Re: Evaluating Candidates Using Tests, Logic Questions, and Similar

Subject: Re: Evaluating Candidates Using Tests, Logic Questions, and Similar
From: Joe Malin <jmalin -at- jmalin -dot- com>
To: sharon -at- anthrobytes -dot- com
Date: Thu, 16 Nov 2006 21:42:26 -0800

I would not be surprised by a writing test, and I could certainly do
well on one. I am just not particularly convinced that it helps you find
the best person for a position.

I studied to be a software engineer, and I worked for several years in
the profession. I do not remember being asked to write an entire
program, although I could certainly have done it. Instead, the typical
technical interviewer asked me to read an existing program and tell me
what it did (or didn't do, looking for errors). I was also asked to
solve logic and mathematics puzzles/questions to demonstrate that I
could think logically and understood the domain in which I would be working.

I recently interviewed at a well-known company for a job documenting
APIs. One technical interviewer, a software engineer, asked me to walk
through the process by which I would document a programming language he
had designed. I impressed him (I think) because I demonstrated the

* I understood the need to ask thoughtful questions about the audience.
* I could outline how I would put together a documentation plan.
* I asked lots of questions.
* I asked really insightful questions. For example, when I started
asking him about the syntax and semantics of function definitions,
I asked if parameters are passed by value or by reference. That
impressed him; it's not something you'd know to ask unless you've
studied programming. I further impressed him by knowing the pros
and cons of passing by value.

I'm not trying to brag here; what I'm trying to point out is that for
API documentation you need to think like a programmer but write like a
writer. I think that every domain will have its particular needs and
issues, and that if you ask the right questions or pose the right
exercises you will find the right candidate. Based on that, I wonder if
we are using portfolios, writing tests, and editing tests because they
provide us the information we need. Do we really get anything from them,
or is it the way it's always been done? That's *not* a rhetorical
question! I have worked as a writer for five years after working as an
engineer for over 15 years, so much of the collective wisdom and
experience of the profession is unfamiliar to me.


Sharon Burton wrote:
> But you're interviewing for a writing job so where is the surprise? I'd be
> surprised if you didn't know this was possible. I've had them sprung on me
> many times and I always get excited. I'm very good at writing and I'm
> interviewing for a writing thing. So what's the big deal?

WebWorks ePublisher Pro for Word features support for every major Help
format plus PDF, HTML and more. Flexible, precise, and efficient content
delivery. Try it today!

Easily create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to any popular Help file format or printed documentation. Learn more at

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- infoinfocus -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

RE: Evaluating Candidates Using Tests, Logic Questions, and Similar: From: Sharon Burton

Previous by Author: Re: Question of the Day
Next by Author: Re: "Linux is now not supported"
Previous by Thread: RE: Evaluating Candidates Using Tests, Logic Questions, and Similar
Next by Thread: RE: Spam:RE: Evaluating Candidates Using Tests, Logic Questions, and Similar

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads