Thus, writing-as-interview-prep suggestions include:
- writing an autobiography, which can reveal areas that you may not wish to discuss with an interviewer;
- practicing describing yourself by citing professional characteristics with examples from school and work experience;
- writing detailed proof statements that are tantamount to 30-second commercials about yourself;
- identifying about 30 accomplishments and writing 100-400 words on the top 12 of these, followed by isolating skills demonstrated by each accomplishment;
- composing success stories to prepare for interviews.
Writing to Learn
Why are these writing exercises effective in enhancing interview performance? We credit Writing-to-Learn theory. James Britton, considered by many to be the father of the Writing-to-Learn movement, asserts that writing is learning because writing enables learners to organize their knowledge “and extend it in an organized way so that it remains coherent, unified, reliable.” Janet Emig notes that “writing through its inherent reinforcing cycle involving hand, eye, and brain marks a uniquely powerful multi-representational mode for learning.” Other scholars expand on Emig’s “reinforcing cycle.” “It’s a physical activity, unlike reading,” writes William Zinsser. “Writing requires us to operate some kind of mechanism — pencil, pen, typewriter, word processor — for getting our thoughts on paper.” David Joliffe asserts that this physical act of writing compels writers to become “actively involved” with what they’re writing about. Through writing, Joliffe says, participants “generate challenging ideas “¦ engage in a substantial process “¦ practice analysis and synthesis “¦ and demonstrate a personal commitment to their ideas”¦” Suzanne Cherry calls writing “thinking on paper.”
Composing written responses to interview questions works because it helps candidates learn and remember concepts and content, improve thinking and cognitive abilities, organize their thoughts, enhance communication skills, bolster their self-image, and make connections. Demonstrating thoughtfulness and organized thinking is positively associated with interview performance, according to a study by Maurer, Solamon, Andrews, and Troxtel. Noting that cognitive ability in applicants has been shown to be a “strong and consistent predictor of job performance,” and, in fact, to predict job performance more “accurately and universally” than other constructs (largely because this ability indicates candidates’ ability to rapidly learn job requirements), Huffcutt, Roth, and McDaniel posit that applicants with higher cognitive ability may exhibit greater effectiveness than other candidates in responding to situational and abstract questions. Writing-to-Learn’s claims to help its practitioners organize their thoughts and make connections suggests that the Writing-to-Learn approach would be one way to sharpen communicative abilities for interviewing.