RE: Interviewing writers

Subject: RE: Interviewing writers
From: Chuck Martin <CMartin -at- serena -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000 10:02:36 -0800

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Kimberly [mailto:JKWilson -at- concentric -dot- net]
> Sent: Wednesday, January 26, 2000 5:00 PM
> Subject: RE: Interviewing writers
> OTOH, I don't think very highly of being "tested" in an
> interview. A test
> and an interview are two different things, IMO, and while I
> might agree to
> a writing test, I wouldn't expect an interview to be the place for it
> (unless I was informed ahead of time) or for the test to BE
> the interview.
Don't interview for a programming job at Microsoft. I've been told on more
than one occasion that candidates for programming jobs there are usually
asked to solve some programming problem as a routine part of an interview.

An interview *is* a test. True, many interviews for tech writing jobs don't
feature on-the-spot written tests, but I wouldn't rule them out. But then,
I've had many oral "tests" in interviews: "Such-and-such is the situation;
how would you resolve it?"

Interviews are also tests for the company; I'm testing just as much as they

Besides, how many times in our careers have we had things dropped in our lap
quite unexpectedly? Doing such a thing in an interview would be a good way
to gauge the interviewee's response. If I were interviewing a tech writer
and decided to give a small written test, and got a response that, verbally
or non-verbally, communicated the message that "I didn't expect this," that
person sure wouldn't be at the top of my hiring candidate's list.

Chuck Martin
Sr. Technical Writer, SERENA Software

"People who use business software might despise it, but they are getting
paid to tolerate it....Most people who are paid to use a tool feel
constrained not to complain about that tool, but it doesn't stop them from
feeling frustrated and unhappy about it."
- "The Inmates are Running the Asylum"
Alan Cooper

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