One of the latest fields on the horizon is technical writing. Technical writers, also known as technical communicators, are responsible for preparing white papers, design specifications, user manuals, test manuals, etc., for the clients. These interview questions will help you to know more about this field and its expectations.
“That writer does the most who gives his reader the most knowledge and takes from him the least time.”
~ Charles Caleb Colton
A technical writer’s work is to simplify the technical jargon and scientific language. His work includes documentation and even the designing of documents. Whatever product or service the company is marketing, a technical writer has to understand what the product is, how it works, its technicalities, the special features of the product or service, its advantages and disadvantages, and present them in a simple language to the user.
Your job will also include making brochures, pamphlets and newsletters, installation guides, providing online help, and dealing with troubleshooting of the documented product.
Technical Interview Questions
What do you understand by technical writing?
Give the definition of technical writing which is, “Technical writing is the process of conveying technical or related information, in an easy-to-understand form, to the end user.”
Do an outline for a document.
Understand the need of the document, and if needed, discuss the various aspects that the document will cover. Then, suggest a general outline with some additional fields that are not present in the standard format.
How will you research on a certain topic?
You should visit reliable websites to learn more about the topic and its related topics. If possible, refer encyclopedias and research papers. If you know an SME (subject-matter expert) of that particular subject, consult him to gather more information.
Have you ever created any user’s guide? Or something similar to it?
If you have created one, explain the steps that you have followed while creating it. If the user guide is available online, then you can produce it as a supporting document.
What points are a must in a pamphlet? What should be avoided?
Your answer must include points like;
- The target audience and the purpose of writing the brochure should be clearly understood.
- The product description should be precise and easily understandable.
- Ambiguous claims and complicated product description should be avoided as it will confuse the end-user.
What are the goals of a Technical writer?
You must elaborate on the following points;
- To help the end users/customers to find suitable technology solutions.
- To create useful documents that provide maximum information related to the subject.
Explain the concept of SDLC and DDLC.
Give the definition of SDLC and DDLC which is, SDLC is the software development life cycle which is a collaboration of a series of steps that provide a model for the development of an application or software. DDLC is the document development life cycle which is a collection of phases used by technical writers to create a good and informative technical document. DDLC runs parallel to SDLC.
How can you write a user manual?
Mention the steps like;
- For writing a user manual, you must know your product first.
- Then, the reason behind writing the manual should be clearly understood, and an audience analysis should be done.
- Further, the manual should contain all necessary sections like table of contents, index, figures, and appendix.
- Once this is done, you must proofread the document and then publish it.
What is meant by Audience Analysis? How do you carry it out?
State the definition as, Audience analysis gives an idea regarding your target audience and will help in writing the manual. First the characteristics of the audience should be known by interacting with the end-users of the product. Then, the educational and professional background of the audience should be studied, in order to know their proficiency level in that particular subject. The purpose of the document can be discussed with the target audience. On the basis of these analysis, the document can be created.
Are you familiar with RoboHelp?
If you are familiar with it then you can share some important aspects of the software.
What is Agile model?
Explain the concept of the model as, Agile model is a methodology for documentation of software-based systems. It is a collection of values and practices for modeling software, that can be used in a software development project. The different agile methodologies are Scrum, Extreme programming, select perspective, velocity tracking, etc.
What do you mean by content management system?
Your answer should include the following points, According to the Business Dictionary, content management system is a software application used to upload, edit, and manage content displayed on a website. A content management system can perform a variety of different tasks for a website including regulating when content is displayed, how many times the content is shown to a specific user, and managing how the content connects or interacts with other elements of the website. This software also enables less technical individuals to manage content on a website easily without having an extensive coding background.
What is collaborative writing? Have you ever been part of such an activity?
State the definition as, Collaborative writing is the creation of a document collectively by many people together rather than one person. If you have been a part of such an activity, you can share your experiences.
Are you familiar with the term DITA?
If you are familiar with the term then you can explain its definition, features, structures, domains, and benefits.
Why did you choose technical writing as your field?
You should highlight your strengths that are a boon for this field like, your command over the English language, and your interest in technology and in research field.
How many documentations can you complete in a day?
This one’s tricky. Keeping your previous working style in mind answer this one. Don’t go overboard with the numbers, just to impress your employer. Mention a number that you are sure to achieve on any given day.
General Interview Questions
Tell me about your most appreciated piece of work.
Give details about the project and how your leadership skills were instrumental in making it a success. Give examples of the new and creative ideas that you have used in order to accomplish the task.
Tell me about yourself.
Keep it short, just the important points like education and prior work experience should be included in the answer.
Have you worked on any on-site projects earlier?
If you have worked on-site, then give details about the project. You can also share your experiences regarding the work culture while you were on-site.
Do you have any experience of technical writing?
Share your experience of working with your previous employers and organizations. You can also highlight the nature of work and your job responsibilities, in brief.
Why did you leave the earlier job?
Be frank. They can surely find out the truth.
Can you strike a balance between end-user’s feedback/suggestions and your independent thinking?
Be frank in answering this one, but make sure you justify your point-of-view to the interviewers.
Are you comfortable working in a team?
You can be honest while answering this but make sure you come across as a flexible and adaptable employee.
What are your strong and weak points?
Mention the ones pertaining to your prospective job.
How do you manage stress?
You can mention a project that you have worked on previously, which was stressful, and explain how you were successful in completing the project, while coping with all the related stress.
What are your long-term career goals? Do you want to make your career in technical writing or are you thinking of a career change?
You can share a few major goals that you have set for yourself and also the plan of action to achieve these goals. For the second part of the question, it is advisable to be modest and give an affirmative answer. However, you can share your other interests as well.
How long can you serve this company?
You can give the exact number of years you wish to serve the organization.
What are your expectations regarding salary? Is the figure negotiable?
Communicate the expected salary figure firmly to the employer. Always be open to negotiations regarding salary.
Do you think it is necessary to update your knowledge in this field? How would you do so?
Updating one’s knowledge is essential in any field. It helps you to keep up with the changing trends in the industry. If you are well-versed with the changes in your field, then highlight them and focus on the importance of learning those new skills.
As a part of the interview process, the employer may ask you to write a manual or short essay on one of their products. You may also be asked to edit and rewrite documents related to one of the company’s products or services or on any generalized topic.
Technical Writer Job Description
It will be easier to face the interview, if you are fully aware of what the job is, and what skills are required for a technical writer’s job. This is a field where people with different aptitudes are welcome, as this job is based mainly on the flair for writing; to be precise, writing technical stuff in simple words. The skills required for this job are; writing, presentation, at least a bit of technical knowledge, and computer literacy. You should also be able to think clearly, because if you are not sure of what you are writing, your audience will never understand what you are trying to convey. This job may seem easy, but it is not exactly so. You have to understand the product and also be able to pursue your clients. No layman should have any difficulty in understanding the product, including its technical aspects. And that is very difficult. So, you should be able to write the content in a simple way, without losing its technical meaning.
Technical writing is a very good opportunity for people who are looking out for something different. Just be confident and the job will be yours! All the best!
Disclaimer: This CareerStint article is for informative/reference purposes only, as some of the questions may vary according to the area, country/state laws, and cultural norms.