RE: Technical Writing Tests

Subject: RE: Technical Writing Tests
From: Alan Bucher <bucherino -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2003 12:41:46 -0800 (PST)


Baird, LeAnne wrote:
>The best one I've ever used is really simple.
>...
>"Write the text of a help topic about making a peanut butter and
>jelly sandwich.

Aside from providing jovial banter about the different responses
received, I can't imagine how this provides any unique insight into
how well the candidate performs on the job. Surely the all-time
winner candidate demonstrated her winning skills in her interview
discussions, writing samples, and references. You didn't need a test
to identify those.

This test sets up an environment that is not in any way
representative of any workplace that I've seen:
-the writer knows every detail of the product
-the writer can't ask anyone questions
-the writer has as much time as they need

At least the other test proponents claim their goal is to see how
well the writer parses technical material and asks questions of the
SMEs. This test does none of that.

>And many, many candidates wrote serviceable but unimaginative
>procedures with no context content at all--they didn't make the cut
>because we were needing people who could conceptualize, plan, and
>execute their own projects from scratch.

And did any of these candidates have past samples that demonstrated
their ability to conceptualize, plan, and execute their own projects
from scratch? If so, then your "test" lost you some good candidates.

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