Technical writing is an evolving field. Lucrative monetary benefits are attracting more and more enthusiastic people to choose technical writing as a career option.

In this blog, we have listed some of the most popular technical writer interview questions and answers.

1. According to you, what is the typical daily function of a technical writer?

Generally, the day starts with preparing a documentation plan which includes the publication requirement and expectation. This is followed by preparation of a questionnaire. Then the SME is interviewed. After gathering all the relevant information, the first draft of the document is done. Revisions are made as and when required as per the suggestion of the editor. After the document gets finalised, it is published.

2. What is a white paper?

A white paper is an authoritative technical report or guide that conveys technical information concisely and clearly. It presents a complex issue in simpler terms. It explains how a technology works. It may include information on how that particular technology was developed as well.

3. How is MS Word and Framemaker different?

MS Word or Microsoft Word is a word processing program. It has applications in writing of all forms of our daily life such as a letter, blog, memo, etc. It is very easy to use.

Framemaker or Adobe Framemaker helps to produce large and complex business documents. It is suitable for a web application, print, and CD-ROM. It is ideal for lengthy documentation. It requires more understanding than MS Word.

4. What is the difference between Structured Framemaker and Unstructured Framemaker?

Unstructured Framemaker is an older version. It has a conventional interface. Structured Framemaker allows to author and publish XML documents. It also comprises familiar publishing features of Unstructured Framemaker. The main difference is Unstructured Framemaker is paragraph-based authoring, while Structured Framemaker is all about element-based authoring.

5. What are the typical obstacles a technical writer faces during information gathering?

Information gathering is not an easy task to accomplish for a technical writer. There are several challenges a technical writer typically faces. Some of the common challenges are:

  • Gathering information from credible sources

  • Coordinating with the SMEs

  • Improper review of a write-up by SMEs

  • Unclear expectations

  • Ill-defined products

  • Multi-tasking (handling several different projects at the same time)

  • Lack of clarity on expected audience

6. Where would you use UML or Unified Modeling Language?

In order to visualize the design of a system, a standard modelling language or unified modelling language is used. It helps developers to specify, visualize, and construct. The documentation done in the process helps the technical writer greatly to conduct technical communication.

7. Are XML and HTML similar? If not, how are they different?

No, they are entirely different things. HTML or HyperText Markup Language is a means to display data. It concentrates a lot on how data appears. XML, however, is a software and hardware independent tool. It is used to move as well as store data. It strongly emphasizes on what data is. It also provides a structure.

8. What is DDLC? Name the steps that comprise DDLC.

DDLC or Document Development Life Cycle is the process of developing a document with aims of making it clearer and easier to comprehend. It comprises steps like Requirement Analysis, Designing Phase, Developing the content, Editing/Proofreading, Publishing, and Maintenance.

9. What are the phases that contribute to forming SDLC?

SDLC or Software development lifecycle comprises of six phases and they are Requirement gathering and analysis, Design, Implementation or coding, Testing, Deployment, and Maintenance.

10. What are the publication tools you have worked on?

As a technical writer, there are several documentation and publication tools I have been using. Some of them are MediaWiki, Whatfix, Wordpress, Atavist, MagLoft, Calameo, oXygen XML author, MadCap Flare, Prezi, etc.

11. What do you understand by topic-based authoring?

It is a segmental approach to content development. Content is developed in such a fashion that it is based on certain topics. A well-structured content can be used wherever required in any context.

12. What format is used for sending information inside an organization?

Within an organization, generally, memos are used for sending information or communicating information.

13. What documentation would you use to deliver technical content?

API or application programming interface is what I choose. It helps to deliver technical content deliverable. It also contains instructions on how to integrate and use API.

14. What is the purpose behind adding a call-out?

A call-out is a short thread of text connected by a line, arrow, or similar graphics. It adds extra information to clarify a feature of an illustration or technical drawing.

15. What are the steps you follow when you are starting a new topic on technical writing?

Possible answer 1

I start by going through the instructions provided. Post that, I start working on my questionnaire for the SME. After the SME meeting, I summarize all the relevant information in a flow-chart. Followed by that I look for any additional relevant information on the web. I go through all my findings and start writing on the topic. Then I send it to my editor for review. Based on any input she might have, I make changes and go ahead with the publication.

Possible answer 2

I follow the five stages of technical writing. I start with Preparation by carefully assessing the requirement of the technical writing project. I assess the target audience and look for questions to best reach them. Then I start my Research and look for specific knowledge related to the requirements. By asking relevant questions to the SME, I gather all the necessary information. Then I proceed for Organization of the information. I complete my First Draft, revise it, and send it for Review to my editor.

16. What are the uses of RoboHelp?

It is a help authoring tool designed to help systems, e-learning content, and knowledge bases. The latest version allows you to create responsive HTML5 layouts that work on any device size.

17. What is your strategy of approaching SMEs?

Possible answer 1

My current company has sessions arranged for technical writer and SMEs to interact and communicate. It helps us technical writers greatly in the documentation process. We prepare our questions and present it to SMEs. Further clarifications are done via email.

Possible answer 2

As a freelancer, I rely greatly on networking. I approach SMEs via email and keep the mail as short as possible with apt questions that require very little effort for an explanation. If the client has any special instruction on product highlight, I make it a point to ask the SME such relevant questions.

