RE: Interviewing writers = writing tests?

Subject: RE: Interviewing writers = writing tests?
From: William Swallow <william -dot- swallow -at- aptissoftware -dot- com>
To: "'TECHWR-L'" <TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 4 Feb 2000 09:23:35 -0500

I find writing tests to be helpful--but I never require them until the
second (read last) interview, after I've checked references, and whittled
down the crop to one to three candidates who seem to be a good fit. And I
always notify candidates in job postings and phone screens that a writing
test is required. The content of which is subjective, but so's an
interview. The idea of providing a test that actually gives you something
you can use, and paying the interviewee for their time is one I never
thought of--thanks Geoff!
You use the tools at hand to do the best job you can hiring the right

I have a problem with writing tests... They work very well in determining
whether a first-time writer will work out, but I do not feel that they will
aptly identify the strengths and weaknesses of a veteran writer.

I took a writing test for my first writing job (the ol' PBJ). I was fine
with that. Though I was not compensated for the time I spent writing, I
didn't mind as I traveled 3 hours to get to the interview and though I
should make a day out of the trip anyhow (plus they were nice enough to buy
me lunch).

Once a writer has landed his/her first "gig", I think the samples provided
in the interview (or the list of accomplishments should the material be
proprietary) along with the references should identify your candidate's
strengths and weaknesses.

As an aside, I hope to never take another writing test. Actually, I won't
take another writing test. My track record speaks for me quite well (if I do
say so myself). Anyone who feels the need to give an experienced writer a
writing test should test their competence as a documentation manager rather
than the candidate's competence as a writer.

Just my opinion.

Bill Swallow
Technical Writer
Aptis Inc.
a subsidiary of Billing Concepts
phone: 518.433.7698
fax: 518.433.7680
<mailto:william -dot- swallow -at- aptissoftware -dot- com>

"The places I hiked to! - The roads that I rambled
To find the best eggs - that have ever been scrambled!
If you want to get eggs - you can't buy at a store,
You have to do things - never thought of before."
from: "Scrambled Eggs Super!" by Dr. Seuss

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