The main reason proposals fail is the wrong approach (73%), so employers will pay extra attention when hiring proposal writers. The way you approach the job reflects how you approach work as a proposal writer.
These are some of the most common proposal writer interview questions an employer might use as an assessment tool when conducting a proposal writer interview. Although every company has a unique interview process, they will know how well you communicate the correct information.
An additional helpful tip is to be aware of other candidates. Remember that you’re not the only one aiming for the job. Meaning, you don’t have to be the best, but you have to be better than other candidates. If you’re interested in learning the answers to these interview questions via video, then watch below. Otherwise, skip ahead.
1. How Would You Rate Your Writing Skills?
Employers will usually start the interview process with a similar interview question to get the initial “feel” for you as a writer. The question can also come in the form of your previous experiences as a proposal writer.
More so than with other jobs, proposal writers are in a distinctive position during the job interview. It’s not just what you say, but how you say it. The way you communicate reflects how well you can write. Meaning, employers will not just listen to examples and collect data. They will also listen to how effective you are at communicating the data. You are applying for a position where you need to do precisely that, after all.
No matter if the interviewer asks the interview question in a numeric or a non-numeric form, don’t waste time on scoring your skills on a 1-to-10 scale. Start right away with examples that showcase your effectiveness, writing capabilities, and organization skills (most notably for deadlines).
2. What’s Your Proofreading and Revision Process?
Proposal writers know that it takes more than a single write for a finished proposal. It’s a constant back and forth, and you can expect loads of feedback and additional ideas. Depending on your job position, you might have to decide which feedback is valid and which isn’t.
Often interviewers ask this question to check how good you are with dealing with revisions and how effective you are. Although every proposal runs a cycle, multiple drafts aren’t an excuse for lousy proposal writing.
You need to proofread every draft and make it as close to perfect as possible. Here are some proofreading tips you can mention in the interview and use in your career.
- Take a break between writing and proofreading.
- Start proofreading from the end. This breaks the familiarity and subjectivity.
- Proofread for one error type at a time.
- Use software for grammar correcting (but don’t depend on the application entirely).
- Ask someone to read.
3. How Would You Interview a Subject Matter Expert?
To achieve a competitive advantage over other proposal candidates, you’ll need to gather information for the proposal from multiple sources. Since you’ll rarely have all the data, you’ll need to interview a subject matter expert. Out of different proposal writer interview questions, this one tests your communication skills.
Since you’ll have a limited time with the expert, you need to ask the right interview questions to get the information you need.
You should start every subject matter expert interview by establishing a clear purpose. The purpose isn’t writing a proposal but collecting relevant information depending on the proposal.
To save time, the next step is to establish what you already know. The reason is to save time.
Next, you should always prepare your questions beforehand. That doesn’t mean writing questions that serve as a simple reminder. Instead, the questions you prepare should act as a movie script ready for filming.
Finally, tell the interviewer about your conducting habits. Emphasize “power phrases” you use during interviews, such as “tell me,” “give me an example,” and “show me.”
If you’re interested in ensuring you nail your proposal writer interview, then check out our proposal writing certification course.
4. What’s the Difference Between a Proposal Letter & a Cover Letter?
This can be a trick question since a proposal letter is a proposal. A cover letter is a page-long introduction briefing another business or organization about your company.
Although cover letters aren’t always necessary, they can provide a nice personal touch. Companies reviewing the proposal are busy. Meaning, having a quick introduction saves time and provides a competitive advantage over candidates who don’t create a cover letter.
Keep in mind that different interviewers can mix this question up even between different job seekers. While some will ask the difference between a proposal and a cover letter, others might ask the difference between a cover letter and an executive summary.
If you have experience, proposal writer interview questions like this shouldn’t be difficult. But it’s a quick way for the interviewer to filter out weak candidates quickly.
5. Do You Prefer to Work Independently?
Speaking of trick interview questions. What seems like a simple yes or no question where you’ll answer “yes” you should go into detail with this one.
While every business looks for proactive and independent job candidates, a proposal is rarely a one-person job, especially in companies. Meaning, you should emphasize both your separate responsibilities and your team skills.
Working with multiple proposal writers means that every writer contributes to a specific part. But it also means that you know how to provide and collect feedback. This ties back to your communication skills and collecting data from multiple sources.
Although you shouldn’t spend too much time answering, ensure you leave an impression of both an independent individual and a team player.
6. How Do You Structure a Proposal?
With this interview question, the interviewer wants to assess if you plan your proposals or you jump right into writing.
Naturally, you don’t want to start any proposal job with writing. Proposal writers need to research and collect data. It’s through the research that the idea forms.
So while you’ll spend time answering how you structure a proposal, mention how important research is.
This interview question will also tell the interviewer if you understand how a proposal differs from other documents. For reference, here’s the basic proposal structure.
- Proposal cover
- Executive summary
- Project milestones
- About us
- Case studies
- Terms & conditions
This is also an excellent opportunity for the interviewer to segue into other proposal writer interview questions. They can follow up with questions about budget structuring, solution, or any other proposal element.
7. How Do You Ensure That Your Writing Is Consistent?
One of the biggest dreads of any company is sending an inconsistent proposal. There’s nothing worse than a client reading one piece of information on page one and contradicting information on page four.
