The process took 1 week - interviewed at Groupon in December 2010.
Interview Details – I submitted a sample online and was contacted about a week later, with the recruiter telling me that only 3% of applicants are selected to write a follow-up sample. I was asked to watch a video on the Groupon voice and style and given a second assignment. The recruiter critiqued it and gave me another assignment, after which I was given yet another assignment. If you're counting that's the initial submission plus 3 additional write-ups. I asked how many assignments are usually given and was told between 3 and 5 and that I was right on track and doing a good job of implementing the critiques and improving with each sample. Being one of the funniest people I know and a writer to boot, I bought a new interview outfit, sure that I would be called in for a face-to-face. The next time the recruiter called, however, I was told simply that after speaking with the hiring department, they had decided to go with someone who more closely fit their needs. End of explanation. I was so taken aback that I couldn't even ask for clarification because I was afraid that it would come out as less than ladylike. Anyhow, the real dagger is reading the crap that their writers churn out day after day. Some of it doesn't even make sense and it is laden with violations to the "rules of Groupon voice." I thought it would be a cool place to work but I guess I dodged a bullet. Humor is subjective and being told what is and isn't witty would, I suspect, get old after awhile.
Interview Question – Why do you want to work at Groupon? Answer Question
I applied online and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at Groupon in June 2011.
Interview Details – I originally applied in April. After a short phone interview, they asked me to come to Groupon academy in May. Academy wasn't until June. After academy, they would email me a sample write-up, I would submit it. Then they would call with feedback. I did the maximum of four write-ups. After the 4th, they asked me to come in for a face-to-face interview, which I did. My references were contacted immediately after the interview. A few days later, they called to say they went with another candidate who was a "better fit".
Interview Question – What was your favorite humor moment that you wrote? Answer Question
I applied online and the process took 3 weeks - interviewed at Groupon in May 2011.
Interview Details – After reading the reviews about staff writer interviews at Groupon, I was worried. After my experience, however, I realized that I shouldn't have been as nervous as I was.
About a month after I applied online for the position, I received an e-mail inviation to Groupon Academy. When I got there, I was one of about 35-40 people. They told us that we made it through the hundreds of others who applied. They gave us a presentation about how to write in the Groupon Voice and then we broke up into small groups to receive feedback on the writing samples we submitted as part of the online application.
The next step in the process was another writing sample. After completing this sample, I received a phone call from a recruiter who gave me feedback and asked for another sample. I would receive a new sample every few days, eventually completing four. I'm not sure how many other people were asked to complete.
After my fourth sample, I was asked to go in for a face-to-face interview. I met with the person who had been giving me feedback and she asked me a few personality-type questions and told me more about the position. Then an editor came in and gave me feedback on my latest sample and asked me a few more questions. I couldn't tell right away from his feedback if he felt like I was hirable since he said some good things and a lot of areas that needed improvement. I then gave them my 3 references and they told me I would hear back within two days. I know that they contacted at least one of my references.The whole interview took about an hour.
I heard back by the date they gave me and they gave me an offer which I accepted. I feel like I shouldn't have worried as much as I did because everyone was helpful and the process was straightforward.
Interview Question – What was the most important thing you learned from the feedback given on your samples? Answer Question
Negotiation Details – The offer was firm.
I applied online and the process took 3 weeks - interviewed at Groupon in January 2011.
Interview Details – Despite the extensive interview process, this was a refreshing and educational experience. Based on some of the other reviews, I originally had my doubts about what I was undertaking, but as I turned in each sample, the feedback given was encouraging and provided concrete steps for improvement. Unlike other reviewers, I had no trouble grasping Groupon voice after a few samples and watching the Groupon Academy video (I am not from Chicago), which clearly outlined the process. If you follow the listed steps, you will at least achieve the format.
The recruiter that contacted me was professional, intelligent, and offered helpful advice. Additionally, each sample was critiqued promptly the next day. I completed 3 samples before I had a phone interview, and had one followup sample before I was offered a job, which I accepted.
Overall, as long as you follow their instructions and take their critique seriously then you will come out with a positive experience.
Interview Question – Why are you interested in writing? Answer Question
I applied online and the process took 3 weeks - interviewed at Groupon in December 2010.
