Agency and interviewing questions

Subject: Agency and interviewing questions
From: Matthew Stern <MAStern -at- PLATSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 9 Dec 1996 10:10:00 -0800

Here are some answers to the questions Melissa Hunter-Kilmer posted on

>Are writing samples usually brought only to the interview?

Yes, usually.

>If so, how the heck can you tell in advance if the person is worth

The resume itself can tell you that. Not only would you look at a
applicant's experience and education, but also how the candidate
prepared the resume. Is it well written, edited, and formatted? Is it
professional looking? Did the applicant organize the information well?
The applicant's resume can tell you a lot about his or her writing and
formatting proficiency.

>Does anybody have some hot tips on how to tell if an applicant has such
high-level skills?

When you interview the applicant, ask questions about how he or she
performs certain tasks with PageMaker. Here's where the samples can be
helpful: You can point out interesting formats and ask how the candidate
did them. Also ask how the candidate learned those particular skills. It
will reveal a lot about the candidate's abilities and willingness to

One more thing about writing samples: I don't depend on them a lot for
making hiring decisions. For starters, you don't know how much of a
manual is the applicant's own work. I've come across job applicants who
claim that a manual they did was theirs, even though it might have been
heavily based on boilerplate, and the applicant did just a few changes
(and heavily edited ones at that). I'll look for the basics in a writing
sample: professional appearance, a clear and active writing style, good
organization, and easy-to-follow procedures. I put more emphasis on the
interview and ask for specifics about how the candidate perfomed certain
writing tasks.

Hope this helps.

Matthew Stern
Sr. Technical Writer
Platinum Software Corporation

e-mail: mastern -at- platsoft -dot- com
Personal web site:

Opinions expressed here are solely my own.

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