RE: Advice for Job Seekers

Subject: RE: Advice for Job Seekers
From: "Lydia Wong" <lydiaw -at- fpoint -dot- com>
To: "Michele Marques" <mmarques -at- cms400 -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2000 12:19:00 -0400

Michele summarized and commented:

> Lydia and Mark are both disturbed by this question:
> > > One of our favorite questions to ask interviewees is "what
> are the three
> > > best and the three worst traits of your former managers?"
> They see it as an ambush game.

Actually, Michele, I'm not disturbed by it, because I'm the one who asks
that question at interviews, and I posted about it in the first place. ; )

Otherwise, I agree with your post, Michele. You have hit the nail on the
head. I'm surprised at the number of people who have said they see this as a
game, and who said that interviewers should only ask about competencies.

I don't see this as a game question at all. I don't like games, and I don't
have answers that I consider "wrong" or "right" here. Also, I am not asking
this question in lieu of other questions. It is false logic to assume that I
mean to really ask "why are you leaving your job?" That is not what I am
asking at all. It would be wrong for me to assume that the person left
because of the "bad" traits of their former managers. I know of too many
examples in my own life where I or someone I know has stayed at a job in
spite of bad management, or has left a job where they had a good manager.

Some people seem very cynical about this; perhaps they have had bad
experiences with questions similar to this. Fortunately, most of the people
we interview seem interested in the question, and give us very thoughtful

As far as only asking about competencies in interviews, that seems like such
a narrow approach. If I only ask if you have the skills or potential skills
to do the job, but make no effort to try to ascertain if you would like it
at our company, work well with the team, etc., I'm not serving the best
interests of my company. Hiring someone who has the skills, but then leaves
after 6 months or a year because they don't like the working environment, is
doing nobody a favor. It's very draining monetarily and emotionally.

As Michele points out, I would hope that an interviewee would turn this
question around and ask about the management styles at our company. It is
certainly a part of their job as a candidate to see if this looks like a
good fit for them as well (as discussed in the other recent thread).

Finally, as someone who has asked this question at several interviews, what
often happens is the discussion leads from the *positive* traits people
discuss into further discussions about management style. The negative traits
actually are often very similar: lying to the staff and poor communication
skills are the ones we hear most often. (Take note, you managers out there.)
It's amazing the testimonies we've heard about the manager in someone's
former job who helped them get established as a writer, or who was an
excellent communicator. That's why when the candidate had nothing but
negative things to say, we saw that as a red flag.

Lydia Wong
Technical Writer
FarPoint Technologies, Inc. <>

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