Interview Details – If you past the first test, by applying online with a writing sample, you'll go to Groupon Academy, which is basically a writer's workshop for the top 25 or so writers out of however many hundreds apply. From then on they begin eliminating people the following days/weeks based on the follow-up samples you produce (you get paid for your work). I made it through about 5-6 samples before they asked me to their office in Chicago. The interview was very laid back, and the people there are very down to earth and friendly. They gave me the run down of the daily grind staff writers go through, and then critiqued my MOST RECENT SAMPLE--this is important b/c they really didn't acknowledge the previous ones. My latest sample was admittedly not my best, which is probably why I wasn't given an offer. But when i think about it, I was putting off writing these samples, so writing 8 every day would have probably made me crazy.
*I still haven't received payment, but I can be patient, I guess.
Overall the process was fairly positive. Yes, the writing style can get old and is very subjective, but I liked everyone I met there. Other reviews mention irritable, pompous people grilling interviewees. That wasn't the case for me.
Interview Question – What's the most important or significant thing you learned from the critiques of your previous write-ups? Answer Question
The process took 5 weeks - interviewed at Groupon in July 2010.
Interview Details – Being screened for a Staff Writer position at Groupon was a lengthy, frustrating, and bizarre experience. I'm sure the process is similar for other positions in Editorial, as all applicants have to deal with the Manager of Editorial Recruiting and Training (hereon referred to as MERT).
I was contacted by MERT via e-mail about a month after applying for the position. His initial e-mail was thoughtful and professional--he provided feedback on the sample I sent in with my application and asked if I'd be willing to write another, which he would pay me $25 for if I mailed him some basic tax paperwork. I mailed in the paperwork and sent him my second sample.
A couple of days later, he sent me a brief e-mail asking if I was available to go over the sample on the phone. I expected that we'd go over my sample and there would be a basic phone interview--that's what happens when a recruiter calls you, right? Not in this case. After he got me on the phone, he immediately started going over my sample before I could manage so much as, "Hello." I listened to his points, which were valid, but then he said, "You know, it really would have been good if you could have mentioned that so-and-so-paper gave this the bla-and-bla award. And you didn't say anything about the fact that so-and-so performer was nominated for a bla-and-bla." (The sample I wrote was for a discounted performance, and he was saying that I had failed to cite the credentials of the performance and the performers.)
"But... I did," I said. "In the second paragraph."
"Oh... right, um, yeah. I guess I didn't see that."
After this awkward bit, he said he wanted me to write another sample. Then he asked if I had any questions. I asked him how many write-ups a Staff Writer was expected to complete per day and another question about work expectations.
He wasn't pleased. "I'd advise you," he barked, "not to ask these types of questions at this stage in the interview process. At this point, these types of questions are very unprofessional."
I had a bad taste in my mouth after that conversation, but I completed my third sample. I thought maybe he was just having a bad day, but I wondered--What was this "application process" he spoke of, and how many more write-ups would I be asked to complete?
I ended up submitting several more samples. I'd wait two or three days after submitting them to receive brief, shorthand e-mails (rarely punctuated or capitalized, by the way) asking if he could call me to go over my latest sample. Sometimes he was friendly and his feedback was helpful, but most of the time he sounded extremely annoyed and cut me off when I'd try to ask questions. There were at least three more occasions when he said something was missing from my write-up that wasn't. If I had more horse sense, I would have paid attention to these red flags, but I kept thinking, "Maybe he's just trying to weed out applicants that can't take editorial heat. And sure, his correspondence is unprofessional, but this guy has a lot on his plate. I should just keep rolling with the punches."
Finally, I was asked to come in for an interview. And you know what? It was a great interview. I met with MERT and the Managing Editor at the same time. All of the questions flowed naturally, and they were both friendly and engaging. I left feeling confident. I was asked to write two more samples, which I completed as soon as possible.
After that, it took two weeks before I found out that I didn't get the job. I will say this--MERT thanked me for the effort I put forth in the process, and I did get paid for all of the samples that I wrote, but that doesn't erase the fact that my experience with Groupon was aggravating and ad-hoc. I know that they're a rapidly growing company, but they shouldn't expect applicants to turn a blind eye to their disorganization and lack of professionalism just because they're understaffed.
In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't get the job. Their in-house writers are expected to produce 8 write-ups per day, and after all of the sample write-ups I did, "Groupon Voice" became utterly nauseating. Despite all of the guidelines given online, their voice is more subjective than anything. Every once in a while I'll crack a smirk at some witty bit in one of their write-ups, but for the most part, their writing comes across as inflated, cutesy, and tired. There are only so many original, "surprising" jokes that can be made about tanning and appetizers before you start beating your readers over the head (or "brain box" as Groupon would say--minus the telltale quotes and parentheses, of course).
I'd advise future applicants to proceed with caution. For those that do apply, don't expect any transparency or straightforwardness along the way.
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