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6 Things to Know Before Interviewing for a Content Marketing Job

For many these days, crafting marketing is a paycheck that keeps the writer’s keys a-clicking. Suffice it to say: the world of content marketing has become a go-to destination for creative types of all stripes.

But what does it take to land a job? First, a heap of talent. Also a dash of tenacity, and a bit of quick-learned know-how when it comes time for your content marketing interview.

And it also takes an acute awareness: Content marketing has become competitive. There are plenty of talented and tenacious writers all shooting for a chance to work on the next blog.

And so, what follows are some secrets of the content-marketing interview. Here is advice that can help you, dear writer, edge out the others and get that paying gig.

1. Understand the Big Picture

What is relevant to an interviewer — and what is relevant to the audience you’d be hired to reach — is not simply a checklist of facts in the form of 500 search-engine optimized words.

Acknowledging this, there should be a larger message and a takeaway when you speak about your writing and how it works.

Joe Chernov, vice president of content marketing at Eloqua, puts it this way: “If someone comes in hawking e-books and info-graphics, I’ll be less interested in hiring them because I’ll get the sense that the person is looking only at the content type, and not necessarily placing it in context of the larger business objective.”

2. Know the History of the Gig

Do your research. Go into the interview with company-specific ideas about what you’d like to write.

Chernov: “If a content marketing job seeker wants to grab my attention, he should offer up a candid analysis of what we are doing well in content marketing, what hasn’t appeared to work, where we could improve, and what types of content (whether topics, formats or media channels) we should begin employing.”

If you really know your stuff, says Chernov, take a risk: “Be frank. Be honest. Be direct. I can take it.”

3. Vernacular Talks (Jargon Walks)

Content marketers typically don’t want material that is burdened by an overabundance of technical jargon, but they do want you to have an idea or two about tackling the acronyms and terms of industry that apply.

For example, if you’re talking to a sales-oriented potential CM employer: know your ROIs (returns on investment). Bone up on the meaning of conversions: when an ad click leads to a sale or registration. Indicate this kind of knowledge in subtle ways (don’t flog it!) throughout the answers that you give.

Michele Linn, content development director at the Content Marketing Institute said, “We look for people who have experience with content marketing so they can talk intelligently about the industry.”

4. Be Able to Talk About Your SEO Strategy

A serious interviewer will probably put you on point about search-engine optimization.

Demonstrate that you not only understand what it is, in theory, but also outline some of your research tactics and what you do about placement and density of terms. Refer to a variety of pieces that you’ve done.

5. Know About SEO Testing

If an interviewer is looking for the threshold, the place where a topnotch candidate and one that’s not ready for the job just might begin to diverge, one question that comes up can cover split or multivariate testing.

Essentially, what they’re talking about are the ways that individual pages of online content are examined to see what it is that a visitor ultimately does. If you know that an earlier client has done this with your work, bring what you have of the results and be prepared to talk about them in response.

6. Cater and Contextualize Your Clips

Be certain your portfolio is fresh and make sure that you cater it to the company in question. If the job is in the sector of mobile phone apps, clips about travel and design alone are not going to do the trick.

On the other hand, if you sincerely believe certain lateral examples make a good case for you, offer them in context with your primarily relevant work: “I write well across a variety of topics, but I’m particularly happy with the voice that I struck in these one or two situations.”

It all comes down to telling stories in compelling ways, and as CMI’s Linn said, the best content writing candidates are accomplished storytellers.

“Of course, we look for people who are great with words,” Linn said. “This includes having a solid understanding of basic grammar, but even more importantly we want someone who can tell a story in a logical and entertaining way.”

So, whether you’re bound for your first — or fifth — sit-down with the folks who handle the content production of content marketing, take these interview ideas might make the difference between a polite thank-you e-mail and your next content-writing job.

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