At one time or another, every job interview will bring up the subject of writing samples. Some companies will even ask for writing samples right off the bat, while others may ask for some follow-up correspondence or even a couple of samples to choose from. Whether you’re applying for a job as a bank teller or a business analyst, here’s what you need to know!
Why Do They Want to See Your Writing Samples?
First off, let’s examine why the employer might want to see your writing samples. There are generally three reasons a company would want to see your writing samples: 1) To determine your level of creative thinking; 2) To see how you write your emails; and 3) To get a sense of your communication skills.
Obviously, they would not want to see samples that are poorly written or poorly presented. For the most part though, employers are more interested in how you present yourself rather than what you say. In other words, they want to know how you write so they can judge how you’ll write their report.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, writing is a job that does not require a specific amount of education. Instead, as long as you can sign your name, you can apply for a job as a writer!
How Do I Hand Out My Writing Samples?
So now that you know why companies are asking for your writing samples, let’s discuss how you should respond when they ask for them. In short, you need to make sure that your writing is representative of your skills and that you have not done anything deceptive or fraudulent. When they ask you for samples, simply hand them out and make sure that they are good enough to be presented to a prospective employer.
If they ask for an outline of the paper, then simply hand them out and make sure that they are complete. When they ask for a specific part, then simply hand them out and make sure that they are the appropriate length. Essentially, make sure that they contain everything that would make the employer interested in your application.
Common Scenarios And How to Answer Them
Now, let’s discuss some more common scenarios that may arise when an employer asks for your writing samples and how you should answer them. So, you get a call from the HR department, telling you that you’ve been selected for an interview with the hiring manager. When the day of the interview arrives, you arrive at the office and are promptly greeted by the HR manager who then takes you to the interview.
As you enter the office of the hiring manager, you see a long table with pens, paper and a laptop. You are not exactly sure how to answer the question without looking like you’ve been doing this for a living, so you simply go with your gut and begin writing.
After you’ve written for a while, you realize that you’ve written something rather good and decide to read it over before turning it in.
Unfortunately, you’ve only gotten so far when the HR manager walks in and asks for the piece you’ve been working on.
How should you handle this situation?
It’s a tough situation, but there are a few things that you can do. First of all, make sure that the piece is complete. You did not come up with a four-page paper in the first place, so you need to make sure that what you’ve written is good enough to be presented to the employer. Even if you’ve only written a short story or an essay, make sure that it’s well-crafted and that you’ve presented your opinions successfully.
If you’re still worried about looking like you’ve never written before, then simply ask the HR manager if you can take a break and try out a new pen. (You never know, it might become your favorite and you’ll want to use it every time you write a document for work.)
After you return from your break, read the paper over once again and make sure that you’ve captured the entire essence of what you’d presented to the employer. Then, turn in the paper and go home feeling confident that you did your best.
Answering questions about your work experience is never easy, but if you’re worried about looking too much like a resume, then simply hand out your best work and make sure that they’re good enough to be presented to a prospective employer.