Technical Writer Interview Tips

Technical writer interviews are for qualified specialists in their fields. They're technically qualified people who produce reports, analyses and technical data on a range of subjects across many areas. Some of the most common areas are business, industry and the sciences. These writers are  usually employed to prepare technical papers, and often to work with raw data, both as writers and researchers. In many cases they may be required to compile their papers from scratch.

Technical writer interview basics

Technical writer interviews are conducted by experts, usually division managers and senior technical staff. Their primary responsibility in the interview is specifically to guarantee suitability of the selected candidate.

A technical writer is required to demonstrate appropriate skill levels in technical writing.  The need for very clear proof of skill levels and technical standards is a primary consideration.

Like all writers, technical writers have a portfolio of work which is a valuable asset in interviews. Selection of materials for the interview must be meticulous, covering all essential aspects of the job. Presentation of materials is also very important. Interviewees and must be able to present their material at a high professional standard. Portfolio materials must be selected to show clear, irrefutable evidence of industry standard published works.

Interview questions and answers

  • Question: Give us an outline of your previous work writing biological papers.
  • Answer: I've written for several research institutions dealing with project papers and data. This is a published paper I did on E Coli. For ABCD Labs.

Answer explanation: The question is asking for evidence of prior publication and technical standards, which the paper provides. 

  • Question: What formal work have you done in IT data management consultancies?
  • Answer: I worked with a data systems design consultancy called XYZ Data Services preparing their presentation materials. This was all system analysis, modeling, and creating solutions. The clients required full reports of the analysis, system proposals, and technical specifications. This is a sample of one of the more advanced jobs I did for XYZ.

Answer explanation: This question is actually several questions. Preparation of this type of paper is a formal writing process with very demanding requirements for content and standards of presentation. The answer covers all aspects of the question. 

  • Question: We use online presentations to showcase our services to the industry. We require both multimedia and online text content. Our writer will also have to prepare the technical specifications documentation and information content.
  • Answer: I have experience in Flash, Adobe, Dreamweaver, and other platforms. I have done similar work, for ABCD Online I had to prepare the technical documentation, and format it for the online presentations. I included a link to the site in my resume attachments.

Answer explanation: This question is tougher than it looks.  The question needs to document all aspects of this part of the technical writer's job in both required roles. Because the position is providing the basis of the online work, the two different roles are inseparable. The only correct answer must document proven skills in both areas simultaneously. Failure to do so is instant disqualification from the position.