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4 Technical Writing Tests to Screen Candidates

by Tom Johnson on Nov 4, 2019
categories: technical-writing

In an attempt to more easily filter technical writing candidates in the hiring process, I'm experimenting with a series of multiple-choice tests to "take the pulse" of any technical writing candidate to easily see whether a candidate is worth moving up to the next level in a hiring process (for example, moving from the resume pile to a phone screen).

About the tests

These tests are specifically for tech comm candidates applying to mid-level of senior-level software tech writing roles that involve creating or working with API documentation.  

There are four screening tests covering the following categories:

  • Industry awareness (25 questions)
  • Language (20 questions)
  • API documentation (25 questions)
  • Processes and strategies (20 questions)

Note: As this is the first iteration of my tests, this version is entirely experimental and not based on any evidence or industry-endorsed knowledge. I invite you to take the tests to gauge your level, provide feedback on the questions, and let me know if these tests seem worthwhile for screening candidates.

Test procedure and requirements

The tests have the following requirements and procedures:

  • • You have to provide a name and email to take each test. You can use a bogus name and email if you want. I won’t do anything with your name or email. Nothing is public.
  • You have only 10 minutes to complete the test. The time remaining is shown as a blue bar in the upper-right area of the test. Move your mouse over the bar to see the specific time that remains.

  • You can take each test only once. However, you can use a different name and email address and take it again if desired.
  • Only one answer is correct (or best) per question.
  • All questions (except the first one) are worth the same number of points. The first question asks for your job title and level of experience so I can correlate the results. This first question is not worth any points.
  • You can search online for answers to any of the questions, but note that since you only have 10 minutes to complete each test, you won’t have much time. You can easily burn through time researching a question and then not have time to finish other questions.
  • You can go back to previous questions. For example, if you don’t know an answer, you could skip it and go to the next question. Then if you have time at the end, you could search online for info related to that question. At the end, click Submit Answers to submit all your answers.
  • After you complete the test, you’ll see your score and the list of questions and individual results. 70% correct or higher is considered passing. Your score won’t be public, but I’ll be able to see it as an Easy LMS admin in the internal reports.

Please don’t be offended if the questions don’t align with your level of expertise or provide a measure of your professional depth. These questions aren’t an objective measure of professional knowledge. They are somewhat random questions from Tom’s brain and world of experience. However, I will evaluate the general success of the responses based on the number of correct answers to judge whether the questions have some validity. This will help me evaluate the questions with some data and hopefully work towards another iteration.

If any question seems misleading, irrelevant, or wrong, please let me know by reaching out to me.

Technical Writing Tests

Here are the four tests:

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm an API technical writer based in the Seattle area. On this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, AI, information architecture, content strategy, writing processes, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation course if you're looking for more info about documenting APIs. Or see my posts on AI and AI course section for more on the latest in AI and tech comm.

If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the tech comm, be sure to subscribe to email updates below. You can also learn more about me or contact me. Finally, note that the opinions I express on my blog are my own points of view, not that of my employer.