Testing copyeditors, part 2: Take the editing test

September 15, 2019 By Erin Brenner

Editing tests taken as part of a job interview are a contentious topic among copyeditors. While some editors have no problem taking them, others are quite vocal about not taking them.

In this new series, I’m looking at the question from both sides: the test takers and the test givers. In part 1, I outlined some reasons for skipping the test. This time, I’ll look at why you might take the editing test.

Why Would You Take a Copyediting Test?

There are some good reasons to not take a copyediting test, but there are some equally good reasons to take a test.

Taking a copyediting test is a good opportunity to show your skills, especially if your résumé doesn’t (yet) reflect your skills. It’s a Catch-22 problem: Hiring agents want experience but you can’t get experience without getting hired. A test can demonstrate your abilities and make the hiring agent feel more secure about you.

You might also take a test because it’s an example of what you’d be working on, giving you an idea of what the job will entail. Hiring isn’t a one-way street. You should get an opportunity to decide if the work is a good fit for you. It’s also a good opportunity to see if your style of editing is a good fit for the project.

Interestingly, no one seems to question tests as part of learning to copyedit, and copyediting teachers are most often experienced copyeditors. If you know the test is being handled by someone who is capable of judging your work, such as a senior or training editor, then the test shouldn’t be a problem.

What if the copy you’ll work on is something very different from what you’re used to, such as academic texts when your experience is in business texts? The hiring agent might like to know if you can make the transition; not everyone is good at all types of editing, after all. You’ll want to know, too, whether you can or even want to do it.

The biggest reasons to take a test, of course, are because the hiring agent wants you to and you want the job. Getting work often involves jumping through hoops, and this might be one of them.

This article was originally posted on the Copyediting website on September 8, 2015.

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