Good company fit?

Subject: Good company fit?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "Techwr-L (E-mail)" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2000 09:29:00 -0400

The ever-prolific Anonymous wonders: <<With all these experienced
interviewers, I'm hoping someone has some good
advice for what questions to ask that might help indicate if a company is a
good fit for a prospective employee.>>

My typical questions, in no particular order of priority:

- How much overtime does the typical writer do in a year? How are writers
compensated for this time? (When interviewing for my current job, I made it
crystal clear that I had no objection to occasional overtime, but that if it
became an ongoing requirement, they were going to have to hire more staff.
They liked me enough that they hired me anyway. But my point is that life's
too short to spend it all on documentation.)

- Will I have full access to the developers, SMEs, etc.? Will I have any
authority to propose or impose changes? (If I'm not going to be treated as a
full team member, I'm not going to work there long--or perhaps at all.)

- After the interview, can I talk (privately) to other members of my future
team and (ideally) to some of the developers or researchers I'll be working
with? (What they say at the interview may not be at all what the employees
would say. Ask what they like best--and hate most--about the place. They
won't always be fully honest, but if you pay attention, you can still
collect some valuable hints. You should ask the same questions of the people
who are interviewing you, of course. Comparing answers can be enlightening

- How much time or money are they willing to invest in me annually for
training? (I'm not looking for a numeric value, but rather for an indication
that they value my development.)

You'll have to ask these questions diplomatically, since you don't want to
come off as arrogant; if you've established a good rapport with the
interviewers, it's easy enough to make these questions seem friendly and
"interested" rather than defensive and paranoid. There are many other
questions you can ask, but this is a good start. Any book on interviewing
skills (check the library) should list other good questions.

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Technical writing... requires understanding the audience, understanding
what activities the user wants to accomplish, and translating the often
idiosyncratic and unplanned design into something that appears to make
sense."--Donald Norman, The Invisible Computer

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