question can help the interviewer get a better sense of your personality and values. It also helps them understand how you might approach writing about certain topics, such as politics or religion. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention a specific topic that you feel strongly about and why.

Example: “I have always felt very passionate about animal rights. I grew up in a household where we were vegetarian, so I was exposed to many ideas about animal cruelty at an early age. In my last job, I wrote several articles on the importance of adopting pets from shelters rather than buying them from pet stores. I also wrote about ways people could reduce their carbon footprint by reducing their consumption of meat.”


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