RE: Sample Writing Tests Needed

Subject: RE: Sample Writing Tests Needed
From: Jim_McAward -at- Ademco -dot- com
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2000 12:57:00 -0400

Hello, Colleen (and all my Techwr-L friends)!

I always administer a writing test, though I never call it that...
it's a real-time "sample." I usually save the writing sample for the
second interview, which means by then I feel the candidate probably
meets the basic job requirements. Oh, and it's never a surprise... I
tell them before the interview that it's a requirement.

And it is. A writing sample will tell you much more about the person
than will a fancy resume. People who bring writing samples with them
may be bringing the fruit of other people's labor... it's useful
fodder for discussion (" did you solve THAT problem?") but it's
not definitive. Also, the test lets you open the door to a
"diamond-in-the-rough" since people who do well on the test will
likely work out well on the job, even if their resume is short.

Candidates generally have no problem writing the sample - senior level
people need to be reassured that you test everyone, so they don't feel
singled out... and you DO need to test everybody. (I've avoided
hiring enough posers to convince me of this.)

The truth winds up on the paper... people who do well on the test do
well on the job, while people who do poorly on the test don't get
hired. "Well" is not necessarily perfect, or entirely complete... but
you'll be able to follow the candidate's thought process, and see if
they can communicate well.

Here's the text of my test - er, Sample... which is usually supplied
with a *very* familiar piece of office equipment. Rather than the PBJ
sandwich or starting a car, I prefer something that the writer can
actually hold, such as an electric pencil sharpener or a stapler.

Writing Sample Instructions

Examine this simple product, about which people *think* they know
everything. Look carefully, and allow it to teach you!

After examining the product, write an operation guide for it. Your
target audience is a person with average (high-school level) reading
skills. Your reader has sufficient mechanical acumen to change a
light bulb, and, at the breakfast table, can retrieve the toast from a
malfunctioning toaster without incident.

Be sure to cover purpose, functions, care/feeding, and maintenance
issues. After you are finished, your reader should understand how to
use the product - just by reading your work!

Some tips:

- If in doubt of a part's name, don't fret! Describe the part based
on its functionality.

- Well written, clean copy is your goal - make your sentences strong,
clear, and short without being choppy.

- You may use paper/pencil, MS-Word, Corel WordPerfect, or any Windows
text editor. By the way, the typical sample is between two and five
pages in length.

Good luck - have fun, and take as long as you want.


Good luck in hiring your writer(s), Colleen... & have a great


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