A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Technical writers have no formal professional certification to demonstrate their expertise. If you need a position as a documentation specialist, how do you present yourself as a qualified, quality applicant? Here are a few articles that should help you.



Nondirected Interviews: How to Get More Out of Your Research Questions

As user experience designers, a key component to nearly all the techniques we use in our practice is the one-on-one interview. It's the basis of requirements gathering, usability testing, and task analysis. In order to remove our personal biases, expectations and opinions from the questions asked, I practice a kind of questioning technique called the nondirected interview. The questions asked are at the heart of any interview. Following are a loose set of guidelines to help you frame questions in a way that elicits honest and accurate responses.

Kuniavsky, Mike. Adaptive Path (2002). Articles>User Centered Design>Interviewing>Usability


Nondirected Interviews: How to Get More Out of Your Research Questions

As user experience designers, a key component to nearly all the techniques we use in our practice is the one-on-one interview. It’s the basis of requirements gathering, usability testing, and task analysis. In order to remove our personal biases, expectations and opinions from the questions asked, I practice a kind of questioning technique called the nondirected interview.

Kuniavsky, Mike. Adaptive Path (2002). Articles>Interviewing>User Experience>Research


Notes for Job Seekers in UI Design

Looking for jobs is tough. I remember when I looked for my first industry job about ten years ago, how frustrating a process it was. I had everything to prove, and every desire to prove it, but few opportunities to do so. And worse, by the time I graduated in May of 94', all of my friends were gone: they moved away in response to job offers. Many of them had jobs lined up before the spring semester even started. Meanwhile I struggled to find good interviews, and maintain the work needed to graduate on time. I think most people, especially students, underestimate how much energy job searching requires, and there really isn’t that much honest guidance on how to be smart in going about it. This essay is an attempt to offer some good advice - the kind I wish I had back in 94'. If you find it useful, please pass it on to other job seekers you know, or if you’re in school, to professors and other students. If you have other suggestions to add, please let me know.

Berkun, Scott. ScottBerkun.com (2003). Careers>Usability>Interviewing


The Number One Mistake People I Interview Are Making These Days

Whether we spent thirty minutes meeting in the offices; we Skyped because you're abroad for your Junior spring semester; or we did a quick first-round phone interview, too many people are forgetting to follow up later that day or the next day with a quick email.

Liebman, Jessica. Business Insider, The (2012). Careers>Business Communication>Correspondence>Interviewing


Obtaining Information Through Interviewing   (PDF)

In every organization, people are the primary sources of information. The technical communicator interacts with people to collect knowledge about the organization's products and procedures. Through interviews, the communicator queries sources and documents how people accomplish tasks. The communicator “mines” information by chiseling out the facts. The information miner must practice the art of asking questions, observing actions, and recording answers and observattbns. In this task, the tech&al communicator acts as a reporter. This workshop teaches skills in informational interviewing, based on the principles ofjournalistic interviewing. The guidelines apply to everyday interviewing situations.

Strickland, Charlene J. STC Proceedings (1997). Articles>Interviewing


On Taking Notes

I have been remiss at writing new content for this blog, and whilst this topic isn’t one that I said I’d post about (those posts are coming, I promise), it’s something I was discussing yesterday and so is at the forefront of my mind. Like many people I still use pen and paper when taking notes, and regardless of the type of meeting I stick with three basic categories.

McLean, Gordon. One Man Writes (2009). Articles>Interviewing>Writing


Pay Full Attention To People

Don’t do any analysis during an interview because you want the person who is talking to feel comfortable opening up, so you can get those underlying explanations.

Young, Indi. Johnny Holland (2012). Articles>Collaboration>Interviewing


Phone Interview

A semi-structured or structured interview that is conducted over a phone or Internet audio line. Phone interviews can supplement other HCI methods and allow HCI specialists to follow users over an extended time.

Usability Body of Knowledge. Resources>Usability>Interviewing


Phone Interviews: New Skills Required   (PDF)

Suggests how technical communicators can excel at the increasingly common practice of interviewing by phone.

Ford, Donna A. Intercom (2002). Articles>Interviewing


Portfolios: Tools for Acing the Interview   (PDF)

Molisani explains how technical communicators can use their portfolios to take charge of an interview.

Molisani, Jack. Intercom (2003). Careers>Portfolios>Interviewing


Prepare to Take Charge of the Interview

Don’t be misled by the word interview. It’s not about sitting down and passively answering questions. A successful media interaction requires preparation, and it requires the spokesperson to take charge. I don’t mean dominating or monopolising the conversation, but taking responsibility for the success of the exchange — for both the journalist and the spokesperson. Here are a few suggestions you can make to help your spokesperson prepare to take charge.

