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.



Documentation Through the Discovery Process   (PDF)

The technical writers at a software company learn about the software by gathering information and running the software themselves.

Kloss, Marilyn B. STC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Documentation>Interviewing


During the Interview

Remember that when you speak to a reporter, you're potentially speaking to an audience of hundreds or thousands of people. Try not to appear negative or confrontational. A hostile attitude will make it difficult for viewers to take your point seriously.

Media-Awareness.ca. Articles>Interviewing>Video


Effective Interviewing: Get the Story   (PDF)

In this article, Geoffrey Hart offers the following tips on how to interview a subject matter expert (SME) for reliable, comprehensive, timely information:

Hart, Geoffrey J.S. Intercom (2000). Articles>Interviewing>Collaboration


Eleven Tips for Getting Great References

It's often the final hurdle to getting a job and the point of the interview process when employers look for information they can't get from your resume or during an interview. Here's everything you need to know about references -- from whom to ask to how to ask them -- to guarantee you get rave reviews.

Krieger, Elizabeth. iVillage.com (2001). Careers>Interviewing


The Emotionally Challenging, Open-Ended Interview   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

For most job candidates, the interview experience is "an emotionally challenging endeavor". To succeed in interviews, candidates must understand the emotional labor needed to "manage their feelings" as they "create a publicly observable facial and bodily display". This is particularly true when recruiters use open-ended interviews that are not constrained to a narrow set of questions. My work in conducting research interviews illustrates several aspects of emotional labor in the interview context. Although I will talk from the perspective of the interviewer, my discussion of my own emotional labor is instructive for people entering an open-ended interview as either interviewer or interviewee because the challenges of emotional labor within the open-ended interview context apply to either interview role. Additionally, although I will draw on examples of datagathering interviews within a research context, this discussion of emotional labor applies to any interview setting--research, job interview, and so on--because the difficulties one encounters are similar across various open-ended interview situations.

Hoffmann, Elizabeth A. Business Communication Quarterly (2008). Careers>Interviewing


Employee Conferences That Matter

A troupe of disco dancers in gold bodysuits was about to hit the stage. Several of our corporate leaders—dressed as famous pop stars from the 1970s—milled around nervously in the wings. And I remember thinking, “What the heck have we got ourselves into?” I was part of the employee communication team for a government-owned financial institution: Farm Credit Canada (FCC). We were about to open our 2005 corporate office conference before a crowd of 500 people, many of them accountants. A campy musical opening could be seen as a risky choice. But here's what brought me peace of mind: I knew that behind the glitz, we had built our conference on a solid foundation of business thinking.

Mayne, Peter. Communication World Bulletin (2006). Articles>Business Communication>Interviewing


Evaluating a Job Offer

Once you receive a job offer, you must decide if you want the job. Fortunately, most organizations will give you a few days to accept or reject an offer. There are many issues to consider when assessing a job offer. Will the organization be a good place to work? Will the job be interesting? Are there opportunities for advancement? Is the salary fair? Does the employer offer good benefits? Now is the time to ask the potential employer about these issues—and to do some checking on your own.

U.S. Department of Labor (2007). Careers>Interviewing


Explaining the Value of Technical Communication on the Job Search   (PDF)

This presentation will provide techniques technical communicators can use to sell themselves to prospective employers who don't understand what technical communicators can do for them.

Castner, Joanna. STC Atlanta (2005). Careers>Interviewing>TC


Extracting Pearls from Other People's Brains: The Art of Interviewing

Perhaps one of the bigger challenges faced by white paper writers is coming up with good content. The default course of action is to do a Google search. While this approach can yield valuable information, the best pearls reside inside someone else's head.

Stelzner, Michael A. WhitePaperSource (2006). Articles>Interviewing>Research>White Papers


Face to Face With Your Users: Running a Nondirected Interview

An interview is a funny situation. It's like a friendly conversation between strangers, but unlike the kind you may have on the bus. When chatting on the bus, people try very hard to agree with each other and to quickly communicate interesting information. Each person wants to be liked and adjusts the way they speak and what they say so as not to offend. This type of exchange is perfectly fine for maintaining civil society -- deeper exchanges can always happen as an acquaintance deepens -- but shallow banter isn't appropriate for an interview. You need to find out what someone is experiencing, what they're thinking, or what their real opinions are.

Kuniavsky, Mike. Adaptive Path (2003). Articles>User Centered Design>Interviewing>Usability


Finding That First Job   (PDF)

Offers suggestions on finding work in technical communication for recent college graduates, professionals in other fields, and those who want to add documentation duties to their current jobs.

Block, Barbara M. Intercom (2001). Careers>Interviewing>TC


Finding the Right Technical Writer

A no-nonsense approach to finding a great tech writer, even when you don't know what to look for.

