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Copywriting Apprentice Selection Process (Part 1)

We published a post mid-July looking for a copywriting apprentice. It was a similar post Jeff published almost 1.5 years ago, to which I answered. But this time around, I’m on the other side of the apprenticeship application process. It sometimes still boggles my mind how much things can change in such a short period of time.

Jeff hopes that this new addition to our team will boost our content production and marketing capacity. We need a word smith to fill in the gaps for Jeff. Especially at times when I’ve produced a landing page, email sequence, ad copy, etc and the placeholders needs words.

Jeff has too many things on his plate sometimes. And writing/ proofreading/ editing all those words need concentrated effort. He admits that he ends up being the bottleneck to the process sometimes.

So, I would be working closely with this new copywriting apprentice to produce content and marketing material.

Managing the apprentice selection process is kind of like a managing a CRM system. We keep track of things with a patchwork of tools.

Step 0: The applicant listens to the Tropical MBA episode on apprenticeship and mentorship. We have a specific idea of what an apprenticeship entails, and we want to make sure that applicants go into the process having the same mindset as we do. It’s all about setting expectations.

Step 1: The applicant fills up a form on the webpage. We’ve since taken the form down, so you wouldn’t be able to see it on the page (but here’s a screenshot of it in the backend preview). We built this form with the Gravity Form plugin.


For each of the apprenticeship questions, we set up a value for each answer option to check how well the applicant matches what we’re looking for. We’re checking for mindset type things, but also on areas of experience.


Once the applicant submits the form, s/he will get a percentage score immediately on the page. Two emails (containing the form entries and score) will be fired: one to the applicant, and one to our email address.

1. Sort and file: I’ll go thru the emails in the mailbox and file the applications into our Trello board. We got the idea from Idahosa Ness of the Mimic Method. He wrote a case study in the Dynamic Circle forum on hiring an apprentice.

Idahosa used Trello to organize the candidates, using the lists to note the stage/ status of the applications. Each candidate is represented by a card. The idea is that candidates move thru the selection process from left to right. I’ve adapted it to our process.

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 11.47.45 PM

Here are the lists we used:

  1. Step 1: These are candidates who submitted the form in Step 1. In their card, I’ll have their name, photo, email address, location + time zone, “additional information” field and score. Their photos will be used as the card cover image.
  2. #1 GA filters, #2 Not using UTM, #3 GA account structure, #4 Multi language: For Step 2 assignment, I used 4 separate lists to denote which candidate was sent which topic to work on.
  3. Dropped out: Jeff estimated (from experience) that at least half will drop out after seeing the amount of work in Step 2 of the selection process. True enough, more than half did not submit. Some would write in to withdraw their applications.
  4. No submission: Those who did not respond to the Step 2 assignment will be put into this list.
  5. Submitted Step 2: Those who did submit Step 2 assignment will be put into this list.
  6. Scheduled Call with Jeff: We eliminated some candidates after looking at their assignment submission, and the rest are sent an interview invitation.

2. Send Step 2 assignment: After the deadline (July 24), we prepared an assignment. The assignment consists of 4 parts: blog post, sales page, ad copy, and email sequence. These tasks are very similar to what the apprentice will be working on if they were to join our team.

Part 1 is to draft a blog post. We’ve prepared 4 topics: GA filters, Not using UTM, GA account structure, multiple language. The pool of candidates is divided into 4 groups, each with a separate topic.

Part 2-4 are the same across the board. Everyone got the same tasks.

We ended up giving everyone who have applied (regardless of their score) another shot. So everyone received the Step 2 assignment.

3. Wait: We gave the candidates roughly 2 weeks to complete Step 2 assignment.

4. Grade the assignment: I made a Google spreadsheet to keep track of the feedback and grades.

Screen Shot 2017-08-13 at 12.27.03 AM

Each of the 4 parts will be graded on a scale of 1-10. Both Jeff and I graded each candidate’s work separately.

[(Gaorii’s Score + Jeff’s Score) + Step 1 Score] / 180 = Final Score

5. Eliminate: After grading their work, those that didn’t make the cut will be eliminated. Jeff sent them an email with feedback on their work.

6. Schedule interview: Those that did make the cut will be invited for an interview with Jeff. We used Acuity Scheduling to schedule interview time slots and ask them questions. Again, we’re setting expectations.

schedule interview

That’s all that has happened up till the time of writing of this post. I’ll update it once we’ve move forward in the process.

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