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I have only taken one test when interviewing for a tech writer
position (granted, I haven't interviewed for that many TW positions).
At the interview (for a SW company), I was asked to write instructions
on how to use a bank machine.
Yes, it was a little nerve racking, but I thought it was a useful
exercise. I had to write about something that I am familiar with,
making the test somewhat less stressful. But in other ways it was more
difficult- I use the bank machine all the time without thinking about
what I do. But at least I wasn't writing about screen captures for
some application I had never seen before which probably would have
made me really nervous. Even though it was a fairly low tech example
of my writing, I think it would have demonstrated how I organize
procedures, concepts, etc, as well as my writing ability.
I admit, I wasn't offered the position. However, there was interest
expressed by the interviewer after he would have had a chance to
review the test results. And I was given a reason for not being
offered the job that had nothing to do with my writing ability (or my
personality, for that matter). I'd like to think I did well, but I
don't know. I wasn't forewarned that there would be a test, which is
what I would have preferred. But I think the reason the interviewer
asked me to take the test was because he liked what he saw to that
point - my personality, my samples, etc., and he just wanted to verify
that I could, in fact, write. I didn't have a problem with that.
I think that the interviewer took an approach that corresponds to many
of the opinions being expressed on the list. Had he not liked what I
had to offer, I don't think he would have administered the test.
Personality is just important as writing ability. It doesn't matter
that an interviewee can write circles around the next guy if he won't
work well with others in the department, or whatever other shortcoming
there might be. As with pretty much everything in life, there needs to
be a balance.
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