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For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
When you give an candidate a writing test, do you just turn them loose with
MS Word on one of your department's network computers or do you have a
computer set aside specifically for the writing test? If you don't use Word
at your company, do you expect them to know how to use your authoring tool
or do you have them use Word for the purpose of the writing test?
Our company doesn't use Word, so whether or not a candidate is proficient
with it is irrelevant. The authoring tools we do use are ones that are not
yet commonplace in documentation departments, so it's not likely that a
candidate would have enough experience with them to create much of anything
without a few hours of training on the tools first.
That said, if you're only concerned with a writer's communication skills and
research skills, I suppose they could write a user guide in Notepad and
accomplish the goals.
My intention was to see how they worked without evaluating proficiency with
tools. We have a lot of specific requirements for tools and standards here,
but I didn't bother with any of that. What they don't already know, they can
learn later. I really wanted to see what kind of content they would come up
with and what process they used to get there.
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