Software Development Templates
How to Test Technical Writers
How much time should be allotted to complete an
I'd suggest one hour.
Some people will race through it,
while others will deliberate over the grammar questions forever. Nonetheless, one hour
should be sufficient time for them to complete the test. By allocating this amount of time
to the test, you are also emphasizing its relative importance. If it were a simple
10-minute quiz, it wouldn't carry the same weight.
Here is a suggested approach for administering the test:
- When advertising the vacancy,
highlight that an evaluation
test is part of the assessment process.
- By saying this upfront, you will
under-qualified writers who know that they would not pass the test.
- When scheduling interviews, remind the applicants that
there will be a 1 hour test.
- Explain to them what this entails, for example, that there is
X number of questions on grammar, procurement, technology etc. Among other things, this
illustrates your company's professionalism as you are helping the applicants to prepare
for the interview.
- In turn, it would be unprofessional to spring the test on applicants when they turn up and
catch them by surprise. Completing the test takes about 90 minutes. Some applicants may have other arrangements to consider, such as day-care, commuting etc.
When they arrive, interview them first and then do
If they are unsuitable for the position, cancel the test and say that
it is not necessary at this point.
For those who are suitable, I'd do the following:
- Give them a pen and paper (always helps).
- Glass of water/coffee.
- Find a quiet room with a PC or laptop.
- Give them a printout of the test (most writers like
- Walk through the test so that they understand what s
required. They can ask any questions at this point.
- Once they are ready, leave the room and let them do the
- After 20 minutes, drop in to see how they are doing. This
is not to police them, but to see if they genuinely need any assistance.
After 60 minutes return and print out their test.
At this point, I'd suggest that they have a break so
that you can score the test.
Once you've completed this, sit down and go over the
scores. As everyone likes to know how they performed in a test, I'd walk through the
results and discuss them with the applicant.
For example, if they scored poorly in one section, ask
them how this area could be improved. And finally, thank them for taking the time to
do the tests and hope that they have gained from it.
Technical Writing Skills
Technical writers often have a degree in English,
technical writing, the technical field for which they are writing, or a combination of
It is most important that they have enough
expertise to understand their audience's background and needs.
For example, writers who develop documentation for
software APIs, microcontroller operation, and other technical subjects are often paid more
than those who write guides for a non-technical audience (for example, how to use email),
because it is difficult to find good writers with advanced technical knowledge.
Desktop publishing tools
After the documentation is written, using a desktop
publishing tool or a help authoring tool, it is normally reviewed for accuracy by one or
more "subject matter experts" (SMEs).
Technical communication is the process of
conveying information about technology to an intended audience. A technical communicator
is a person whose job involves technical communication. Technical communication jobs
include the following:
The technology can be of any kind, including the
sciences, high technology including computers and software, consumer electronics, and so
Role of Technical Writing
Technical communications are created and distributed by
most employees in service organizations today, especially by professional staff and
Effective communications require quality content,
language, format, and more. The entire point of communications is to disseminate
information; this is where written content comes in. To present the appropriate content,
it is imperative to understand one s audience and writing purpose.
If a document does not communicate the
information that the writer intends and what he or she wants the reader to understand,
then the communication is meaningless.
The writer has a self-interest in making the extra
effort: Looking credible is as important as being credible and getting results in
Respect and credibility of the writer/speaker are
integral to effective communications.
Readers will not trust the information from an
author if they do not believe that author is a valuable source of information or the
purveyor of worthwhile ideas.
Statement of Work
Furthermore, being respected is essential to being
persuasive, a key ingredient in business.
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