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Technical Writer Intern Interview Questions

The interview will likely consist of several questions to assess the candidate's understanding of technical writing concepts, their experience in writing technical documentation, and their ability to work in a team environment. The interviewer may ask about specific technical writing tools and software the candidate has used, as well as their experience writing user guides, technical manuals, and other forms of technical documentation. The candidate may also be asked to provide writing samples or participate in a writing exercise to demonstrate their skills. The interview may also cover the candidate's workflow and project management skills, as well as their ability to communicate technical information to a variety of audiences.

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Interviewer: Good morning, thank you for coming in today. Can you start by telling me a little bit about your background and experience in technical writing?

Candidate: Hi, thanks for having me. I’ve completed a technical writing course at ABC community college where I’ve learnt about various document creation tools such as MadCap Flare, FrameMaker and Microsoft Word. Additionally, I have an internship experience with XYZ company where I created various user manuals.

Interviewer: That's great. Can you walk me through your process for gathering information from subject matter experts?

Candidate: Sure. I usually set up a meeting with subject matter experts to discuss the content I need to create. I share my document template with them and ask for feedback on language, scope, and placement of information.

Interviewer: How do you ensure that the documentation you create is accurate and comprehensive?

Candidate: I always double-check my work with subject matter experts to ensure that everything I’ve included is accurate and comprehensive.

Interviewer: Can you provide an example of a particularly challenging technical document you've had to create, and how did you overcome any obstacles?

Candidate: The most challenging document I have created was a product manual for a new software product XYZ. The software was so new that all the subject matter experts were still unfamiliar with it. I overcame this obstacle by involving the software development team in every stage of the documentation process.

Interviewer: Can you describe how you ensure that the language in your technical documents is clear and easy for non-technical individuals to understand?

Candidate: I always keep my audience in mind while creating my documents. To ensure the language is easy to understand, I try to avoid technical jargon and overly complex technical concepts, using simple examples to explain complex topics.

Interviewer: How do you go about identifying problems in existing documentation and improving it?

Candidate: First, I’ll review the document closely to identify areas that could be improved. Then, I'll speak with end-users who are familiar with the document and gather feedback on what changes they’d like to see in it. Then I'll update it accordingly.

Interviewer: Can you tell me about a time where you had to meet a tight deadline for a technical document? How did you manage your time?

Candidate: I had to create a product manual for a software product launch that was scheduled for the next day. I prioritized the most critical sections of the manual and worked on them first, then moved on to the less-critical parts. I ended up meeting the deadline with time to spare.

Interviewer: How familiar are you with different publishing tools, such as Adobe InDesign or RoboHelp?

Candidate: I’ve had experience using MadCap Flare, Microsoft Word, and some experience with Adobe InDesign.

Interviewer: How would you go about explaining a complex technical concept to a non-technical team member?

Candidate: I would break it down into simpler terms that they can understand by using everyday examples that help illustrate the point clearly.

Interviewer: Can you discuss how you approach collaborating with other technical writers or cross-functional team members?

Candidate: When collaborating with other technical writers or cross-functional team members, I prefer to use a collaborative document tool to share drafts and updated documents to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Interviewer: Can you give an example of how you've incorporated feedback from stakeholders into your documentation?

Candidate: While working on a software manual, I received feedback from subject matter experts that the manual wasn’t comprehensive enough. To address these concerns, I incorporated additional examples and descriptive language to make it more informative.

Interviewer: Can you tell me about a project where you had to work with a team of writers to create a technical document? How did you manage collaboration?

Candidate: When working on a team, I make sure each writer is assigned a specific part of the document to work on. We then collaborate by sharing our work to make sure that each section fits together smoothly and collectively form a cohesive document.

Interviewer: How do you go about staying up-to-date with the latest trends and techniques in technical writing?

Candidate: I make sure to read as many industry publications and blogs as possible to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and new techniques.

Interviewer: Finally, can you share with me your greatest strength as a technical writer?

Candidate: I am a very detail-oriented writer and strive to ensure that all documentation that I produce is high-quality, accurate, and easy to understand.

Scenario Questions

1. Scenario: You are tasked with writing a technical manual for a new software product. The manual needs to be written for both technical and non-technical audiences. How would you approach this task?

Candidate Answer: I would start with an outline of the manual, where I identify the main sections and subsections that need to be covered. Then, I would use clear and concise language, avoiding technical jargon whenever possible. I would also consider including visuals such as screenshots or diagrams to help explain technical concepts. Finally, I would have someone who is not familiar with the product review the manual to ensure it is easy to understand for non-technical users.

2. Scenario: You are working on a product manual and the development team is continuing to make changes to the product as you are writing. How would you handle this situation?

Candidate Answer: I would communicate regularly with the development team to stay updated on any changes to the product. I would also create a version control system to keep track of revisions made to the manual. This would help me ensure that the manual accurately reflects any changes to the product.

3. Scenario: You are tasked with writing a user guide for a new product. How would you go about structuring this guide?

Candidate Answer: I would start with an overview of the product and its features, followed by a section on how to set up the product. Then, I would include sections on how to use the product, troubleshooting common problems, and resources for getting additional help. Throughout the guide, I would use headings and bullet points to make the information easily scannable and searchable.

4. Scenario: You are working on a technical document that needs to be translated into multiple languages. How would you ensure accuracy and consistency across all translations?

Candidate Answer: I would work with professional translators who are fluent in the target languages to ensure accuracy. To ensure consistency, I would create a style guide that provides guidelines for formatting, terminology, and tone across all translations. Finally, I would have a proofreader review all translations to ensure they meet high quality standards.

5. Scenario: You have been tasked with creating a knowledge base for a software product. How would you prioritize what information to include in the knowledge base?

Candidate Answer: I would start by gathering data about the most common questions and issues that users have encountered with the product. I would use this data to prioritize the most important information to include in the knowledge base. I would also conduct user testing to ensure the information is presented in a clear and intuitive way. Finally, I would regularly update the knowledge base to reflect any changes to the product.
Sample numeric data for any relevant question specifications:
Question: You are tasked with writing a user guide for a new product. Can you provide an estimate of the document's word count?
Candidate Answer: Based on my past experience, I would estimate the word count for a user guide to be between 5,000 and 10,000 words, depending on the complexity of the product and the level of detail required. However, I would need more information about the product to provide a more accurate estimate.
Other question specifications needed:
It is important to ask technical writer intern candidates about their experience with technical writing and editing, as well as their familiarity with technical tools and software. Some specific questions might include:
1. What types of technical documents have you written in the past?
2. How familiar are you with using style guides and templates?
3. Have you used any documentation tools or software, such as Adobe FrameMaker or MadCap Flare?
4. How do you approach editing and proofreading your own writing?
5. Can you provide an example of a time when you had to explain a technical concept to a non-technical audience? How did you approach this?