Every business that creates written content needs a team of editors to polish its work. Publishing content with grammatical or spelling mistakes can be expensive; it can ruin your reputation as a subject matter expert and cost you more money. So, you want to hire an editor you can rely on to produce high-quality work.
It may be tempting to forgo the editor and instead have someone who is good at English check your content before you publish it. However, editing is a specific skill that entails much more than checking for misspelled words, and getting it wrong puts your reputation and budget at risk, neither of which you want. So, to save yourself a lot of trouble, hire an editor. But how do you do this? Here are our tips for interviewing editors for your team.
A quick note: While formally interviewing a freelance editor is uncommon, you’ll probably want all this information. So, unless otherwise stated, when we say “editor” in this blog, we mean both salaried and freelance editors.
Before you do anything else, you must decide whether you want to hire an editor who’ll join your content team or if a freelance editor would better suit your needs. Each has advantages and disadvantages.
You have more control over pricing and timeframes if you hire a salaried editor. But salaried employees offer less flexibility and can be expensive. For example, suppose you’re creating less content for whatever reason; you must still pay their salary. If you hire a freelance editor, you can pause business relations when you don’t need their services and resume them when you do. However, keep in mind that a freelance editor may be working on other projects and may not be immediately available, whereas a salaried editor would be immediately available because they only work for you. These are the factors you must consider before interviewing potential candidates.
Next, you must create an ad that includes salary or pay, hours (if applicable), the location of the office (if you want your editor to work on-site), the type of content you produce, a job description, and a description of any qualifications or experience required.
Once you’re happy with your ad, you’ll need to post it to a job site. The most popular sites are Indeed, Glassdoor, Monster, and Reed, but there are plenty of other places you can utilize to source candidates.
These sites will give you many candidates to choose from – probably more than you can interview – so you’ll need to decide how to narrow down your pool. Most of the sites we mentioned above allow the hiring manager to set parameters, such as the number of years of experience, and filter out applicants who don’t meet the requirements. This can be useful to narrow the numbers down, but also know that years of experience don’t always correlate with skill, and you might miss a great editor who doesn’t match arbitrary criteria.
Another way to narrow your search is to look at their experience, specifically, if they’ve edited the type of content you’re producing. Do you need the services of an SEO expert? Or do you need someone with expertise in a specific field? If so, you can target people with relevant experience.
Hopefully, you now have a shorter list of candidates to interview. But what do you do next?
If you’ve followed the steps above, you should already have a good idea of your candidates’ experiences based on their resumes. But now that they’re in front of you (either in person or virtually), you can learn about their experience, qualifications, and what they believe they can bring to the role. This is your chance to ensure that they’re the right fit because you don’t want to hire someone who doesn’t embody your company’s ethos or who won’t work well within the team, only to have to fire them and restart the process.
If you want to be thorough, ask the candidate to prepare a proposal of what they can offer before coming to the interview. This will be a time-consuming process, but it’ll be less time-consuming than going through multiple rounds of interviews.
You will undoubtedly want editors to begin working immediately so that you can continue producing high-quality content on time. So, you’ll want to establish their reliability, punctuality, work ethic, and consistency because otherwise, you may run into issues. This is especially important if you’re hiring a freelance editor or will allow remote working because you won’t be able to monitor their progress. You don’t want to be concerned about whether your editor will deliver the content on time and to a high standard. We’re sure you don’t need the added stress.
Be careful about how you learn about these issues because no one, not even in an interview, wants to be questioned about their skills and abilities. Indeed has a list of questions that you can choose from when interviewing candidates, which will help you establish the type of editor each candidate is.
You could make part of the interview process a trial. Create a piece of writing with multiple grammatical or spelling errors and ask the candidate to edit the document as they normally would. This will allow you to test candidates’ skills in a more practical way. Don’t make this test too long unless you’re willing to pay for the candidates’ time, but if it is too short, you won’t get a good idea of their skills. Between 1,000 and 2,000 words is usually enough.
While you can have a master copy of this test that covers the proofreading mistakes, you’ll also have to consider the less quantifiable edits. Do they improve clarity and flow? This is why we said editing is much more than just checking that a piece of writing is accurate.
So far, we’ve covered steps relevant to salaried and freelance editors, but there are a few more things to consider if you decide to hire freelancers, which we’ll discuss below.
Because you won’t be paying freelance editors a salary but rather on a piece-by-piece basis, you’ll need to have a budget in mind. Most freelancers will have set rates, but they may be willing to negotiate. Some editors will charge more than others; for example, technical and medical editors typically charge more than academic editors, so keep this in mind. You can check with the Editorial Freelancers Association for standard industry rates.
It’s best to discuss pay with a range in mind. You might decide you’re willing to pay more for a particular editor, and that’s fine as long as you and the editor are comfortable with the arrangement.
Because freelancers don’t always work traditional office hours, you must determine how much work they can handle. Asking them is the best way to do this. Experienced editors will know how many words they can edit per hour. You could ask them for their availability weekly or monthly.
Alternatively, you could create a list of content that must be edited with information about the word counts and deadlines. Then your editor can accept the work they feel they can complete appropriately. You might run into problems doing it this way if your editor decides they can’t take on any work at a given time, so it might be best to hire several freelancers to ensure you’re covered.
Whatever you decide, you’ll need a way to establish availability week by week so that your content pipeline flows smoothly.
You may need to hire a few freelance editors to ensure one is available when you need them. So, why not hire an editing agency like Proofed? An editing agency will have a team of staff (editors and operations teams) who can collaborate to ensure your content is edited well and meets your deadlines. With multiple editors working on the same contract, you won’t have to worry about how you’ll edit your content when one of them is unavailable because there are other editors willing and able to pick up the slack, allowing you to focus on your marketing efforts.
If you create written content, you’ll need an editor to check your work for potential issues. Failure to professionally edit your content risks your reputation and your bottom line. But this means you must hire an editor, either on a salary or freelance basis, and interviewing suitable candidates can be a challenging process. This blog provided steps you can take before, during, and after an interview, with a few extra tips on hiring freelancers that you can use to find the perfect editor for your business needs.
Does the interview process sound too stressful? Why not skip it and go straight to hiring an agency? We create a team of editors trained on your style guide to polish your content. We already have a system to verify our editors’ ability, reliability, and availability, leaving you free to create content. When you’re ready to see how Proofed can help you, schedule a call.
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