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Technical Writer Interview Questions

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  1. What was one of the most recent technical writing projects that you have worked on, and how did you complete your tasks? See answer
  2. What would you say are some of your best qualities as a technical writer? See answer
  3. What types of citations are you most familiar with, and do you have a favorite style? See answer
  4. Have you ever worked as a part of a technical writing team, and do you prefer to work as part of a team or alone? See answer
  5. As a technical writer, have you ever had difficulties working with a subject matter expert? How did you overcome them? See answer
  6. What is the difference between a blog and a white paper? See answer
  7. In your experience, what are the day-to-day functions of a technical writer?
  8. During the information gathering stage of your work as a technical writer, what are the typical challenges you face?
  9. What strategies do you use to approach subject matter experts?
  10. As a technical writer, what skills do you need to excel on the job?
  11. Which topics or industries do you prefer to write about most?
  12. What publication platforms can you work with?
  13. What are the similarities between MS Word and Adobe Framemaker? When is it appropriate to use each of these tools?
  14. Do you have any technical writing certification?
  15. How do you organize your day to ensure that you deliver quality work and meet deadlines?
  16. What is the use of adding call-outs in technical writing?
  17. Tell me about topic-based authoring.
  18. Explain the steps involved in the Document Development Life Cycle.
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6 Technical Writer Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

What was one of the most recent technical writing projects that you have worked on, and how did you complete your tasks?

A:

Long-term projects are the lifeblood of the technical writer. You want to have a concise answer to this question because it will allow you to plan ahead and learn more about how the writer approaches projects. Additionally, depending on the specifications of your company, you can learn more about the candidate’s aptitude with certain subjects. For example, a roofing company will want to work with someone adept at roofing projects. What to look for in an answer:

  • Experience with different projects and deadlines
  • Dedication to proper research for the task
  • Experience in your specific field of focus
Example:

“At my previous workplace, I completed a massive catalog order for medical supplies and carefully researched every item with the help of a reliable SME.”

Q:

What would you say are some of your best qualities as a technical writer?

A:

Think about what you want from your potential candidate. Dedication to their work and the ability to adhere to guidelines is crucial, so make sure that they highlight their focus as a desirable quality. Being able to perform quality research and present content in an engaging fashion are also valuable qualities in this field. Where possible, search for their capacity to go the extra mile for a project. What to look for in an answer:

  • Attention to stylistic and informational detail
  • Ability to perform careful and accurate research
  • Dedication to deadlines and specific instructional requirements
Example:

“Some of my best qualities include my dedication to timely completion and organizational ability in a technical paper, especially in referencing my research.”

Q:

What types of citations are you most familiar with, and do you have a favorite style?

A:

Being able to reference correctly is a necessity for a technical writer, especially with more advanced projects. You want your candidate to be reliable in their ability to tie back to academic papers and other technical websites. Learning more about what the potential hire likes to use more can give you a good feel for their professional character. What to look for in an answer:

  • Experience with APA and MLA citations
  • Understanding how to apply different styles as required
  • A preference in style according to specific projects
Example:

“Although I have experience using APA and MLA citations, I prefer to use the Chicago style because it allows me to skip certain style formalities for a more unique tone in my projects.”

Q:

Have you ever worked as a part of a technical writing team, and do you prefer to work as part of a team or alone?

A:

Depending on the size of your projects, it can be a good idea to learn more about the candidate’s work ethic when it comes to team collaboration. A capable writer should always be able to work with a team, especially if there is a division of labor according to expertise. Seeing how they understand teamwork can allow you to plan for their position within your business. What to look for in an answer:

  • Good interpersonal and communication skills
  • Experience with task delegation
  • Ability to establish clear introductions and conclusions for other writers
Example:

“I have worked as a part of a team before, and I prefer it to working alone because I enjoy collaborating on projects with others.”

Q:

As a technical writer, have you ever had difficulties working with a subject matter expert? How did you overcome them?

A:

Working with a subject matter expert, or SME, is often necessary for the field of technical writing. You want your potential candidate to not only be experienced in working with these professionals but also be creative when it comes to overcoming collaborative difficulties. What to look for in an answer:

  • Experience with SMEs in the past
  • Ability to think outside the box when it comes to gathering industry-specific information
  • Flexibility in overcoming potential communication or scheduling issues
Example:

”I once ran into scheduling issues with an SME, but I overcame them by changing my contact hours in favor of completing the project.”

Q:

What is the difference between a blog and a white paper?

A:

Technical writers will have to create different types of content, including blogs and white papers. This question allows hiring managers to learn about candidates' experience producing a wide range of technical content required by their company. A skilled technical writer will be able to write white papers, articles, blogs, case studies and other types of content based on the company's requirements. The candidate's answer should emphasize:

  • In-depth knowledge of content creation
  • Knowledge of the company's content needs
  • Flexibility
Example:

“A blog is usually a piece expressing the opinion of the author on a technical or non-technical issue. In a corporate setting, it is used to reflect the company or an executive's thoughts or opinion on a matter. A white paper is a piece of writing created to deliver technical facts to a professional or business audience. White papers are like reports but they are written in an easy-to-understand language and persuade the audience to take decisions desirable to the company that wrote it.”

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