Springsteen, JoAnna. CIO Magazine (2008). Careers>Management>Interviewing>Technical Writing


Five Secrets to Successful Interviewing and Hiring

Frequently, technical communicators who have been promoted into management find themselves facing the need to interview candidates for open positions. While successful interviewing is key to finding the right match for open positions in the department, all too often interviewing skills are not a part of any management training programs that the interviewer may have completed - if management training was ever part of the technical communicator's career development program at all. This article unveils the secrets to successful interviewing and hiring.

O'Keefe, Karen. Writing Assistance (2006). Careers>Interviewing>Management


Five Secrets to Successful Interviewing and Hiring

The technical communications profession involves a unique mix of technical and communication skills, which is not easy to find. Most managers have had the experience of interviewing and subsequently hiring a candidate who later turns out not to be the right person for the job. This situation begs the question of how to identify which candidate is a good fit for a given position. The answer is that there are five key activities that make the difference between a successful hiring decision and a not-so-successful one. We have all been on both sides of the interview, and this article will attempt to make you, the interviewer, more successful.

O'Keefe, Karen. TechCom Manager (2004). Careers>Management>Interviewing


Focus Groups or Individual Interviews? A Comparison of Text Evaluation Approaches   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

By providing an empirical comparison of two evaluation approaches, this article aims to make it easier to choose between focus groups and individual interviews as a way of evaluating documents, and thereby to contribute to a methodology of text evaluation. The article first presents the relevant literature and then moves on to present the results of the authors' experiment. The authors find that focus groups tended to identify acceptance problems, while individual interview participants focused on comprehension.

de Jong, Menno D.T. and Peter Jan Schellens. Technical Communication Online (1998). Articles>Interviewing>Methods


Four Seconds of Silence

Here’s a quick tip for you as you conduct your goal-directed interviews with users and potential users: Leave a four-second pause after your interviewee pauses their response, allowing them to add more information or additional detail.

Noessel, Chris. Cooper Journal (2009). Articles>Interviewing>Ethnographies


Four Small Things You Can Do To Be An Exceptional Communicator

After spending 25 years in the FBI as a special agent in the area of counterintelligence (catching spies), you learn a thing or two about dealing with people. You learn that what motivates people is not your words but your body language. You can’t get someone to trust you just because you say so, you have to demonstrate it.

Navarro, Joe. Dumb Little Man (2010). Articles>Communication>Interviewing


General Guidelines for Conducting Interviews

Interviews are particularly useful for getting the story behind a participant's experiences. The interviewer can pursue in-depth information around a topic. Interviews may be useful as follow-up to certain respondents to questionnaires, e.g., to further investigate their responses. Usually open-ended questions are asked during interviews. Before you start to design your interview questions and process, clearly articulate to yourself what problem or need is to be addressed using the information to be gathered by the interviews. This helps you keep clear focus on the intent of each question.

McNamara, Carter. Management Assistance Program for Nonprofits (1999). Careers>Interviewing


Getting a Technical Writing Job, Even If You Have No Experience   (Word)

Technical writing jobs can be hard to get if you have little or no experience. But there are things you can do to improve your chances of getting hired.

Docsymmetry. Careers>TC>Interviewing>Technical Writing


Going into Listening Phase

I’m going into a listening phase for a client, where I observe their customers and partners habits online. I thought I’d write up some of my techniques.

Gentle, Anne. Just Write Click (2010). Articles>Interviewing>Advice


Group Interviews as Source for Writing Proposals

Group interviews can be an effective means for collecting information for competitive proposals. Many knowledgeable people who are phobic about writing will talk freely during a group interview. In addition, people who consider themselves too busy to write a section of a proposal may be amenable to committing 2 - 3 hours to a technical or project management interview.

Kendrick, Jim. Competitive Communication Methods (1998). Articles>Interviewing>Proposals


Guide Lines to Become Better than the Rest

The acronym GD stands for Group Discussion and has now become as interview in professional and academic circles. The basic aim of the Group Discussion is to evaluate the effectiveness of the candidate in a group activity. This effectiveness is judged through the leadership qualities and the communication skills displayed.

Kerala Education. Articles>Usability>Interviewing>Focus Groups


Hello?...The Art of the Telephone Interview   (members only)

Remember when interviewing meant dressing up, grabbing your best samples, and heading over to meet your potential employer face to face? Today the industry trend is to conduct most first interviews over the telephone. With the emergence of telecommuting and a global workforce, I don't see the trend toward telephone interviews going away any time soon.

Davis, Douglas W. STC (2007). Careers>Interviewing


Hiring a Technical Writer   (Word)

Hiring a technical writer can be tricky, even if you happen to be one. Where can you find a technical writer? What characteristics should you look for? How can you tell a good writer from a bad one?

Docsymmetry. Careers>Management>Interviewing


Hiring Contract Technical Writers

When you finally get the approval to hire a contract technical writer you'll want to go about it the right way in order to avoid problems and ensure success. This article provides insight on what you need to do before you start looking for a contract technical writing professional and how to go about finding one suitable for your project.

Hartmann, Scott. Writing Assistance (2006). Careers>Interviewing>TC>Technical Writing



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