Re: Sample document creation for contract position

Subject: Re: Sample document creation for contract position
From: Janice Gelb <Janice -dot- Gelb -at- Sun -dot- COM>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Sun, 22 Mar 2009 09:05:36 +1100

Melissa Lowery-Smith wrote:
> I was recently asked to create a 10-15 page document (they referred to it as a technical test) based on a brief interview with an SME as part of the interview process for a 3-6 month technical writer contract. There was no discussion about reimbursement for the time that this document creation process would require. They wanted to interview me on Monday, during which I would spend time with the SME discussing the type of information to be included in the document, then they wanted the completed document returned by Friday for review. They also wanted me to forward some existing writing samples to them before the interview. I felt very uncomfortable about being asked to send ahead
> my writing samples by e-mail (as in I don't do this ever) and then additionally being asked to produce such a significant new writing sample in order to get a short-term job. Did I over-react to something that is a reasonable request for a contract position? I might have been less apprehensive if this had been for a permanent position or if it had been proposed as a paid trial. This is a very small company that has not had a technical writer previously, so maybe they didn't realize how their request was going to be perceived. I pulled my name out of consideration for the role, but I am wondering how other writers would have responded to this situation.
>

I don't think you are overreacting. This seems to
me to go beyond what a reasonable job interview
should require. I've been in interviews where
they asked some sort of writing test ("Please
write up instructions for how to use the telephone
in 20 minutes or so") but nothing this detailed or
time consuming.

Worst interpretation is that they were trying to
get documentation out of you for free; best is
that they're clueless about how to interview for
a technical writing position.

I'd probably say something like "I'm afraid that
I can't commit the time to write up a document of
that length for a job interview. However, I'm happy
to provide you with samples of previous work I've
done or do a shorter writing sample on a subject
that does not require an SME meeting."

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References:
Sample document creation for contract position: From: Melissa Lowery-Smith

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