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Asked by monica on August 3, 2016

An online job application is asking for a writing sample that answers the question, "Tell us about the aspects of your background that would match the job for which you are being considered." How do I provide a writing sample for a supervisory role at an engineering firm that answers this question? Would sample reports or memos work? Or are they asking for a short essay on my background?

Answered by Mike, Hiring Expert at Avery Dennison Corporation, on August 8, 2016

Hi there!

That is a good question that you asked of the company.  They certainly aren't being very clear on what they are looking for in their requirements.  My guess would be that they are looking for you to write a response to the question, and would use that to assess your writing ability.  

For a better answer, you might want to call the company and track down the recruiter for the role and ask them directly.  Depending on the size of the company, it might take a little more effort, but would be worth the answer.  If it's a smaller firm (50-100 employees for example), the posting was probably created by an office manager or HR generalist that could explain a little more.  If the company is one that's much larger, I'd recommend that you call the HR or Talent Acquisition department, and be prepared with the job title and requisition/job number if one is available.  

And, if you do get a hold of someone that is familiar with the job, you might want to take the opportunity to introduce yourself (not too long, they're probably busy), but also see if you could get any details on the job or what they are looking for.  It might help you in crafting the answer to their writing sample request.

I hope this helps!  Good luck and happy essay-writing!

Mike 

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Answered by Stephanie, Hiring Expert at AT&T Inc., on August 16, 2016

Hi there!  A supervisory role can have a number of different facets, and I always look at the "asks" from a company as probably serving more than one purpose.  So putting those things together...they want you to be a supervisor, so you need to be able to express yourself cohesively and a firm grasp on concepts like situation/reaction/resolution/recovery.  I would lean towards including some examples of how you have managed people, workloads, budgets, experiences that required you utilize big picture thinking etc.  If you want to include sample reports or memos, I would do it in the context of showing the types of experiences you have previously had that would set you up well to be successful in the new role, but not exclusively to answer their request.

Take a careful look at the job description for the job.  Are you going to need to interact with clients?  How many people will you be supervising?  What amount of hands on work are they expecting?  Reporting?  Frame your response around these ideas so the recruiter/hiring manager who checks out your response can really SEE you in the job!  Best of luck!

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Answered by Bret, Hiring Expert at Emerson, on August 17, 2016

Hello!

While the question does seem a bit ambiguous I would recommend you to answer the question in the short essay format you recommended. It is never advisable to include sample reports or memos from a previous role because often they are proprietary information of that company and you would have agreed with them during your employment not to share internal information outside of the company.

The best way to approach this question is to understand the job description well and look for transferable skills and situations which you can write about that demonstrate your capabilities in this area. As with any application question, in the absence of explicit directions, keep your answers brief, poignant and deliberate.

Always include real-life examples. Recruiters will probably get a lot of answers that people write based on what they think the recruiter wants to hear, but they will lack sincerity. Try not to provide what you think is the ‘best’ answer, provide an honest answer from your background that is a clear demonstration of your skill.

Good luck!
Bret

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Answered by Ashley, Hiring Expert at Cardinal Health, on August 24, 2016

Great question! I would have to agree with everyone else in saying this question does seem a bit vague. My assumption is this is a standard question the company asks applicants for all positions. I would recommend answering it in a short essay format, similar to a cover letter. Read through the job description and think about the experiences and skills you have that could make you successful in this position. I would think about your hard and soft skills. You should be able to effectively communicate how your past experiences would make you a successful supervisor and lead people, as well as how your expertise could make you and your team successful within the firm. I imagine the firm is also assessing your writing skills through this question so you'll want to thoroughly check your spelling and grammar for errors.
Good luck!

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