RE: Advice for interviewing new tech writers

Subject: RE: Advice for interviewing new tech writers
From: Lynne Wright <Lynne -dot- Wright -at- tiburoninc -dot- com>
To: Dan Goldstein <DGoldstein -at- nuot -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L (techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com)" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:33:00 +0000

That's the problem with candidates submitting writing samples -- they may have been cleaned up by an editor, or have been produced by someone else. I've experienced plenty of job applicants who proved, once hired, that they could not produce work anywhere near to the standard indicated by their samples.

In addition to asking for a writing sample, I had candidates write a short product intro based on a fact sheet, and had them proofread a short procedure that had a bunch of common grammatical, structural, and logical errors built in. You'd be surprised how many candidates who claimed to have a "keen eye for detail" who missed a really obvious typo in the procedure title, did not correct instances of awkward passive-voice constructions, and missed a lot of inconsistences in names and formatting.

The tests gave me a more accurate idea of the candidates' real skill level and tech writing knowledge, and allowed for me to discuss what areas they might need to work on (and their willingness to learn and take editorial feedback) during the interview.

-----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 Dan Goldstein
Sent: January-22-15 9:20 AM
To: TECHWR-L (techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com)
Subject: RE: Advice for interviewing new tech writers

A good portfolio is worth far more than any silly test. But when someone gives you a sample of their work, you need a way to find out whether they really wrote it.


-----Original Message-----
From: Kelly Smith
Sent: Wednesday, January 21, 2015 8:46 PM
To: techwr-l List
Subject: Advice for interviewing new tech writers

I recently took a full-time position as the first tech writer in IT at a 40+ year old manufacturing company. As you can imagine, we have a lot of work ahead of us sorting out all the documentation.

After seeing what I was able to do for the IT department in the 3 months since I was hired, the director of another department is considering hiring a tech writer. My boss volunteered me to sit in on the interviews.

I won't be managing this person (as far as I know, since they'll be in a different department) but we will be expected to collaborate with each other and with the other tech writer who was hired the same day I was (in yet another department).

Do any of you have experience hiring other tech writers and could you give me any advice?


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Doc-To-Help: The Quickest Way to Author and Publish Online Help, Policy & Procedure Guides, eBooks, and more using Microsoft Word | http://bit.ly/doctohelp2015

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Looking for articles on Technical Communications? Head over to our online magazine at http://techwhirl.com

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Follow-Ups:

References:
Advice for interviewing new tech writers: From: Kelly Smith
RE: Advice for interviewing new tech writers: From: Dan Goldstein

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