Speech Writer Interview Questions: A Comprehensive Guide to Landing Your Dream Job

At the end of 2014, Asra Najam quit her job as a paralegal to work as an unpaid speechwriter for Vice President Biden. She fell in love with the field—and the rest is history. Over the years, she has done everything from writing letters for President Obama to giving speeches for Obama Foundation executives.

She now works for Fenway Strategies, a company started by Jon Favreau, who used to be Obama’s head speechwriter. The company does speechwriting and communications.

Hayat talked to the writer who was born in Pakistan, raised in Michigan, and now lives in Chicago about following her dream of writing, working as a writer in the Obama White House, and other things.

So, you’re aiming to become a speech writer? Well, get ready to dive deep into the world of rhetoric, audience engagement, and crafting compelling narratives that inspire, persuade, and inform. But before you step onto the podium, you’ll need to ace that all-important interview.

Fret not aspiring wordsmith! This comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge and insights you need to navigate the interview process with confidence. We’ll delve into the most common speech writer interview questions, providing insightful answers and practical tips to help you showcase your skills and land your dream job.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can you describe your process for developing a compelling speech?

Crafting a captivating speech is an art form, and it all starts with a well-defined process. Here’s how I approach it

  • Understanding the audience: Knowing who you’re writing for is paramount. I delve into their interests, values, and expectations to ensure the message resonates deeply.
  • Defining clear objectives: What should the audience think, feel, or do after listening? Identifying these goals guides the entire writing process.
  • Creating a strong structure: A compelling speech has a clear beginning, middle, and end. The introduction grabs attention, the body delivers key messages with supporting evidence, and the conclusion reinforces the main points.
  • Storytelling: Weaving narratives into the speech makes it engaging and memorable. I use anecdotes, metaphors, and rhetorical questions to connect with the audience on an emotional level.
  • Revision and practice: I revise and practice the speech multiple times to ensure it flows naturally and hits all the right notes.

2. What methods do you use to understand the speaker’s voice and style?

How well a speechwriter does depends on how well they can capture the speaker’s unique voice and style. Here’s how I achieve this:

  • Active listening: I pay close attention to the speaker’s choice of words, tone, pace, and body language during conversations or speeches. This helps me grasp their communication style.
  • Thorough research: I delve into the speaker’s background, values, and key messages they want to convey. This research provides a deeper understanding of their persona.
  • Multiple drafts and feedback: I write multiple drafts and seek feedback from the speaker to ensure the speech accurately reflects their voice and style. This iterative process refines my understanding and representation of their persona.

3, How do you ensure that the speech is tailored to the target audience?

Understanding the target audience is crucial for crafting a speech that resonates Here’s how I tailor my approach

  • Audience research: I research the audience’s demographics, interests, and values to ensure the language, tone, and content resonate with them.
  • Context awareness: I consider the context of the speech, whether it’s a formal event or an informal gathering. The setting influences how the message should be delivered.
  • Collaboration with the speaker: I work closely with the speaker to ensure the speech aligns with their style and comfort level. This collaboration ensures the speech appeals to both the audience and the person delivering it.

4. Could you give an example of a tough speech you had to write and how you handled it?

Speechwriters often tackle complex or sensitive topics. Here’s an example of how I handled such a challenge:


One challenging speech I wrote was for a client addressing an audience with diverse political views. The aim was to unify them around a common cause without alienating any side.

To manage this, I meticulously researched the viewpoints of each group to understand their concerns and values. Then, I crafted a message that acknowledged these differences but highlighted shared goals and aspirations.

The result was a balanced speech that resonated with everyone present. It demonstrated the power of words in bridging divides and fostering understanding.

5. How do you handle tight deadlines and high-pressure situations?

Speechwriting often involves tight deadlines and high-pressure situations. Here’s how I maintain composure and deliver quality work under such circumstances:

  • Prioritization: I prioritize tasks based on their urgency and importance to manage my time effectively and meet deadlines without compromising quality.
  • Clear brief: Understanding the speaker’s style and message early in the process helps avoid last-minute changes.
  • Open communication: Maintaining open communication with all parties involved manages expectations and mitigates stress. It also enables quick resolution of any issues that may arise.
  • Efficient time management: I employ efficient time management techniques to ensure timely delivery of high-quality work.

