17 Staff Writer Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from a staff writer, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

Staff writers are an important part of any organization, whether it’s a small business or a large corporation. They are the people who keep the organization running by producing quality content that engages the audience and helps the company achieve its goals.

If you want to be a staff writer, you’ll need to be able to answer common interview questions about writing. You’ll also need to be able to write well on a wide variety of topics. In this guide, you’ll find tips on how to answer staff writer interview questions, as well as a list of common questions that you may be asked. You’ll also learn how to write a great response to any interview question.

Are you familiar with AP style?

The Associated Press Stylebook is a reference guide that journalists use to ensure they are using proper grammar and punctuation. The interviewer may ask this question to see if you have experience with AP style or other similar guides. In your answer, let the interviewer know whether you’re familiar with AP style and describe any previous experience you’ve had with it.

Example: “I am very familiar with AP style. I used it in my last position as a staff writer for a local newspaper where we followed AP style guidelines. I also took an online course on AP style when I was studying journalism at university. It’s always good to refresh my knowledge of these things, so I still refer to the course material from time to time.”

What are some of the most important skills for a staff writer to have?

This question can help the interviewer determine if you have the skills necessary to succeed in this role. When answering, it can be helpful to mention a few of your strongest skills and how they relate to the job description.

Example: “I think one of the most important skills for a staff writer is strong communication skills. This position requires me to work with many different people, including editors and other writers. I also need to communicate clearly with my audience through my writing. Another skill that’s important for this role is creativity. A staff writer needs to come up with new ideas regularly, so having an active imagination is essential. Finally, research skills are vital because I need to do thorough research before writing any articles.”

How do you stay up-to-date with changes in the industry?

As a writer, you need to be aware of the latest trends and developments in your industry. Employers ask this question to make sure that you have an active interest in your field and are willing to put in the time to stay informed. In your answer, share two or three ways you keep up with changes in your industry.

Example: “I am subscribed to several writing blogs and newsletters. I also follow many writers on social media who regularly post about their work. This helps me learn about new publications, tools for writers and other news in the industry. Another way I stay current is by attending conferences and workshops. Attending these events allows me to meet other writers and learn from them directly.”

What is your process for conducting an interview?

Interviewing is a key part of the staff writer’s job. Employers ask this question to make sure you have experience conducting interviews and can do so effectively. In your answer, explain what steps you take when interviewing someone for an article. Explain that you will likely start by asking them questions about their background and experiences. You may also want to mention that you will be taking notes during the interview to ensure you remember everything they say.

Example: “I always try to conduct my interviews in person whenever possible. I find it helps me get more information from the source than if I were to conduct the interview over the phone or through email. When I meet with sources, I first introduce myself and thank them for agreeing to speak with me. Then, I usually begin by asking them some background questions about themselves. This gives me a chance to learn more about who they are and why they might be qualified to give advice on the topic we’re discussing.”

Provide an example of a time when you had to conduct research for an article.

The interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your research skills and how you apply them in the workplace. Use examples from your previous experience that highlight your ability to conduct thorough research, use credible sources and incorporate new information into your work.

Example: “In my last position as a staff writer for a local newspaper, I was assigned to write an article on the best places to eat in town. To complete this assignment, I visited several restaurants and interviewed the owners and managers. I also spoke with customers who had recently dined at these establishments to get their opinions on the quality of food and service. After conducting all of this research, I wrote a comprehensive piece that included details about each restaurant’s menu, pricing and customer reviews.”

If you were given a topic you were unfamiliar with, how would you go about researching it?

This question can help the interviewer determine how you approach unfamiliar topics and whether you have strategies for researching information. Use your answer to highlight your research skills, attention to detail and ability to complete assignments on time.

Example: “If I was given a topic that I wasn’t familiar with, I would first ask my editor or supervisor if they had any suggestions for resources where I could find more information about it. If not, I would use search engines like Google and Bing to look up key words related to the topic and read through the results until I found an article or resource that provided enough information to write the piece.”

What would you do if you were assigned to write an article on a subject you strongly disagreed with?

This question can help interviewers understand how you handle challenges in your work. Your answer should show that you are willing to do research and write an unbiased article on the subject, even if you disagree with it.

Example: “I would first try to find out why I disagreed with the subject. If I could not find any valid sources or information to support my opinion, then I would accept that I was wrong and rewrite the article from a neutral standpoint. However, if I found evidence to support my stance, I would include this information in the article as well.”

How well do you think you can manage deadlines under pressure?

Writers often have to meet deadlines, and employers want to know that you can manage them effectively. When answering this question, it’s important to show your ability to work under pressure while still meeting the deadline.

