Tips on Interviewing and Evaluating Technical Writers – Part 1 of 2

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Technical writer resumes represent diverse experience across every field.

Understanding what’s relevant is vital to choosing technical writers because they will be working closely with you and your team every day. The candidates you choose will have a significant impact on the success of your projects. You want to be sure that you choose the people with the proper skills and who are a good fit for your brand.

ProEdit has a trained team that staffs technical writers. Here are a few tips that we use to find ideal candidates for our clients.

Reviewing Resumes

Before reviewing resumes for a position, create a brief checklist to organize the process. This ensures you don’t overlook important details, and it keeps the evaluation process balanced. While a tall stack of resumes can make it tempting to skip the basics, it pays to be thorough at this stage of the hiring process. Your checklist should target the following areas:

  • Spelling, grammar, and formatting — Treat the candidate’s resume as the first sample of his or her work. Errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar can serve as red flags right from the start. Professional formatting and concise, well-written credentials, on the other hand, can speak to the candidate’s skills and give you an early idea of the level of work you can expect.
  • Relevant skill set — The better defined your position, the more confident you can be when selecting a candidate to fill it. At ProEdit, we use job descriptions to screen resumes. Making sure that your job description thoroughly defines the skills and experience needed for the position will help you feel certain about how candidates measure up.
  • Experience — A great technical writer will have experience in both the techniques and the tools of the trade. If you have a type of software or industry tool that is central to the success of your project, this can be a good criterion for ranking resumes. Experience in your industry may also be a good indication that your candidate will hit the ground running.

Reviewing Work Samples

Manager Reviewing Technical Writer Work Samples
TIP: Understanding a candidate’s resume and work samples is the first step of effectively interviewing and evaluating technical writers.

Getting samples of a candidate’s prior work can provide a concrete demonstration of his or her abilities. Samples don’t have to match exactly the kinds of projects the candidate will be working on. You’re looking for clean, well-formatted, and effective documentation. Here are some of the questions we ask when reviewing a technical writing candidate’s work samples:

  • Does the writing communicate clearly and effectively? The central purpose of technical communication is getting the necessary information to its audience. Do you feel confident that you understand what the candidate was trying to express? Would you feel comfortable providing documentation of this quality to your own audiences?
  • Does the candidate understand the audience? Good technical writers should know who they are addressing and be able to write accordingly. Do the samples demonstrate an awareness of the audience? Examples of red flags would be extensive explanation in a document for expert professionals or overly technical writing for introductory material.
  • Are the deliverables free of errors? As with the candidate’s resume, the candidate’s samples should be free of grammatical, spelling, and usage errors. Remember that the candidate selected the samples as evidence of his or her best work. Would you be satisfied with this quality of documentation for your own projects?

Read Part 2 – Tips on Interviewing and Evaluating Technical Writers: Interviewing Candidates

read part two

We find the most talented and creative Technical Writers.

  1. We gather applicants.
  2. We rate experience.
  3. We interview the best.
  4. You choose who you want.

At ProEdit, we put these and other techniques to use every day to find technical writers for our clients. If you would like to learn more about the hiring process, or about how we make that process simple and effective, contact us today!

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