Kyle Wiens, the CEO of iFixit as well as founder of Dozuki, talks about his hiring policies and especially stresses on basic grammar skills. He believes that not knowing the basic grammar reflects on the applicants learning curve. “Grammar is my litmus test. All applicants say they’re detail-oriented; I just make my employees prove it.”
Grammar is a basic requirement for all companies. Wiens, stresses on the fact that he may seem slightly harsh in his hiring policies as grammar may not have anything to do with the applicant’s qualification for the job. The applicant may otherwise be qualified but their lack of grammar skills shows their lack of a present mind.
Although he does not seem to agree with Lynne Truss who thinks that people who mix up their itses “deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave.” He just thinks that they should be passed over for a job. A mere comma can make all the difference in the world and is he wrong?
Everyone who applies for a position at either of Wiens’ companies, iFixit or Dozuki, takes a mandatory grammar test as they write for a living. iFixit is the world’s largest online repair manual, and Dozuki helps companies write their own technical documentation, like paperless work instructions and step-by-step user manuals. So, it only makes sense that Wiens made a preemptive strike against groan-worthy grammar errors.
Writing isn’t in the official job description of most people in the office and yet they give out grammar tests to everybody, including their salespeople, operations staff, and the programmers.
Kyle Wiens may go as far as to pass on a great programmer who cannot write, even in this hyper-competitive market. He says, “I’ve found that people who make fewer mistakes on a grammar test also make fewer mistakes when they are doing something completely unrelated to writing — like stocking shelves or labeling parts.
“In the same vein, programmers who pay attention to how they construct written language also tend to pay a lot more attention to how they code. You see, at its core, code is prose.”
Wiens reckons to the belief that the devil is in the details. “In fact, when it comes to my whole business, details are everything. And I guarantee that even if other companies aren’t issuing grammar tests, they pay attention to sloppy mistakes on résumés. After all, sloppy is as sloppy does.” Wiens cannot stress enough that applicants who do not think writing is important are likely to think lots of other salient things also are not indispensable.