Example: “I think I do well with managing deadlines because of my experience in writing for newspapers. In my last position, I was responsible for covering a lot of different stories each day, which meant I had to write several articles per week. This helped me get used to working quickly and efficiently so I could meet all of my deadlines.”

Do you have any experience working with graphics or multimedia?

This question can help the interviewer determine your level of experience with multimedia and graphics. If you have relevant experience, share it in detail to show how you used these skills to benefit your previous employer.

Example: “In my last position as a staff writer for a local newspaper, I was responsible for creating all multimedia content including videos, infographics and slideshows. This helped me develop my ability to create engaging content that readers would find interesting. In addition, I learned how to use different types of software to edit photos and videos and add text and graphics to them.”

When writing an article, what is your process for structuring and organizing your thoughts?

The interviewer may ask this question to understand how you approach writing and the steps you take when completing a task. Your answer should include your process for structuring an article, including outlining, researching and conducting interviews.

Example: “I begin by reading through the publication’s style guide to ensure I am familiar with their preferred language and formatting. Next, I create an outline of my ideas and topics that I want to cover in the piece. After creating the outline, I research each topic thoroughly so I can provide accurate information. Finally, I conduct interviews with experts on the subject matter to add more depth to my reporting.”

We want to encourage our readers to take action based on the information we provide. How would you encourage our readers to act after reading your article?

This question helps the interviewer understand how you can help their audience. Your answer should show that you know how to encourage action and what types of actions are most effective for your target audience.

Example: “I would make sure my article included a call to action, or CTA, at the end. CTAs are statements that tell readers exactly what they need to do next after reading an article. For example, I might write something like ‘If you want to learn more about this topic, check out our blog post on it.’ This tells the reader what they should do next and provides them with another resource.”

Describe your writing style.

This question can help the interviewer determine if your writing style is a good fit for their publication. Your answer should include examples of how you write and what types of stories you typically cover.

Example: “I have always been passionate about sports, so I started my journalism career as a sportswriter at my local newspaper. My writing style focuses on telling interesting stories that are relevant to readers. For example, when covering a football game, I would focus on the most exciting plays and highlight any important statistics or records that were broken. In my last position, I also wrote several opinion pieces where I shared my thoughts on current events in the sports world.”

What makes you the best candidate for this position?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your qualifications and how you feel about the job. Before your interview, make a list of reasons why you are qualified for this position. Think about what skills you have that match the job description. Also, think about which aspects of the job you’re most excited about.

Example: “I am the best candidate for this position because I am passionate about writing and storytelling. I also love researching topics and finding new information. In my last role as a staff writer, I wrote several articles each week on different topics. I always found it exciting to find new information and write about it.”

Which writers or publications do you admire most?

This question can help an interviewer learn more about your writing background and interests. It can also give them a better idea of what kind of writer you are, which can be helpful when deciding whether to hire you for the position. When answering this question, it can be beneficial to mention writers or publications that have similar goals as the publication you’re interviewing with.

Example: “I admire The New York Times most because they always publish quality journalism pieces. I also really enjoy reading The Washington Post’s political coverage because their journalists do such a great job at reporting on both sides of the aisle. I think that balance is important in today’s media landscape.”

What do you think is the most important aspect of writing for the web?

The interviewer is likely to ask you a question like this one to see how well you understand the role of a staff writer. Your answer should show that you know what it takes to be successful in this position and can explain your reasoning for why you think something is important.

Example: “I believe the most important aspect of writing for the web is creating content that’s easy to read and interesting to the reader. If I’m not able to do these two things, then my audience won’t find my work valuable enough to share with others or come back to read more of my articles. To me, this means making sure my sentences are short and simple, using plenty of subheadings and including images where appropriate.”

How often do you write?

This question can help interviewers understand how you balance your workload. They may ask this to see if you have experience with a deadline-driven environment and whether you’re able to meet deadlines consistently. In your answer, try to explain that you are organized enough to manage multiple assignments at once and that you can meet deadlines on time.

Example: “I write every day, usually for about two hours in the morning before work. I find that writing regularly helps me stay focused and creative. When I’m working as a staff writer, I typically take on one or two pieces per week. However, when I’m freelancing, I sometimes take on more than one assignment per week.”

There is a gap in your writing history. How will you explain this to us?

If you have a gap in your writing history, the interviewer will want to know why. You can explain that you took time off from writing or were working on other projects during this time.

Example: “I had an internship at a newspaper where I wrote several articles per week for two years. After graduating college, I worked as a freelance writer for five years before taking a job with my current employer. During those five years of freelancing, I learned how to write for many different publications and audiences. This experience has helped me become more versatile as a writer.”


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