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If you use a writing test, then use it to determine potential bad traits
that you want ironed out from the start. Don't pay too much attention to
the writing test, but more on other factors. I think it is better to
reveal from interview if the potential technical writer possess the
following (and depends on the level of experience you are after):
- ability to learn technical concepts quickly
- is organised in the way they work
- is not afraid to ask questions
- will fit within your working environment
- has a general enthusiasm for the role of a technical writer
- is familiar with your technology (if they are not a newbie)
I could go on, but the point is the writing test should only really be
seen as an aid (with low weighting) to determine their competence as a
When I came out of academia and got into technical writing I never had a
writing test. If I had a writing test I assume people would have
concluded that I could write, but that I had bad habits like using
superfluous expressions such as "on this hand, on the other hand", which
tend to be accepted in journal papers.
From: bounce-techwr-l-118026 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
[mailto:bounce-techwr-l-118026 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com] On Behalf Of Andrew
Sent: 11 February 2003 16:47
Cc: LKittle -at- Eidea -dot- com
Subject: Re: Technical Writing Tests
"Laurie Kittle" wrote
> My company is in the midst of a search
> for two technical writers. I have been
> tasked with creating or finding a tech
> writing test.
Writing tests are meaingless. You can't tell the capabiity of a writer
by how they describe a peanut butter sandwich. A peanut butter sandwich
is not a complex process or system. All this will tell you is can they
form sentences and follow styles which are skills that do not reveal a
person's capability to describe and explain technology.
You should give them a technical test. Find out how much they know about
the technologies you document and how they deal with complex
information. This will tell you more about them as a writer as well as
how they process information.
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