6. What strategies do you employ to make a speech engaging and memorable?

An engaging and memorable speech is more than just an assembly of facts; it’s a compelling story that moves the audience. Here’s how I achieve this:

  • Audience understanding: I tailor the content to the audience’s interests and knowledge level. Using relatable examples or anecdotes makes the message more impactful.
  • Clear structure: A well-structured speech with a clear beginning, middle, and end aids in maintaining listener engagement.
  • Rhetorical devices: Incorporating rhetorical devices like repetition for emphasis, metaphors for clarity, and pauses for dramatic effect can significantly enhance memorability.

7. Can you discuss an instance where you had to revise a speech based on feedback?

Crafting a compelling speech is an iterative process. Here’s an example of how I incorporated feedback to improve a speech:


In one instance, I drafted a keynote speech for a non-profit organization’s annual gala. After initial feedback from the team, it was clear that my approach was too formal and didn’t capture their casual, community-focused tone.

I revised the speech to incorporate more personal stories, lighter language, and interactive elements like audience questions. This made it resonate better with the audience while still delivering the intended message. The final product was well-received, demonstrating the importance of flexibility and responsiveness in speech writing.

8. What is your approach to incorporating data or research findings into a speech?

Data and research findings can strengthen a speech’s credibility and provide informative support for the speaker’s arguments. Here’s how I integrate data effectively:

  • Identify the key message: I start by identifying the speech’s key message and then find relevant data that supports it.
  • Engaging presentation: I present complex data in an engaging way, using storytelling techniques or visual aids to make it more digestible.
  • Proper citation: I ensure proper citation of sources to maintain transparency and trustworthiness.
  • Audience awareness: I consider the audience’s knowledge level and interest when presenting data. Overloading the speech with technical jargon or irrelevant statistics could lose their attention.

9. How do you adapt your writing style to match different speakers and contexts?

A versatile speechwriter can adapt their style to suit different speakers and contexts. Here’s how I approach this:

  • Thorough research: I research the speaker, their values, tone of communication, and audience expectations to understand their unique voice.
  • Context consideration: I consider factors like formality level, purpose of speech, and cultural nuances for different contexts.
  • Collaboration with the speaker: I collaborate with the speaker to ensure the speech aligns with their voice and style. This includes getting feedback on drafts and incorporating it into revisions.

10. What tools or software do you often use in your speech writing process?

Speechwriting involves more than just creativity and a knack for words. Here are some tools that enhance my writing process:

  • Google Docs: I primarily use Google Docs for writing and editing due to its real-time collaboration feature.
  • Academic databases and industry-specific resources: I rely on these resources for research.
  • Grammarly: This tool helps me check grammar and improve the readability of the speech.
  • Teleprompter apps: I utilize these apps to ensure a smooth delivery.
  • PowerPoint: I use PowerPoint for visual aids if necessary.

11. How do you handle writer’s block or creative stagnation?

Writer’s block can be a challenge, but here’s how I overcome it:

  • Immersion in related content: Reading speeches from diverse fields or watching TED talks can stimulate creativity.
  • Brainstorming: I brainstorm ideas without censoring myself, often leading to unique angles.
  • Physical activity: Walking or yoga clears my mind, allowing fresh ideas to surface.
  • Setting aside the task: Taking a break enables me to return with renewed energy and perspective.

12. How do you ensure that the speech aligns with the speaker’s goals and objectives?

Aligning the speech with the speaker’s goals is crucial. Here’s how I achieve this:

  • In-depth conversation: I initiate an in-depth conversation with the speaker to understand their vision, key messages, target audience, desired tone, and overall objective.
  • Regular feedback sessions: I conduct regular feedback sessions to refine the content until it perfectly resonates with the speaker’s intent.
  • Practice runs: I practice the speech with the speaker to identify areas of discomfort or disconnect, which can be revised for better delivery.

13. Can you share an example of a speech you wrote that received significant positive feedback?

Here’s an example of a speech that received positive feedback:


One of my most well-received speeches was for a non-profit organization’s annual fundraising event. The speech aimed

Speechwriter interview questions

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