Sample proofreader job description and interview questions

Hiring a Proofreader is a great idea for businesses that publish a lot of written materials. You want to publish polished, error-free copy that will represent your business well to readers and potential customers. Since even the best writers make the occasional typo, having someone proofread work before it is published or sent out is important.

If your business is currently in need of a skilled Proofreader, keep reading to explore a sample Proofreader job description template that you can customize for your Proofreader job posting. We’ve also provided some sample interview questions to aid you in the hiring process.

What is a Proofreader?

The primary objective of the role is to ensure that all written materials are published without any errors.

A Proofreader is in charge of reading through copy to identify typos, punctuation errors, and grammatical errors. They also often conduct fact-checking and make suggestions to improve the readability of the copy. Many Proofreaders also help with formatting copy for publication.

Proofreaders can work in a variety of industries and proofread a wide range of content. Some Proofreaders work for publishing houses and focus on proofreading books. Others work in corporate roles proofreading content for the company’s blog, press releases, social media pages, website, and other publications.

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Proofreader job description template

Overview

The Proofreader will read printed material, checking for composition, grammatical, and typographical errors. This individual would also read to ensure content accuracy and conduct fact-checking as needed. Duties will include checking revised proof against copy to ensure all corrections were made and making approved revisions if they haven’t yet been made. They also measure dimensions, spacing, and positioning of copy and illustrations to make sure that they conform to set specifications.

Job Responsibilities

  • Reads proof against copy, detecting and marking any errors using a standardized code.

  • Ensures that copy is written and formatted in accordance with the company’s style guide.

  • Checks revised proof against copy to ensure corrections were made.

  • Measures dimensions, spacing, and positioning of copy and illustrations, verifying conformance to specifications.

  • Collaborates with copywriters and copy editors as needed to create an error-free finished product.

Qualifications

  • An associate’s degree in English or a related field is required. Bachelor’s degree preferred.

  • 1-2 years of experience in a related role

  • Excellent spelling and grammar skills

  • Ability to meet tight deadlines

  • Strong computer skills

  • Familiarity with the Chicago manual of style guidelines

Proofreader interview questions

Here are some helpful questions to ask when interviewing candidates for a Proofreader role.

proofreader-jobdescription-450x350pxWhat types of material are you accustomed to proofreading?

Proofreaders work on a wide array of written materials. Today, many proofreaders work to prepare content for publication online in the form of articles, website copy, blogs, or social media posts. However, there are also some proofreaders who specialize in long-form content such as books. They may also be proofreading content with different objectives which can impact how they edit for clarity or tone.

Due to the wide array of content that can be proofread, it is helpful to know what the candidate has primarily proofread in the past to understand whether that aligns with your company’s proofreading needs. You can definitely still consider candidates with different forms of proofreading experience, but it is a good idea to learn more about candidates’ past experiences and evaluate how transferable they will be.

What is your proofreading process?

Understanding how proofreader works can provide great insight into their thoroughness. Many proofreaders read through the text once or twice before marking any suggested corrections so that they can get an overview of the piece and fully understand the context of specific sections that they are editing. Many also do the first round of edits for basic spelling and grammar before moving on to editing for clarity or readability. They typically do a final proofread after making correction suggestions to proofread their own work and make sure that the corrections flow properly.

There is no singular perfect process, but their individual process should display that the candidate is meticulous and has some well thought strategy.

It’s also worth noting that many editors and proofreaders use digital tools like Grammarly as part of their process now. That’s generally alright as long as it is not their entire process. Tools like this can be helpful for finding small, easily overlooked errors such as putting a comma in the wrong place. However, the Proofreader should be using this as one small step — usually,after they’ve already read the piece as a starting point for quick edits or after they’re done editing to double-check that they didn’t miss anything.

This is because these tools won’t know the company’s style guide or the intended tone and purpose of the writing like the Proofreader will. For example, Grammarly will typically flag frequent use of a word or phrase in text as repetitive, but the Proofreader may know that it is necessary for SEO purposes or for the clarity of the copy.

What makes you an effective Proofreader?

This question gives the candidate an opportunity to touch on specific skills that make them an excellent fit for the role. What skills could they bring to your company if hired? Are they great at time management or incredibly thorough in their work? Ideally, the candidate will highlight how they’ve excelled in past roles due to the specific skills that they mention.

How do you balance the need for accuracy vs. efficiency when proofreading?

When people rush, mistakes are bound to happen, and some small typos or errors may be missed. Balancing the need to work quickly to meet deadlines while also needing to work thoroughly so that nothing falls through the cracks is one of the most challenging aspects of a Proofreader role. When evaluating a candidate’s response to this question, you should be listening for a couple of things.

The first thing to listen for is their time management skills. A candidate that manages their time well and knows how to prioritize tasks effectively may mention that they are careful to allocate enough time to each project so that they can meet deadlines without feeling rushed. They may mention their skills when it comes to planning their time and prioritizing assignments properly to support this.

You may also gain some insight into the candidate’s communication skills. An experience Proofreader will likely have learned to be proactive in communicating when they receive a deadline that isn’t practical. Listen for how they communicate with their team to make sure they can get extra time or support in order to get the work done without compromising quality.

Often in corporate roles, colleagues in other departments may put in immediate last-minute requests to “just look over something quickly” without understanding that proper proofreading requires time and focus. A Proofreader will need to be able to communicate that.

Lastly, you’ll want to take a big-picture look at their answer to make sure that you’re choosing a candidate that is efficient but won’t compromise on quality. You don’t want to publish something full of errors. If a candidate is giving unrealistic turnaround times for proofreading, they may be inexperienced or just telling you what they think you want to hear.

What computer tools are you familiar with?

This question should be adjusted to focus on the type of tools that your company expects the Proofreader to use in their role. Often word processing software such as Microsoft or Google Docs is used. Sometimes proofreaders help with formatting in Adobe Acrobat for PDFs, WordPress for web content, etc.

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