You applied for the copywriting job and got the call to come in for an interview. Congrats! Now what? You need to prepare for the interview. This means having a ready answer for commonly asked questions and doing some prep work.
Your standard interview prep should involve familiarizing yourself with their company philosophy, reorganizing your print portfolio to features samples most similar to what they do, and preparing questions about how copywriters and designers work together in the company.
Much like any important test you ever took, you’ll want to thoroughly prepare and have the answers at the tip of your tongue.
Here are some things to do before—and during—your interview to get the job!
Create a Sample Piece of Copy Specifically for Your Interview
There’s a step you can take that will ensure you stand out from the competition and wow your interviewer. It’s something extra you can do that shows you’re both willing to go above and beyond and that you could come on board and hit the ground running.
The majority of agency websites will have a section that highlights their own portfolio of work—the pieces and campaigns they’ve put together for their clients. (In-house agencies are even easier since finding samples of their work often involves just finding advertising and marketing materials for the company.) Your key to ace a copywriting interview starts here.
What’s the best way to help your interviewer understand that you’ll be great at doing work for them? By doing a little of that work before they pay you to do it. If you want to wow your interviewer, create a couple of sample pieces that would fit in with the campaigns you see on their site.
Ideally, you’d work with a designer to create these samples just the way you would with other spec ads, but in this scenario—and only in this scenario—you could get away with just a copy doc that explains what the imagery would be.
I say that it’s acceptable to present just a copy doc because I’m assuming that you won’t have enough time to work with a designer. If this isn’t the case, though, definitely do everything you can to find a designer to mock up your concept. It will be much more impressive.
Why will these samples wow them? Well, first, they show that you’re willing to put in extra effort and that always looks good. But they’re also definitive proof that you know how to write copy, that you know how to write copy for a brand voice and campaign that are already established, and that you’d be able to hit the ground running as soon as they hire you.
And I can tell you for a fact that this works. Years ago when I was just starting out and applying for a contract role writing product descriptions for TJX (the parent company of TJ Maxx, Homegoods, and Marshalls), I didn’t have any samples that were applicable for that work.
So, what did I do? I put together product descriptions based on photos of clothing I saw on their site. The people I interviewed with specifically called this out and I can guarantee that these samples were a big part of why I got that contract work (which eventually became a full-time job as the sole copywriter for Marshalls).
Is it worth your time to put in a little bit of extra effort and create these samples? You’d better believe it.
Do Your Homework
The people you’re interviewing with want to know your insights based on what you’ve seen of their company. Research the company by digging into their website, look them up in industry publications, and follow them on social media. Google them to see what comes up. Have a prepared answer for the question you’ll most certainly be asked, “What do you know about our company?”
The prospective employer (or client if you’ll interviewing for a freelance job) already at least glanced at your online portfolio, but your prospective employer wants to know how you relate the work that you’ve already done with the work that they do. Show the interviewer work that relates to what they do. Make associations between the work you’ve done and their work. This not only shows you understand their company but that you’ll be able to be a good fit if you’re hired.
Have a Plan
The best interviewees will come in with three key points about themselves, their work, and their desired career direction to convey to their interviewer. They’ll have a plan about how they’ll convey the company’s or client’s unique selling proposition (or USP). Volunteer information about yourself and the benefits of hiring you. And when they ask questions, answer thoroughly and succinctly. You’ll be able to do this if you do your prep work beforehand!
During the interview, this prep work will certainly pay off.
Show Your Personality
Just as your work is being evaluated, you are being evaluated. Your interviewer wants to see if you’ll be a good fit with the team. Don’t hesitate to smile, joke, and talk about things you’re passionate about. After all, no one wants to work with someone who’s quiet and boring, right? Showcase your personality and friendliness and let them know you’d be a pleasure to work with!
An interview isn’t one-sided; it’s just as much for you to figure out if you want to work there as it is for them to figure out if they want to hire you. Remember that an interview is, after all, a conversation. Stay calm and answer questions as thoroughly as you can. Doing your prep work ahead of time will ensure you stay relaxed.
Who’s got the energy to think before or during a conversation? An interview should be an open dialogue. Ask questions throughout the meeting. Ask them anything you want to know about their company—anything you didn’t learn while researching them before your interview.
One Final Tip
I have just one more tip—and it’s a tip to help you get the job of your dreams.
Often interviewers won’t call references until they’re about to make a job offer. But your references might help to sway the decision in your favor. So, don’t wait to provide your references, and don’t just hand over names and phone numbers. At the beginning of the interview, give your prospective employer an envelope with written references from one or two people who highly praise you. If possible, try to have these people write them out to be applicable to the job you’re interviewing for.
No interviewer is going to be able to resist opening the envelope after you leave, and the glowing praise will leave them with a good feeling about you after your interview is over. This “testimonial envelope” makes sure your interview and their experience with you ends on a high note.
Watch for More Copywriting Interview Tips
If you have an interview coming up, watch this video for even more tips on how to ensure you put your best foot forward. You’ll also want to check out part one and three in this series to know what to do before you head to your interview and what to do after your interview is over.
What interview techniques have (or haven’t) worked for you? Do you have other tips to ace a copywriting interview? Let us know in the comments below!
Last Updated on July 4, 2023