How to Judge a Candidate’s Writing Personality
Have you ever assessed a candidate’s writing skills? Many times, we speak with job candidates on the phone to gather their work history, and then we meet with them in person to assess their personality. We get a feel for their behavioral strengths and weaknesses and learn if they would fit into a company’s culture. But what about a candidate’s writing personality?
Employers need job candidates who know how to write persuasively and succinctly. In today’s fast paced working world, it is essential that your employees know at a very minimum how to write and effectively respond to email correspondence, use social media, take specific and detailed notes in various CRM programs, write company memos, and learn how to present information in an interesting and engaging fashion. Some jobs require sharper writing skills over others, but almost all jobs now require some form of professional writing skills.
You can’t always gauge a prospect’s professional writing skills by reading over their cover letter, resume, and thank you letter follow-ups because most of the time, these documents use templates or could even be written by someone else, such as a professional writing service. So how do you evaluate a candidate’s writing personality? Depending on the job position, you can ask candidates for extra documentation. For example, if it’s a sales position, ask the candidate for a brag book. Not only will it show his or her accomplishments, it will show that they can organize information succinctly and present their work professionally. If it’s a marketing position, ask a prospect to bring in their portfolio. It may contain high-level projects or examples of creative briefs they have written. If it’s a customer service position, a candidate could bring in examples of customer correspondence. If it’s an executive assistant position, he or she can show you an example of meeting notes. To properly judge a candidate for employment, you want to see past work experience in action. If a candidate does not have any past proof, it could be a warning sign that they either are fabricating their work experience, or are not savvy enough to keep proper documentation.
If you wish to give your candidate the benefit of the doubt, and even if they have a portfolio or brag book to show you and you want more examples, you could administer a short and simple writing test during the interview process. Ask them to write down how they would respond to an email that you give them. Or ask them to rework a paragraph to make it read better. If it’s in the creative realm, give them a creative brief, or a print ad, and ask them to write their own advertisement. Or you can pick a topic within the industry and have the prospect write briefly about it. If a candidate has strong writing skills, then both the interviewer and interviewee will not only have fun with this exercise; it will make both parties feel more confident that they are the right fit for the job.
Writing shows that the candidate has grasped specific subject matter. A candidate may be able to hide behind a charismatic personality, but his or her writing always reveals true character. A quick writing test could make all the difference between a candidate that understands your business, and one that is just pretending to.