Technical writer HR interview questions

Here is list of some general and HR interview questions for technical writer position.

18. Do you have any past experience in writing?

Possible answer 1

I have been a successful blogger for quite some time now. I have written plenty of articles for tech companies as a freelancer. I am yet to gain experience specifically as a technical writer under an organization.

Possible answer 2

I have over 7 years of experience working as a technical writer at a reputed company. Currently, I am looking for a more senior position. I have excellent recommendations. I am known for my clear and crisp presentation and on-time delivery.

19. Tell me about yourself?

This is one of the most common interview question, irrespective of the profile.

Possible answer 1

I have been a writer for as long as I can remember. Being a tech-savvy person and a writer, I feel technical writing is my true calling. Apart from my work, I am a movie buff and a foodie.

Possible answer 2

I am a technical writer who loves extreme sports. I am also an avid reader. My motto in life is to work hard and enjoy to the fullest.

Related: Read how to answer Tell me about yourself in detail.

20. Why did you choose technical writer as a career option?

Possible answer 1

I love my role as a technical writer, though I did not start off as one. Being a long-time blogger and having a genuine love for technology, I found myself drawn to this field.

Possible answer 2

Being fascinated with technology yet having no technical training, I always wished if someone could explain how a software worked in simpler terms or how a program could run. I have always been interested in the functions of tech products. Finding simpler explanations from complex information helped me process my technology-related understanding. I found technical writers doing just that. So, I decided to become a technical writer.

21. Do you have any certification in this field?

Possible answer 1

No. When I started my career as a technical writer, no courses were offered for this kind of a profile. But with time I gathered sufficient experience and knowledge related to the filed. I have attended many workshops and seminars. I have even conducted workshops and spoken on seminars on technical writing.

Possible answer 2

Yes. I have been mentored by the best in the field. I have completed relevant technical writing courses. I even got my first job through a placement the course providers offered. I am ITSM trained as well. I am concentrating on advancing my level as a technical writer through continuous learning.

22. How can you contribute to our organization?

Possible answer 1

I am known for scaling profit for my present organization. Since I have the ability to process information and present it in a clear, concise manner, I could be of great assistance to your organization who deals with complex software for ordinary people with limited tech understanding.

Possible answer 2

Since your customers are people who are not high-tech savvy like HR or the finance team, you need someone to easily explain the complicated analysis and diagnostic tools that your company manufactures. I am the right person to convey the information. My approach is simple and easy to comprehend.

23. Describe an incident when you overcame a challenge.

Possible answer 1

My SME had agreed for a follow-up with further questions yet went on cancelling the sessions. My deadline was approaching, so I had to reselect another SME at rescheduling the follow-up with. It led to confusion as the two SMEs differed greatly with their explanations. Ultimately, I managed to sort it out and the client was happy with my work.

Possible answer 2

I had submitted my work for review but even after giving constant reminders I did not hear back from my reviewer. I had missed the deadline. My client was very understanding as I explained my situation. My client even appreciated my commitment to submit good quality work.

24. How do you organize, plan, and prioritise your work?

Possible answer:

I always plan my work thoroughly. I always break down my job into several tasks one after the other. Depending on the phase and keeping the deadline in mind, I organize and prioritise my task.

25. In your experience, what is the key to ensuring your company was compliant with all laws, regulations, and standards that were applicable to your area of responsibility?

Possible answer:

I always ensure that compliances are met. I write down all the procedures and compliances required. As I move along with the documentation, I keep my checklist crossed on all the compliances met.

26. How your attention to detail helped you in your previous assignments?

Possible answer 1

There was a time when an SME had forgotten to mention a specification, very crucial to the documentation I was pursuing. My attention to detail, let me dig deep and get the exact specification which further helped in my explanation of the task.

Possible answer 2

The client had forgotten to mention the target audience for the manual I was preparing. On finding out more on the target audience, I used relevant use-cases and my work was highly appreciated for its easy understanding, relevant and useful examples.

27. What is that one technical writing tip that you found most crucial?

Possible answer

The most useful tip I have received for technical writing is to present information in the simplest way possible, without any use of flowery language. I do not use unnecessary adjectives and I prefer to give information in lists and instructions as steps.

Tips for technical writer interview

  1. Dress professionally: As a technical writer, a lot will be expected from you. It is a serious post and a casual dressing will not be very helpful for you to secure the job. Dress formally.
  2. Brush up English grammar: There are plenty of organizations who take the written test on grammar before hiring a technical writer. Brushing up clauses and subject agreement might just be a great idea.
  3. Portfolio: Carry a portfolio of your published writings. You can carry print outs of your published work or you can even carry a pen drive that has links of your published work.
  4. Latest trends: Technical writing is an evolving field. Latest technologies are coming in to help out technical writers. Thus, it is a great idea to stay abreast with information as it comes. Familiarize yourself with the latest publishing technologies and trends.

Further resources:

Popular technical writing blogs to follow

  1. I'd Rather Be Writing
  2. Techwhirl

Popular technical writing Youtube videos to follow

Here is a list of Youtube videos you that you may find useful.

  1. Technical Writing 101
  2. What do technical writers do by Amruta Ranade

Good luck!

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