Q. Finally, I made it to round two for a job possibility. I interviewed last week with the recruiter and two account people. HR said next step is a writing test that they will “administer virtually” in the next week to 10 days. I said “OK” but I’m not entirely clear what that means. What’s involved in a virtual writing test?
A. Writing tests increasingly are conducted virtually rather than in person. This saves time for both the agency and the applicant. Several agencies determine a 2-hour window of time when you are free to complete the test. They send it to you by email and ask you to complete it before a specified time. Tests vary, but most ask you to write a release or business memo, edit a document, write a media pitch and answer some multiple choice or true-and-false questions.
While there are a variety of virtual testing approaches, they all rely upon your honesty to complete. Don’t be tempted to enlist help from others since you want the agency to have an accurate assessment of your writing skills. It’s very bad form to ace your writing test and then deliver less-than-similar results with your first assignments.
Agencies would love to see A-quality writing results, but they also accept lesser work if they feel you have potential to excel in other aspects of the position.
If you have the option, pick a time for the test when you normally feel your best. Some of us are morning people while others work best in the afternoon. Make sure you have no distractions, and assemble the tools you need. I recommend old-fashioned ones like a dictionary, AP Stylebook and The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, all of which are now available online.
If you are still in college and know that you need writing help, seek out opportunities to improve your skills, either through an advanced writing course or optional workshops. Colleagues at DePaul conduct periodic evening workshops entitled “Acing the Writing Test.”
Good luck with the test. Let me know when you land the job.