Because of that, interviewers want to ensure that they hire a consistent proposal writer. Consistency doesn’t necessarily apply to your writing skills. It has more to do with your ability to organize your work effectively.
Meaning, when asked interview questions like that, you want your answer to describe the healthy habits you likely employ outside work.
Ideally, you want to showcase your research skills since research is the key to consistency. That will tell the interviewer that you check a proposal candidate in detail before writing.
8. How Do You Ensure That You Meet Deadlines?
Speaking of consistency, it’s likely that right after the previous question, the interviewer will slide in a follow-up interview question about deadlines. Proposals are time-sensitive. In the 24-hour window that your submission is late, the candidate might go with another proposition.
As a proposal writer, you need to juggle between quality and speed, and you’re likely to get feedback on both.
Use the same trick as the interviewer, and use your answer as a follow-up to your previous one.
9. How Do You Search & Filter Relevant & Accurate Information?
Research is half (if not more) of the proposal writing job, so the interviewer will want to know your research skills well. A journalism degree can help you stand out amongst other candidates, but past experience isn’t crucial.
This is yet another of the proposal writer interview questions that serve as an assessment tool to determine your ability to organize yourself. The key here is to highlight that you don’t just go with the first piece of information you find, but you double-check.
Since you might hesitate from overdoing your research (especially if you have deadlines hanging over your head), you must win the interviewer over by showcasing your effectiveness. The person asking interview questions might be a proposal writer as well. Meaning they know the process, duties, and hardships of the job. As you talk, focus on the tools you use and the effectiveness of your research.
10. What is the Difference Between Proposal Writing and Technical Writing?
The person interviewing might ask either this or similar interview questions. Instead of comparing it to technical writing, they might ask you the difference between proposal writing and contract negotiation.
Either way, interviewers ask proposal writer interview questions like this one to determine your general knowledge. Although technical writing and proposal writing share many similarities, they are different.
A professional candidate will know the difference, and it’s a direct question that puts you in the corner. If you can’t answer the question, it’s hard to talk your way around.
You don’t have to be a technical writer, but you should have some ideas and describe key differences.
For example, while the key goal for a technical writer is to describe and inform, a proposal writer also needs to persuade the client into taking action.
Let’s say that your company has a special offer for clients who sign up and buy their product. While the technical writer needs to explain how the offer works, a proposal writer needs to focus on why the request is such a significant benefit.
11. What Makes a Bad Proposal Copy?
Unlike the previous proposal writer interview questions, this one is a hybrid that interviewers use as an assessment tool for both your skills and knowledge. Although you shouldn’t have trouble providing a satisfactory answer, you may have to answer how you accomplish the given goal.
It doesn’t take much to say that a bad copy reads generally, is inconsistent, and doesn’t get right to the point. But it’s a different ballpark if you need to describe the process of creating persuading proposals.
To help you plan your answer, here’s a couple of not-so-obvious signs of a bad copy:
- It takes too much time explaining what’s in the proposal instead of getting to the proposal’s essence.
- Your selling points (and focus) shouldn’t be essential requirements. If there are proposal requirements that your company needs to satisfy, be sure to mention them, but don’t put all the weight on something that every qualified candidate needs to do either way.
Provide an Example of You Successfully Sharing a Difficult Piece of Information
Besides putting your story-telling ability to the test, proposal writer interview questions like this also test your effectiveness and past work.
If a candidate has experience writing proposals, they have examples. The question can also be a clever way to determine your other skills, such as creating a presentation or a visual.
If you’re starting your career as a proposal writer, you might not have a clear example, but don’t hesitate to talk about other writing experiences that make you better than other job candidates.
Job interviews are rarely easy, especially when you venture into the great unknown that entails unfamiliar duties, harsher deadlines, and new skills.
Fortunately, by preparing an answer for each of the mentioned proposal writer interview questions, you are one step closer to nailing the interview and getting the job.
If you feel like you’re not ready, a good move is to take a couple of writing classes to give your writing skills the necessary boost. We wish you all the best.
Here you’ll find some of the most common answers to people’s questions about proposal writing.
What makes a good proposal writer?
A good proposal writer is a writer who communicates information clearly and concisely and compels the reader to take immediate action. Proposal writers are essential to any company since the convincing process isn’t easy. Additionally, a good proposal writer has fantastic verbal communication skills, especially when working in a team.
Is proposal writing a good career?
The median proposal writer salary in the U.S. is $67,020 as of 2022. Since the wage for a proposal writer job depends on the working industry, the annual compensation can range from $12,757 to $340,335. As such, proposal writing can be a demanding career to find your place in, but it can also be gratifying.
How to become a proposal writer?
Depending on your writing experience, you might need to take additional courses that help you specialize as a proposal writer. Although you might be a great copywriter, you’ll likely get stuck on several proposal writer interview questions if you lack the knowledge. The best ways to become a proposal writer are courses and joining proposal writer communities.
If you are new to proposal writing and are looking to break-in, we recommend taking our Proposal Writing Certification Course, where you will learn the fundamentals of being a proposal writer and how to write winning proposals.