technical writers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 11-percent growth in technical writer jobs in the United States in the next decade.

That’s a fast rate of growth compared to many other industries. It goes to show that more companies find they need technical writers and more capable people need to fill these roles.

So, what do you do when the candidate pool is too crowded? How do you separate the wheat from the chaff and find the person who is best equipped to exceed in your position?

We’ll discuss some of the key qualities to use as a standard, as well as some questions, to help with the interview process.

Technical Writing Standards

What are the technical writer skills that turn a good technical writer into a great one? You need to not only know the common criteria but have your own standards to hold candidates accountable.

In general, a quality technical writer candidate should have the following skills:

  • Technical knowledge
  • Communication skills – verbal and written
  • Quick learning skills
  • Technical writing experience
  • Software experience
  • Short-term needs

Technical knowledge and good written communication skills seem like obvious needs. After all, this position is the crossroad between technical know-how and good writing.

A technical writer should be able to learn quickly, too. Much of the position will revolve around research, although previous technical knowledge makes things easier and quicker.

Finally, as with almost any job, you need to assess their experience both in the field as a whole and with specific software (or other tools) that may be required.

Your own short-term goals should be established as well, such as the need for a project with a quick turnaround.

Pay Attention to the Little Things

Other than overarching standards and criteria in tech writer jobs, you need to pay attention to more subtle attributes. Your best bet for a candidate will be someone who is detail oriented, professional, and organized.

Good technical writing relies on details – the little things – which also requires solid organizational skills. Professionalism is also key as the person will most likely be interacting with SMEs and outside clients on a regular basis.

Sometimes, paying close attention to a person’s technical writer portfolio will help you see these attributes clearly.

Technical Writer Interview Questions

Don’t make the same mistakes as others when interviewing a new candidate. You need to have your own company-specific questions to ask a writer, but here are some good examples to start with.

1. Describe a quality technical document

Here you assess the writer’s understanding of best practices within the career.

2. What skills must a technical writer have?

With this question, you’re gauging whether or not the candidate understands the scope of the position.

3. How do you acquire information for your projects?

Use this question to find out their process, organizational skills, and professionalism in working with SMEs.

4. Do you work best alone or in groups, and why? 

Here you want to find out their preferences but also assess their flexibility as multiple projects may have different needs.

Finding the Best Technical Writer

A technical writer is a valuable asset to companies across many industries, but when there are too many to choose from, how do you find the best?

By knowing the standards that turn a good technical writer into a great one and by asking the right questions, you’ll find the process is easy. If you have more questions or want to find out how PT Systems’ services can help, feel free to contact us right away!