How to Complete a Written Exercise During an Interview
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 6 November 2022
Published 15 November 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Interview processes often differ depending on the role, industry, and company you're applying for. For some job roles that require writing and language expertise and skills, you may experience a writing test component during your job interview. This is especially often for industries where you often require writing proposals, social media posts, or articles. Knowing what to do during writing tests can help you perform better in your job interviews. In this article, we discuss what a written exercise is, explore some exercises you might experience doing a job interview, and learn how you can ace them.
What is a written exercise during an interview?
A written exercise during an interview is a tool hiring managers may use to assess candidates. Interviewers may use them during the recruitment process, especially in industries where you may be doing regular writing like marketing or public relations. The exercise is like an assessment used during the hiring process to evaluate the potential candidates writing abilities and skills. Each exercise may differ depending on the industry, company, and role you're applying for. Some companies may require an online exercise or comprehension test during the job application process, while some other companies may require a test during the job interview itself.
What are the different types of writing exercises?
Writing exercises may come in different formats, depending on the industry and company you're applying for. Here are some of the common types of exercises you may experience during the hiring process:
Press release exercise
The press release writing exercise is a common exercise you may encounter if you're applying for a job at a marketing or public relations agency. During the recruitment process, an interviewer may ask you to write a press release for a product or service the agency is promoting. This exercise is to evaluate your understanding of the industry and your ability to write a press release correctly. It can be worthwhile to research the press release format and the company's products and services before attending the interview.
The copywriting exercise is very common for aspiring copywriters in marketing firms. These exercises require you to read through a large chunk of text and summarise them into clear and concise information. Companies usually use this exercise to evaluate your copywriting abilities and if you're able to pick out important information from their text. To excel in this exercise, it's important to pay attention to the text to retain the key details in the summary.
Occasionally, companies may ask you to try a proofreading exercise. These exercises may test your editing skills by reading through a large chunk of text to identify spelling or grammatical errors. These tests may be tricky since there are well-hidden and complicated mistakes that you may not spot on the first read. Take your time to read through the text slowly and carefully to catch every single detail.
Essay or report exercise
Consultancy or law firms require a lot of essays and reports daily, so these companies may ask you to write an essay or report based on a current issue in the industry. In occasional cases, the company may give you the question before the interview, but not every company may do so. It's important to note how much time you have to complete the report or essay and ensure that you have a clear introduction, pointers, and conclusion in the essay or report. A well-finished essay tends to have a professional tone and fine detail, compared to an incomplete one with a lot of detail.
Some companies may give you a specific situation with a made-up client and get you to craft a draft email. These scenarios may include a customer complaint that you may require resolving or a challenging client who wants a tight deadline with a low budget. When writing the email, remember to keep it brief and short while professional and courteous. It's also important to read the brief well to fully understand it before writing.
Related: Guide on How to Write an Email
What skills does a writing exercise assess?
Companies often assess specific skills that you may have through writing exercises, aside from just your writing ability and attention to detail. Here are some common skills that an employer may look for during a writing exercise:
Employers use writing exercises to evaluate your comprehension skills. During a writing exercise, they can use it to find out how you respond to a brief. This is a way to find out if you can understand the instructions in the brief and what strategies you use to complete your exercise during the interview. To complete your exercise successfully, it's important to read the brief a few times and choose the right response to meet the brief's ask.
Employers may seek people with strong communication skills in a variety of industries. Written communication is a skill that is very important in many positions and industries, and hiring managers may use writing exercises to find people with these skills. Employers look for people who can communicate with others clearly and concisely, especially through written communication like emails and letters. During your writing exercises, always remember to use clear and concise language while keeping to a professional tone.
Professionalism is also an important trait to have in the workplace. Many hiring managers use writing exercises to evaluate your ability to communicate professionally through writing. When attempting your exercises, ensure that your writing keeps to a professional and courteous tone while choosing an appropriate language for the audience you're writing for.
Attention to detail
Many employers look for candidates with a keen eye for detail, especially in writing. Having good attention to detail helps you to understand what your project requires in the workplace. You can show your attention to detail by reading through the brief well and providing key information in your draft that you've spotted in the brief.
How to succeed when completing a writing exercise
Here are some tips you can follow to complete a writing exercise successfully and effectively during an interview:
1. Stay focused
It's natural to be nervous or anxious during an interview, but it's important to stay calm during the assessment. Keep in mind that companies invite you for an interview since they see the potential in you as a candidate for the job. Trust your own abilities and expertise during the exercise and remain confident. Taking a few deep breaths to calm down can help you perform better and showcase your skills effectively.
2. Keep track of the time limit
Employers usually give you a time limit to complete the exercise. If you know how much time you have for your exercise, try to be mindful of the time and divide it equally between each section of the exercise. This can help you avoid spending too much time on a single section of your exercise and leave you with insufficient time to complete the rest of the exercise.
3. Proofread your work
Since employers look for your attention to detail during a writing exercise, it's important that you avoid any grammatical or spelling mistakes in your assignment. Save some time during your exercise to go through your work and check for any mistakes, awkward sentences, and clarity before submitting. Ensure that your handwriting is clear so that it's easy to read.
Sample questions in writing exercises
The type of writing exercises you may get during the interview varies depending on the role or industry you're applying for. Here are some example writing exercise questions you might encounter during the interview:
Draft an email to an unsatisfied client who has complained about the service he has received in the restaurant.
Write a sample press release for the launch of the new hotel space. The target customers are high flyers who are willing to spend on quality experience and the butler service we provide at the hotel.
Summarise the key pointers of the case file and list its strengths and weaknesses while retaining essential information. There is a word limit of 500 words.
Write a post-campaign report on the launch of the new automatic vacuum cleaner bot. Include the good, bad, and areas that we can improve on.
The model shown is for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.
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