What's the perfect test? -Reply

Subject: What's the perfect test? -Reply
From: Diane Williams <DWILLIAM -at- WALCOFF -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 10 May 1995 13:46:38 -0500

>>- Has anybody ever taken a *good* test during an interview?
- Is anybody using a test for job candidates that seems to work well?
- Does anybody have any good ideas that they haven't tried?<<

When I was testing folks for the positions of technical copy editor and
word processor for AIA construction master texts and supporting
documents, I simply gave them a copy of some of the work they would
actually do (which I had already done, so I knew what marks and
comments I wanted to see). It was a piece that had been turned into me
by one of the regular "writers" (that's his job title but, believe me, he's no
writer!). I asked the word processor applicants to make the marked
changes on the copy, and I asked the copy editor applicants to look for
certain things I had listed on a style sheet, including grammar,
punctuation, spelling, excessive passive voice, organization, references,
and typography, and to mark what they saw.

One self-proclaimed "editor" only noted the excessive use of white space!
Others completely ignored the erroneous information in the header and
footer. Even with a dictionary and style sheet at hand, some never even
marked spelling, punctuation or grammar errors in the first paragraph!

This test was time consuming to administer and evaluate, but not to put
together because it was work I had already done from previous issue. It
clearly delineated the applicant's understanding of what a technical copy
editor was and what skills or aptitude they did or didn't have to do the job.

My suggestion to technical editing applicants is to try and read a copy of
the journal you would be working on or other software manuals that
company had produced, if possible, or to read that company's annual
report and marketing materials.

~~Diane Williams
dwilliam -at- walcoff -dot- com


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