Gibson, Barbara. WordPress (2006). Articles>Interviewing>Public Relations


Preparing for User Research Interviews: Seven Things to Remember

Interviewing is an artful skill that is at the core of a wide variety of research methods in user-centered design, including stakeholder interviews, contextual inquiry, usability testing, and focus groups. Consequently, a researcher’s skill in conducting interviews has a direct impact on the quality and accuracy of research findings and subsequent decisions about design. Skilled interviewers can conduct interviews that uncover the most important elements of a participant’s perspective on a task or a product in a manner that does not introduce interviewer bias. Companies hire user researchers and user-centered designers because they possess this very ability.

Hawley, Michael. UXmatters (2008). Articles>Interviewing>Usability>User Centered Design


Professional Interviews: A Few Brief Tips

Here are a few brief, practical tips for preparing for your first interview.

beyondwords (2008). Careers>Interviewing


Question Negotiation and the Technological Environment   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The information world is a very different place in 2003 than it was a few years ago. It is possible, for example, to find information more quickly and easily than ever before, using new tools, and drawing on sources of information unavailable or even nonexistent not so very long ago. People seeking answers or providing them now have many more options for 'question negotiation', in the broadest Tayloresque sense. Consulting an information professional continues to be one of those options. In fact, such professionals can now be much more accessible via these new tools and technologies.

Janes, Joseph and Joanne Silverstein. D-Lib Magazine (2003). Articles>Interviewing>TC


Questions for Designers

Anne-Marie "HerGeekness" Concepcion wrote about 'Telling Questions' prospective design employers may ask the job applicant. Some of the questions are obvious -- others not so. So, we teamed up with Anne-Marie to find out if YOU can correctly answer these Questions for Designers.

Concepcion, Anne-Marie. Design, Typography and Graphics (2006). Careers>Interviewing>Graphic Design


Recruiting a Quality Technical Communicator   (PDF)

In this technical communicator’s market the average time it takes for a professional to get hired in less than 30 days. Due to the short time these professionals are on the market hiring managers, in order to find and quickly bring on board quality people, may need to adjust their expectations and their hiring strategy.

Murphy, Stephen W. STC Proceedings (2000). Careers>Interviewing


Resume Secrets That Might Surprise You   (PDF)   (members only)

Molisani gives 10 secrets about your resume and its potential audience to help you target it better and get more interviews.

Molisani, Jack. Intercom (2010). Careers>Resumes>Interviewing


Sample Thank You Letters

The thank you letter is one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of job hunting. Don’t fall in to the trap of thinking it isn’t important. A handwritten note is best but a thoughtful email will suffice. And like your resume, your thank you letter should be customized to reflect the mood and content of the interview.

Monster.com (2001). Careers>Interviewing>Correspondence>Business Communication


The Samples Conundrum   (PDF)

Olive examines the ethical and practical problems associated with providing writing samples to potential employers and suggests possible solutions to these problems.

Olive, Eric G. Intercom (2001). Careers>Interviewing>Ethics


Secil Watson Tells Jesse James Garrett About Experience Design at Wells Fargo

When I joined the company, they were making the transition from being an online servicing group, where people could access their accounts and check their balances, to one where they could start a relationship with their customers, through selling anything from checking accounts to brokerage accounts to services on those accounts.

Watson, Secil and Jesse James Garrett. Adaptive Path (2008). Articles>Interviewing>User Experience>Case Studies


Secret’s in the Source: Gathering Useful Source Content

We web writers like talking about bulleted lists. And keeping things short. And cake. But for whatever reason, we don’t talk much about source content. We should. Because no matter how short our paragraphs, or how bulleted our lists, or how cake-filled our mouths, if we don’t start with good source content, we’re screwed.

Saloka, Elizabeth. Brain Traffic (2010). Articles>Writing>Research>Interviewing


Secrets of Successful Interviewing   (PDF)

To conduct a successful interview, you must create a comfortable atmosphere, provide an honest review of the job requirements, and probe into the candidate’s qualifications and experience. By asking appropriate, focused questions and engaging the candidate in both detailed and general dialog, you should be able to gather enough information about the candidate to either eliminate him/her or move forward with the hiring process.

Hartman, Peter J. STC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Interviewing


Security Breach!

People who are studying technical communication in school should also take courses in detective work and investigative journalism, because all tech writers are really detectives and reporters.

Brooke, Andrew. Tech Writer's World, A (2010). Articles>Interviewing>Technical Writing


Selling to the Hidden Job Market   (PDF)

Describes ways that technical communicators looking for work can identify and pursue job leads before the openings are publicized.

O'Donnell, Pat. Intercom (2004). Careers>Interviewing>Marketing


Setting Up Business Stakeholder Interviews Part 2

In part one, Michael shared how to navigate company politics to set up great stakeholder interviews. Here he covers his five tips for navigating company politics, avoiding client bias, and eliciting the information you need to inform your design.

Beavers, Michael. Boxes and Arrows (2007). Articles>Interviewing>Project Management>User Centered Design



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