RE: Interviewing writers = writing tests?

Subject: RE: Interviewing writers = writing tests?
From: Kay Robart <kay -dot- robart -at- integratedconcepts -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 7 Feb 2000 14:51:43 -0600

We used writing tests at my last company for every level of writer
after making a few mistakes in hiring. The test was a take-home that
presented some programmer information about a command and asked
the writer for procedures for using that command. It also provided
examples of what other procedures looked like. It requested writers
to make a list of the questions they would ask developers if they had
a chance.

To write an acceptable test required organizational ability, the ability to
decipher programmerese and turn it into clear language, and attention
to detail.

We were amazed at how many writers who looked very experienced
on paper simply parroted back the original text without regard to better
organization and made minor changes like changing passive to active.
It was clear they did not understand the text or how to fix it.

By the way, we gave as much credit to writers who asked questions
about material that was unclear as to writers who were able to figure
out the information and explain it correctly.

We felt the test, although difficult, was valuable in finding qualified
applicants. We gave it out at the first interview if we thought we would
want to bring the applicant back in.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Marilynne Smith [SMTP:marilyns -at- qualcomm -dot- com]
> At 06:23 AM 2/4/00 , William Swallow wrote:
> ><snip>
> >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.
> ></snip>
> >
> >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.
> >

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