Great content is the foundation stone of each successful campaign, website, or brand building effort. Both big and small corporations are well aware of the importance of excellent content creation. They employ writers, marketers, and content strategists–experienced professionals who oversee the entire process of content creation in the company, choosing the right topics, deciding about the “hows”, and assigning individual jobs to writers and marketers.

You’ll have a lot of responsibility in this job, but you can also have strong impact on the success (or failure) of the business you work for. Content strategist is definitely a rewarding role, and I will try to show you how to get this job in an interview. Let’s have a look at the questions you may face.

 

Can you please tell us more about your previous experience in the field?

You have to prepare one thing before the interview, at least if you want to succeed: a portfolio of your best works. It should include your most successful projects, not necessarily limited to content published online.

If you published a book, any leaflets or bulletins, or anything else which demonstrates your creativity and attention to detail, you can include it in your portfolio. Remember that to see something once is better than to hear about it a thousand times.

Once you open your portfolio and start talking about your past works, you should always explain the goal of each creation, and what you tried to achieve with this or that campaign, website, text, etc. You set clear goals, and planned your strategy accordingly, producing the most fitting pieces of content.

You can also elaborate on it, clarifying whether you met your goals, and if not, what was the reason. Try to include a variety of materials in your portfolio. As a content strategist you’ll be typically responsible for website content, social media content, but sometimes also news content or the content for the internal communication with the employees.

Show the hiring managers that you have experience with different types of content, and can plan a strategy for different situations.

 

How would you define our content strategy? In your opinion, what should we improve on?

You have to do your research to find out the right answer to this question. Check all public channels of the company. What audience do they target with their messages? What style do they prefer? How frequently do they post? What is the engagement rate?

Do not forget to look at their content also from the position of a strategist. Do they convey the same message and values across different channels? Are they consistent in their publishing activity? Have their messages, or the entire channels, clear call to action on them?

Remember that if they were satisfied with their content strategy, they would not look for a new content strategist. Hence you should point out few areas of improvement, or at least present some suggestions about how they can do things better…

How do you come up with ideas for new content?

Just do not say that you spy on competitors and copy their ideas. Many content creators do so, but believe me that they are not going to pay you $60,000 or more annually for copying someone… You should suggest some creative ways of coming up with new content ideas. For example:

  • Setting overall goals for the campaign first, and then brainstorm ideas for new content, either alone, or within the team of content creators and marketers from the company.
  • Working with analytical tools, and internal data, trying to identify optimal content ideas for each given campaign.
  • Using your creativity and vast experience in the field to deduce new content ideas…

The power is in data, and you can always rely on information from Google Analytics and other tools for social media, to give you a good hint on what works, and what does not work for various campaigns and purposes…

 

Imagine that your task is to find an excellent new writer for the company. How will you proceed?

You should show that you have some system in your work. Starting directly with job boards, or looking at Freelancer, isn’t the right way to find an excellent writer, one that will fit the team. You can suggest the following process:

  • Creating the ideal candidate profile – in terms of education, past writing experience, style, specialization, etc.
  • Writing a compelling and easy to understand job description – to ensure that candidates find your offer attractive, and only people who meet the requirements apply.
  • Posting the offer on job boards, or on portals for freelancers, waiting for applications.
  • Sending test orders to the selected candidates, to see how they really work, what they can really produce in terms of writing.
  • Interviewing the shortlisted applicants, choosing the best match for the company and for the given offer.

 

What is your experience with keyword research? What tools do you use?

Successful content strategists do not rely solely on their experience and intuition. They use powerful keyword research tools like Ahrfefs, Keywords Everywhere, or Semrush, trying to find content topics people actually search for, either on Google, or on social media.

Explain clearly what software or tool you work with, and why you prefer it to other, competing tools. If you have experience with specific modules, for example Content Gap from Ahrefs, you can point it out. Describe how it helps you to identify low competition keywords and great content topics for your websites and social media channels.

And if you haven’t worked with these tools before (perhaps you didn’t need it in your past job, or didn’t have the budget to purchase the subscription), ensure the interviewers that you are aware of them, and ready to learn to work with each one.

 

What do you expect from illustrators, marketers, writers, and other people you’ll cooperate with in this job?

You have two options for a good answer. One is saying that you do not have any special expectations on other professionals working in the company. You expect a lot from one person only–yourself. You simply prefer to focus on your job, do it as well as you can, taking care of your duties with enthusiasm and commitment.

Of course you won’t be an isolated unit in the company. You’ll interact with your colleagues, but you try to focus on your side of the equation. Trying to build good relationship with your colleagues, being attentive to their needs, listening carefully to their feedback, and sending requests and materials on time, you are sure you’ll have a good cooperation together.

Another alternative is focusing on communication. You expect honest and critical feedback from your colleagues. What’s more, you hope they will follow the overall direction you set for the content creation. At the end of the day it’s your role to set the strategy. Other people should follow it, at least once you agreed upon it…

Other questions you may face in your content strategist job interview

  • What do you do to stay updated about the latest trends in content creation and design?
  • What books are you currently reading?
  • Do you have a favorite CMS? Why do you prefer it to other content management systems?
  • You probably know something about our company by now. Who do you consider our target customer, and what channels are appropriate to address such audience?
  • How do you judge the success of a campaign, or of an individual piece of content?
  • If we hire you for this position, what will be the first thing you will do in the office?
  • Practical test: Write a press release for our new product ABC; Review this piece of content and tell us what you’d improve on it; other practical test…

 

Conclusion, next steps

The most important thing in the interview for a Content Strategist job is your portfolio. As long as you manage to demonstrate (with the help of your past works) that you understand what makes an excellent content, and that you can create it, or outsource it, your situation will be much easier.

They won’t be super strict about your interview answers when they like your portfolio. Practical test is another crucial part of this hiring process–if you do well, they may even tolerate a moment of silence after one of their questions.

On the other hand, if you do not have a portfolio, and fail to demonstrate your understanding for their existing content strategy, goals, and audiences, it will be an uphill battle in the interview, and you’ll need superb answers to have a chance to succeed. I hope you will manage to prepare, and  I wish you good luck!

Matthew

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Matthew Chulaw
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