RE: Seeking advice on leading an interview for a technical writer position in English

Subject: RE: Seeking advice on leading an interview for a technical writer position in English
From: Lynne Wright <Lynne -dot- Wright -at- tiburoninc -dot- com>
To: Claudine Chausson <cchausson -at- fircosoft -dot- com>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2012 15:25:22 +0000

You need to know:

- if they have the basic skills/aptitude for tech writing
- if they are willing to accept editorial feedback
- if they have the interpersonal skills to be able to work with SMEs and within the writing team

First off, you can tell a lot about how well they can communicate effectively, organize information, and their thoroughness from their c.v. Funny how it was always those who claimed to have "exceptional attention to detail" whose cvs contained typos or glaring formatting errors -- they got tossed on the reject pile immediately, no matter what their other credentials were.

To assess basic tech writing aptitude, I'd give applicants two tests:

- I'd give them a list of facts about a product, and ask them to write a one-paragraph section intro. The challenge was to see whether they could determine what information to use and what to leave out; how to organize the information; and whether they could write in plain English. They were also asked to include any questions they would ask a subject matter expert to be able to understand/complete the task. This tested basic analytical and problem-solving aptitudes.

- An editing test that consisted of a short procedure, with built-in errors (ie. syntax/capitalization errors; illustrations that weren't quite right; tricky typos (ie. use of "affect" rather than "effect"; left out a step so the sequence of actions didn't make sense; use of passive voice).

In the interview, you could also ask them to elaborate on a few basic principles of tech writing (ie. explain active vs. passive voice; the principles of Plain English).

As for the other two points:

Ask them whether they've had experience following a style guide, or whether they had sought out mentors in developing their tech writing skills. Try to feel out how open they are to accepting editorial feedback and getting past their egos so they can learn.

Their ability to work in a team and having the determination to (politely) get information out of people and bang away at difficult and sometimes tedious tasks to get the job done is a bit trickier to discern without actually working with them; you just have to go on your instincts and whatever you can gleam from their references.


-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+lynne -dot- wright=tiburoninc -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+lynne -dot- wright=tiburoninc -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of Claudine Chausson
Sent: Tuesday, March 06, 2012 3:06 AM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Seeking advice on leading an interview for a technical writer position in English

Hi everyone,

The company I work for is growing and we are currently hiring a junior
technical writer. We've received a few interesting résumés so far. My
manager is leading the first round of interviews and I might have to lead
the 2nd round. Yippeee. Not really actually. I've proposed to lead the
interviews in English because, though we're located in Paris, France, the
common language is English (many developers and SMEs do not speak French).

I've lead interviews in French in the past but I don't want to be just
translating questions into English. I know that in English-speaking
countries interviews are lead in a very different way and I would really
appreciate if you could direct me to websites that give sample questions.

Also, I would really much appreciate a sample of your own questions you
would ask to a junior technical writer if you were in my position.

Thanks for the help.

Claudine Chausson


Claudine Chausson
Senior Technical Writer
dir   +33 1 53 44 13 33
e  cchausson -at- fircosoft -dot- com





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Seeking advice on leading an interview for a technical writer position in English: From: Claudine Chausson

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