RE: On-the-spot writing test during a job interview?

Subject: RE: On-the-spot writing test during a job interview?
From: "Giordano, Connie" <Connie -dot- Giordano -at- FMR -dot- COM>
To: "'Keith Cronin'" <kcronin -at- daleen -dot- com>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 1999 16:35:31 -0500

Keith,

I have had to take writing tests for both tech comm and marcom. I think
it's valuable, and not undue pressure. Marcom folks face deadline pressures
equal to those of tech comm. It may seem unfair, but better to find out
in advance if the candidate can handle it. Some test cases to consider: 1)
Provide a high-level spec or fact sheet on the stapler, and ask the
candidate to come up with a list of prioritized features/benefits for your
target audience (I had to do that for Spanish-language phone cards!). 2)
Or write a web ad for the stapler. Some ideas I hope you can use. 3) Find
an in-depth research article from a trade pub on the stapler industry and
where it's going in the next 5 years. Have the candidate read the article
and summarize in a page or less (had to do this one a few years ago for a
piece on when and how many financial institutions would move to NT).

Any of these test creativity, comprehension and skill, under deadline
pressure.

Just some ideas to consider, HTH

Connie Giordano

-----Original Message-----
From: Keith Cronin [mailto:kcronin -at- daleen -dot- com]
Sent: Friday, November 12, 1999 9:11 AM
To: TECHWR-L
Subject: On-the-spot writing test during a job interview?


I have been asked to be one of several people who will each individually
interview the same applicant for a copy writing job at a software developer.
I'm the company's proposal writer, and have previously worked as a technical
writer for this company. The company is looking to me to help judge the
applicant's "writing skills and creativity."

What do you think of giving the applicant a writing test during the job
interview?

I had to take such a test for a previous tech writing job, cranking out a
description of how to use a stapler, assuming no "stapling knowledge" on the
reader's part.

The job in question here is a marketing-oriented copy writing job, NOT a
tech writing job, but the applicant IS expected to be able to write about
high-tech and/or abstract subject matter.

I thought it would be a good idea to administer something along the lines of
"the stapler test," but a well-respected colleague has suggested that for
people who "don't test well," it would apply unfair pressure (in addition to
the pressure inherent to any job interview), and could produce deceptive
and/or potentially damning results.

I tend to feel that EVERY pro writing job is a test of one's ability to
write under pressure; for me such a test was a chance to "put my word
processor where my mouth was." But I don't want to be unnecessarily harsh on
a job seeker.

What do YOU (fellow TECHWR-L members) think? Thank you for your input!

-Keith

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