When evaluating candidates for technical support positions, one of the requirements is that the candidate must be able to communicate well with the developers and the clients. So, as an interviewer, it is my job -- in the span of half an hour -- to test whether a candidate can write clear, effective test cases and technical report.

In your experience, are there any questions I can ask or simulations the candidates can perform in order to test his or her writing skills in this area, within the bounds of the interview setting?

  • 1
    Do you ask them to bring samples, the way developers might ask for code samples and tech writers might ask for writing samples? Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 14:50
  • Can you enumerate the responsibilities of the position you're interviewing for a little more? You mention test cases and technical reports here and "customer support" elsewhere. Are these people that take phone call / bug reports from customers, log information and communicate that information to developers? Or is it more than that?
    – Jacob G
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 15:25
  • @JacobG, yes, that's basically it. The candidates must be able to elicit clear requirements and bug steps from the customers.
    – Graviton
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 1:37

3 Answers 3


When teaching students a skill teachers use the following guideline: If the homework takes the teacher X minutes to do, it will take the best student 2X minutes and the average student 3X minutes.

If the goal is to see "whether a candidate can write clear, effective test cases/ technical report.", make sure that the scope of the task can be done in the 30 minutes. They will not know your code base, that 30 minutes includes giving them the instructions and the task. They will not be able to include screen captures, and references to previous requirements or features.

You might have have a series of common applications/web pages, and ask them to pick one they use regularly. (gmail, stack exchange, facebook, twitter...). Then tell them that you are customer of the developer, and that you want to add a feature to the current application. Then ask them to write the use case so that it can be sent to the developers.

By having them pick a program they use a lot they will not need as much time to familiarize them selves with the application.

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    This can also morph into an exercise where they have to get the information from you through an interviewing process, so you are testing their ability to gather information as well as comunicate it. JUst make sure to pick a suitably small process and allow for nervousness in judging how they did.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 20:21

The resume is a great test. It won't guarantee an ability to write (someone else can write it) but if it's written poorly, you can be sure it's not by accident.

To test presentation skills, I've asked people to give a presentation during the interview process.

To test someone's writing skills, you can ask for a sample of their work. (Or school assignment if they're a college hire) Then ask them about the topic during the interview. If they know the topic, they probably wrote it themselves. And it can give you some insight into what interests them.


One thing you could ask is to write a document on a technical project the candidate worked on previously (either as a school project or a previous job), and ask him to report the most difficult challenges he met while working on the project.

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