RE: Technical Writing Tests

Subject: RE: Technical Writing Tests
From: "Dave Neufeld" <Dave_Neufeld -at- spectrumsignal -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2003 11:49:19 -0800

D~"Laurie Kittle" wrote
D~> My company is in the midst of a search
D~> for two technical writers. I have been
D~> tasked with creating or finding a tech
D~> writing test.

D~Andrew Plato wrote

D~You should give them a technical test. Find out how much they
D~know about the
D~technologies you document and how they deal with complex
D~information. This will
D~tell you more about them as a writer as well as how they
D~process information.

You could combine the technical and writing tests and give them a "technical writing" test. When we hire, I look for writers with an understanding of C/C++ programming and hardware design. Basically a person with an electrical or computer engineering background is preferred. But they're hard to find.

For the test, I present a piece of moderately comment C code for a C function call within one of our APIs, and instructions on how we document our APIs (part of our Style Guide where they are told how the fonts have already been fondled for them, so that they don't have to...). I also ask them what other questions they would be asking about the function from the developer. (the code is only "moderately" commented...)

They document the function. And can even take it home with them, and return the next day.

I hope to accomplish several things with this test:
- weed out the b*llsh*t artists who say they know "about" programming, but don't.
- See how well they read code.
- Can they they follow instructions?
- Can they write well?
- See how engaged they will be with the technology; what other questions will they ask?
- Give the candidate an glimpse of what they are expected to do here.

Hasn't worked perfectly; never seemed to find the ideal candidate. I used it mostly a few years ago, when there were more jobs than talent. (Different world right now, isn't it?) But it was a place to start, and could give me some objective idea about the person.


> David Neufeld [ Lead Technical Writer - Wireless ]
> Spectrum Signal Processing Inc.
> t 604.421.5422 // f 604.421-1764
mailto:dave_neufeld -at- spectrumsignal -dot- com
> Confidential information may be contained in this message. If you are not the addressee indicated in this message please destroy this Message and kindly notify the sender by reply email.


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