Follow-Up to "What Might A Writing Test Be"--Thanks, Everyone!

Subject: Follow-Up to "What Might A Writing Test Be"--Thanks, Everyone!
From: Kelli Bond <versakel -at- EARTHLINK -dot- NET>
Date: Sat, 28 Mar 1998 17:20:45 -0800

Thanks to all who've written in response to my portion of this thread.
What I failed to mention in both posts is that this test is part of a
2-3 day interviewing process at the firm in question. Applicants are
able to take the source documents home, evaluate them and devise a
writing strategy, come back to the organization, and do the test.

I posted what they did more as *one possible*, not the one and only,
alternative to the proofreading test Tracy mentioned. I don't do the
5-6 hour test in my own organization (KBA/DesignWrite), nor have I
actually taken it (another thing omitted from the original--I'm going by
detailed information one of my colleagues gave not too long ago).

As I wrote back to someone who posted me privately, no experienced tech
writer--especially one with several years under his or her belt plus a
variety of writing assignments to show for that amount of time--should
have to take a writing test as a condition of employment. Answers to
interview questions on processes/behaviors (such as those Chris Hamilton
and Elna Tymes laid out) plus reference checks and writing samples
should give a hiring manager sufficient information to work from. (By
the way, most of the people who work with me are those I've worked with
on other projects, or come highly recommended by these same folks.)

When that colleague told me about the 2-3 day interview/lengthy test
situation, my response paralleled John Posada's--I'll bill 'em!

The only times I give a writing test are when I'm conducting a
needs/learner analysis for a workplace business writing course, or
when--as one of our Techwhirlers wrote--someone doesn't have a lot of
experience or any samples, but great attitude.

In the case of the analysis, the test is in three parts: proofreading,
re-writing, and writing from scratch. Participants and, if possible,
the person who assigns them the most writing (most often an immediate
supervisor) are interviewed as well. I also collect on-the-job writing
samples for the course notebook.

As for the "green" writing applicant, the test will involve a procedure
on, say, how to use a calculator or the telephone!

Take care,
Kelli Bond
Principal Consultant

P.S. Chris Hamilton asked about the applicability of courtesy to
technical writing. "Courtesy" covers items such as consideration for
the informational and language needs of the reader, and tone. These are
areas where many novices as well as nonprofessionals (those who think
they're tech writers, but aren't) need help.

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