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SUMMARY: Good writing is fundamentally good thinking. However, interview processes rarely assess writing competency qualitatively or quantitatively: that is, evaluating clarity, cohesion and coherence. Interviewing for potential should include a writing competency assessment. Assessment supports native and non-native English speakers assess candidates.
The interview process can be complex and demanding, both for interviewee and interviewer. Depending upon the position, the process may involve physical and online interviews, social and formal meetings, tests, and assessments. Furthermore, for those whom English is a second language, assessing writing skills is near impossible: a language certificate is not a guarantee of writing competency.
While much emphasis is placed upon experience, qualifications and potential, one aspect rarely targeted is writing competency. Part of the reason is its challenging nature; what metric is measured and how is it quantified? If a candidate is asked to write a report, and the assessor states they understand it and a manager declares it factually accurate, is this an adequate writing assessment?
Over the last few years, I have been developing a method to assess and grade writing. Stating a writer has faults or their style requires attention is simple: faults may include the quantifiable (grammar and spelling) and the vague (style is subjective). Having objective parameters requires both foundation and criterion from which advice can be sought. Take the following example:
➤ A great dinner. Fantastic food and very cozy atmosphere. The whole service was excellent. I hope we can return to Bristol and repeat the Chefs table experience.
While it could be considered understandable, it has a number of issues:
■ lacks flow
■ disjointed subjects
■ lacks depth
■ requires tightening
If this were a report, the reader needs to gather the various subjects, assess and order, then make sense of the information. While less problematic here, a longer text would exacerbate the issue: readability must be forefront when writing. Even with a short sample, its structure can provide clues about the writer.
Recognising potential is challenging but, experience and a robust data gathering approach helps and supports recruiters, managers and colleagues during the decision making process: writing skills are an asset worth investing in.
Furthermore, assessing and grading writing enables targeted improvements. If a candidate has potential, understanding weaknesses and omissions, in addition to capabilities allows the good-fit to become a better-fit.
Do you believe a connection exists between good leadership and writing?
Should writing skills be assessed?
If you would like to find out more about writing assessment, just ask!