On-the-spot writing tests

Subject: On-the-spot writing tests
From: Paula Puffer <papuffer -at- psquareddoc -dot- com>
To: "'TECHWR-L'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 13 Nov 1999 11:44:22 -0600



On Saturday, November 13, 1999 2:00 AM, Keith Cronin Writes:
> Subject: On-the-spot writing test during a job interview?
> From: Keith Cronin <kcronin -at- daleen -dot- com>
> Date: Fri, 12 Nov 1999 09:10:40 -0500
> X-Message-Number: 10
>
> 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 don't think it gives you enough of an indication about someone's
writing skills, however neither can an interview. I've been tested
once on an interview and found the experience a bit disconcerting
since I had almost completed my master's work in TW and had
brought several writing samples in a portfolio. So I was a bit surprised
when I was asked do a grammar test and a writing test.

> 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'm used to writing under pressure any more between the last two places
I have worked plus the volunteer work I do. But I do know that work places
vary in their intensity 8-)

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

To which Jim McAward responded:

> I won't hire a writer unless they have performed well on a live
> writing exercise - I've been using the stapler test for years. I
> don't, however, spring it on anyone blind - I tell them before the
> interview that I'll be asking for a writing sample. In almost all
> cases, I save this for the 2nd interview (when I have the candidate
> talk to their potential co-workers and/or other managers).

Now this makes sense to me. Have the writing test on the second
interview would mean that the person might be a bit more relaxed
than in the first interview and able to perform a writing test better.
Therefore you'd get a better indication of what they could do.
It's true that a writing test will apply pressure to those who "don't
> test well"; but the job will do that also, and exact a much higher
> cost if they fail!

Agreed. We've had two people at my current workplace who had
to leave because they didn't perform well with or without pressure.

Paula Puffer
Technical Writer
www.psquareddoc.com
Webmaster
www.pcosupport.org






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