Why a Writing Test is Not Sufficient when Hiring Content Writers?

Categories Blogging, Freelancing, Writing
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The hiring and recruitment of a content writer often start with a writing test. You might have experienced it many times while applying for the job of content writers either as a freelancer, full-time employee working in-house or for a remote position.
In most of the companies, you will find an absurd process of hiring writers. For example, they will call the candidate to come up for interview and screening test with a resume, and before viewing their resume, they will hand-over him or her a paper to write an article about a product which they might have never heard before.
There, the writer under-performs and is judged and rejected in the first instance. This is a complete unjust of evaluating an entire mind of words, thoughts, humor, and stories with a boring topic.
Now, you can ask yourself the reasons on why a newcomer does not seem to be a good fit for your company the moment he or she appears in the interview. Let me share some of the reasons I have in mind.

1. Not all writers know Content Marketing

Content writing is a massive industry. The writers are hired and kept busy in producing content without thorough training of SEO and digital marketing. They are capable of producing content high in quality, which is not Search Engine Optimized.
They neither have the exposure of finding competitive keywords for your products or services nor they know mentioning the keyword so that it makes sense. So, you may need to guide a writer while taking a test for a specific purpose or marketing platform.

2. Not all them work in Software Houses

A chunk of writers is working as book writers with publishing companies, book reviewers in libraries, course developers in educational concerns, etc. A majority of content writers work within academics such as assisting students in selecting a university, getting admissions, and writing essays, thesis, and assignments, or even work as book review writers for libraries of their Alma mater.
Asking them to write about web design trends and eCommerce platforms may go beyond a general perception. Though, the manager or HR personnel may argue that they are taking a test to judge his or her writing and analysis, which is still unfair as a person cannot form an opinion about a thing or topic he has not heard before. For writers, new in the field, I have elaborated some of the essentials of content writing which can be read in this post

3. Their Writing style may not suit your business

Every business has a style guide. They have decided upon a language, tone, and voice, which a new writer may need time to understand to mold a write-up .
For example, if you are selling apparel or grocery items, the product copies would like to be straight and to the point as the customers are already familiar with their purpose and use. But, when it comes to hiring a writer for a product description of the software, he or she may need to elaborate the benefit, purpose, practicality, and the feature list in a more subtle way.
Within the software and IT industry, there are software products that may not need explanation or educating the end-user about it, but, the candidate is not aware of the approach you have adopted for it, he or she may write with a personal tone and voice that not resemble with what you are looking for.

4. Shortage of time may affect the quality

All the writers have their own pace of creating content. There are authors and novelists who may produce a whole chapter or dramatic scene of 20,000 words in a week, while others may hardly produce a thousand words in a day.
Asking an application to complete a writing test, say 500 words, in one hour may help you judge his command on keyword and paper, but you can not expect quality in that short period of time. There are recruiters, who claim that the test is only to test the language skill, for those, I must say, it is still unfair to put an individual in an exam-like condition and make him rush out for higher marks.
As a result, if the applicant fails to write their desired word count, he or she is rejected straightaway, or if they pass, they are expected to write at least 4000 words a day as they have the capability of producing 500 words an hour.

5. You may need a Subject Matter Expert

The increasing trend of content marketing has grown a massive community of writers who are generalists. Give them any topic and they will start writing on it. Regardless of their education, experience, knowledge, and expertise, they may start with anything unknown to them for the sake of earning money.
The greed of such writers and the ignorance of hiring the right candidate creates troubles for the HR in hiring freelance content writers. The company may need a software documentation expert, but get applications from writers who are working with food bloggers. This is something completely irrelevant.
Here. the companies also need to take their job description into consideration as for them a content writer or article writer is someone who can take up any task. This is not true if you go for the hiring.
First of all, decide your requirements and draft a post with the most appropriate job title, and mention the roles and responsibilities. Even then, if you get resumes from immature writers, reject them giving another thought.

6. English as a Second Language

English is a second language to many when you hunt for writers across the globe. You may find them well versed in formal writings, but they may fail in using slang or describing a brand, celebrity, or local product of Europe or America in an informal language.
So, again, it depends on the way you want to exhibit your brands and products. Like, most of the famous brands dislike the use of words for cheap, low-price, quality, best, that, dedicated, if, but, nothing, etc.
An average writer knows where he lacks in grammar. It may be either vocabulary, confusing words that sound similar in spoken language, incorrect usage of verb, spelling, punctuation, or anything else.
Thus, don’t expect absolute and flawless writing from speakers of English as a second or foreign language, because even the native speakers commit some of the basic mistakes when they pin down their thoughts on a topic.

7. Your Word Processing may have a different Language Version

Usually, the candidate is given access to a workstation to write a blog post or article in MS Word file. It selects US English by default, but if you are seeking a writer who is required to write for the audience from Europe, the writer must be communicated well before he or she starts writing or the default settings must be changed according.
I have been blamed for grammar mistakes when I was giving a test to an Australian based digital marketing agency that preferred to use Australian English that is influenced by UK English.

8. He or she may be a descriptive grammarian

Descriptive grammarians prefer to use the language in a more practical manner rather than following the strict rules prescriptive grammarians are stick to.
With the descriptive approach, a candidate may try to write to make the reader understand the core idea of a title, but you, the marketing head, or the boss may be looking for a copy that is has to follow the grammatical prescriptions regardless of making the content meaningful.
Get to know the basics and let the writer produce something worthy for a consumer to read and understand rather than expecting a masterpiece with flawless grammar. if you still unsure about the difference between the different schools of thought, please refer to post published by Amy Reynolds here

9. He or she may be a print writer

It is a dilemma that most of the beginners apply for writing jobs without knowing either it is of their interest or not. Some of them have written great news stories and opinion based articles for the print, but they fail in a test for web content writer because they write the same long-narrated paragraphs which are not liked web content.
Newspapers and magazines in hard copy still follow the essay-like pattern of content, but for the web content writing short paragraphs, bullet points, headings, subheadings, and lots of other summarizing devices are needed.
Web content is written for someone who will visit the website either on a PC or a smartphone which makes them scan the entire page with a quick view rather than reading every bit of it. If your candidate came from print and media publishing house, he or she may not complete the test in a format relevant and useful to your target audience.

Concluding thoughts

These were some points I have experienced myself when interviewed by different software houses, media outlets, and advertising agencies. The most gruesome fact about hiring content writers is that the interviewers, most of the times, don’t know the type of person they need for their business writings or any specific project.
I have appeared in many interviews where they either needed a scriptwriter or a technical documentation expert, which is contrary to what their HR told me in the interview call. Thus, you need to know the scope and responsibility of a job vacancy you need to fill rather than following the mainstream and usual norms for hiring a writer. In the next post, I will let you what else you need to check while recruiting a writer, besides to a writing test.
A writer and a blogger, and an aspiring entrepreneur :)

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