In the modern professional workplace, writing is a big part of each and every day. From countless emails sent out from business email addresses, to the written reports that are presented to the Board, you simply can't escape the necessity for strong written communication skills. Yet every day, weak writers are still getting hired and put into positions where their poor abilities are costing businesses money.
In fact, research shows that the remedial writing training industry is booming--raking in more than $3B+ annually from organizations who send their current employees and new hires to work on improving their writing skills. This begs the question: Isn't there a better way to screen candidates' writing abilities in the hiring process, so that better, more effective writers are the ones getting the job offers?
How to Hire Better Writers
The simple answer to that question is, "Yes, there is." Let's look at a few best practices for testing and analyzing interview candidates' writing skills before you make a job offer.
1. Conduct a Writing Exercise
Having a candidate complete a writing exercise as part of the interview process allows you to see what his or her writing abilities are like on the spot. Make sure the exercise is related to the type of work he or she will be doing so you can spot any red flags that spotlight lack of job-related expertise, too. For example, if you're hiring a new Public Relations Manager, have the candidate write a sample press release for you.
2. Ask for a Portfolio
Traditionally, you wouldn't ask a white collar candidate to showcase a portfolio of written work for any job other than one within the communications department. But asking all in-office candidates to share some prepared writing samples can actually help you better screen applicants. You'll spend less time cringing over poorly constructed emails sent out with your brand name on it--and you'll save time editing their reports.
3. Ask Writing-Related Questions
Don't forget to let candidates self-assess their writing skills, too. Asking questions about how confident an applicant feels about his or her writing abilities allows you to gauge how much writing training will be required upon hiring. Sometimes, weak writers will openly admit their shortfalls in the writing department--but the strong hires will be the ones who are open to learning and improving.
Strive to Hire Strong Writers
When you work toward hiring a workforce of great writers, you get more benefits than you'd even expect. Those who can write and communicate well are more effective at sharing their ideas, working with others, and expressing concepts in a simple and clear format. When choosing between two close candidates, opt for the better writer.