How do you decide between two equally worthy candidates? When in doubt, hire the person with the best writing skills, says Kris Dunn, VP of People for software firm DAXKO and author of “The HR Capitalist” blog.
1. People talk the way they write. If they have trouble putting together a sentence, they’ll have trouble making an introduction or a presentation.
2. There’s this crazy little thing called e-mail, based almost entirely on the ability to write.
3. When fumbled, e-mail can offend and even trigger lawsuits.
4. The ability to convey ideas and persuade—all using the written word—makes an employee more valuable to your organization.
“Writing skills can influence almost anyone—customers, fellow employees, media and competitors, to name a few—and we don’t pay enough attention to the value it provides in the hiring process,” Dunn says.
We’re not talking about the kind of writing used in term papers. Instead, find out whether the person can write thoughts in an engaging, personable and influencing manner.
Like art, you know good writing when you see it. But you’ll need a test.
Dunn’s favorite way? Pick something you didn’t talk about in the interview and that isn’t on the applicant’s résumé. Send the candidate a note asking a detailed question—something that warrants an e-mail response of several paragraphs. To get enough specifics, make sure you ask for the candidate’s opinion.
Then, consider the resulting e-mail in the overall candidate’s profile—and use it as a deciding factor in case of ties.