The Task at Hand – How to approach the task stage of the interview process if you work in content.
When it comes to the world of content the proof really is in the pudding. I will always recommend that prospective employers set a task because it gives candidate’s a time to shine. In the world of content, the task is an interview stage in its own right.
Why have they set you the task?
A CV will only get you so far, think of a task as a fabulous introduction. A first stage interview is the time to let a company get to know you more and to see if you are a good fit for each other. Your experience and personality should be what shines through. The task will give you the opportunity to show off your skills. What is your voice? Will you fit in with their writing style? Can you cover the subject matter that the role requires? How do you work to deadlines? How well do you interpret information? Ultimately, what are you going to bring to the role?
How much time should you spend on it?
Let’s be honest, how long is a piece of string. Obviously, you want to complete the task to the best of your ability but your ability to produce content within specified deadlines is one of the main reasons a task is set. Some employers don’t give a deadline because they want to see how quickly you complete the task off your own back. It is important to bear in mind if you are expected to complete a task after your first interview you will need to give yourself adequate time to do so. Unfortunately,” I have had a really busy week so could you give me a bit more time” just isn’t going to cut it when other candidates are getting the job done. Most employers are very clear with their deadlines but be proactive and ask.
What kind of tasks will be set?
This entirely depends on the role. Here are a few examples, you may be asked to complete one or more of these.
A simple editing task.
Editing articles using tracked changes/markup.
A 400-word news story on a relevant subject matter.
A pitch for a long-form article.
Write a traditional news story headline and stand first/sell on top of the story.
500 words and make it interesting.
Write a blog with appropriate hashtags.
Write three feature pitches.
Write a news story based on a given press release.
What are they looking for?
This question should always be at the forefront of your mind. If you don’t know why they have set the task, then how do you know what to do? This is role dependent. They most definitely need to see you know your audience, B2B or B2C. That you can work within the house style, or to see if you are ready to create that style. That you will bring your own point of view and have ideas ready to pitch.
How important is a task?
To put it bluntly, if you can’t complete the task to the standard they are looking for then you simply aren’t going to get the role. But don’t panic just yet. How you take feedback and constructive criticism can turn it all around. This is especially important if you are a junior candidate. Employers are aware junior candidates might need some training; they are investing in your potential so if they feel they can work with you, the job could be yours. If you’re a Senior candidate, they would want to know that you can take that constructive criticism and can adapt. Always remember it isn’t personal. They want you to be the best candidate they have ever seen. They want to hire you on the spot! Ultimately, they want to fill the role and you could be exactly what they need to make their life a whole lot easier – so show them what you can do!
Whether you want to discuss different types of tasks or you would like to show our recruiters how your content task is coming along, we would be happy to help.
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