Re: Testing Candidates (was: The Results)

Subject: Re: Testing Candidates (was: The Results)
From: kcronin -at- daleen -dot- com
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2003 13:04:54 -0600

Goober wrote:

> Writing tests can be "hacked" by memorized
> methodology. It's too easy to BS your way through a
> writing test (trust me, I've done it many times, and
> (going back many years) was even "congratulated" on
> successfully doing so (many times) throughout my high
> school and college years.

I disagree. Has it occurred to you that you did well on those writing
tests because you can actually *write*? The quality I see in a sampling of
your posts suggests to me that you're a fine writer. Perhaps it's
something you do without thinking, but it's my experience that it's not a
skill every would-be writer shares.

It's easy to be faked out by a writing sample. I think it is much harder
to be faked out by a piece of writing done on-the-spot. Yes, they may tell
you what you want to hear, based on memorized tips picked up from
interview books (that's how I answer the truly cliched interview
questions). But I don't see how they can totally fake the ability to
express themselves clearly about an unexpected topic. That level of faking
requires some good communication skills, which of course is what you want
them to have anyway.

> Your style guide will govern how they write. You
> should focus on how they think.

Major oversimplification. Your style guide will provide *usage* guidelines
- if that's what you mean by "how they write." But if your "how" refers to
"how good" or "how bad" they write, sorry - no style guide exerts that
much control. How they think governs how they write.

And here's an important point: how they write is not necessarily reflected
in how they talk. I've seen amazingly little corollary between people's
speaking skills and their writing skills, a realization that really
surprised me when I first encountered it. So a quick-witted and clever
interview subject may be a joy to talk to, but may still be a lousy

From working in teams of writers and interviewing many job applicants,
I've become aware of how rare a really good writer is. Some of the more
naturally talented writers on this board sometimes overlook that fact, I
think, instead wanting to brush over writing skill as a given, and focus
entirely on the technical part of tech writing. They do this, I think,
because for them, the writing part is intuitive. It ain't necessarily so
for everybody, as the person who started this thread has found!

Keith Cronin
striving to make technical writing a household word. Well, actually it's
two words. So I guess I'm really striving to make it a household phrase.
Or maybe it could still just be a household word, but it would have to be
in a duplex. Or maybe one of those places that has a guest cottage. Yeah,
that should work.

Previous by Author: Re: Avoid the Semicolon in Tech Writing?
Next by Author: Re: Testing Candidates (was: The Results)
Previous by Thread: Re: Manufacturing
Next by Thread: Re: Testing Candidates (was: The Results)

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads