Writing Sample in the Interview

Career Blog Jill-Klees

I was asked a great question that I wanted to share.

Q: I have an interview for a position of Lead Library Assistant at a community college. When scheduling the interview, I was told that a 15 minute writing sample would be part of the process. Other than typing and data entry tests, I’m not familiar with this for a library position. Do you have any ideas on what I can expect or how I can best prepare?

A: I have not heard of this taking place as a common practice but in doing a bit of research it is more common in academic and law settings. Here are some overall general tips and guidelines to consider:

  • You will most likely be asked to write about something that relates to the position, so it may help to start thinking about possible topics that you are familiar with.
  • Typically the employer wants to see how you can quickly organize and express your thoughts in a concise manner.
  • The employer may also want to see how you write under pressure.
  • In researching the topic, I found that there are no specific hard and fast rules on writing samples in an interview so it will really depend on the employer’s specific instructions.
  • Be prepared to write with pen and paper if need be but most likely you will be able to use a computer. Both have issues from writing in a legible manner to getting comfortable quickly with a new computer configuration.
  • Perhaps bring a pen and paper just in case to show you are prepared.
  • Be sure to put your name on the writing sample in case it gets separated from your file.
  • Don’t try to be overly clever with your writing.
  • Keep it easy to read.
  • It should demonstrate a clear, concise, and coherent thought process.
  • Absolutely ensure there are no spelling errors, that it is free of typographical errors and that it is grammatically correct.
  • Be sure to provide enough information for the person to accurately judge the quality of your writing.

Best of luck!

I would really like to hear from those of you who have feedback or personal experiences to share about this topic. Please add your comments.