TW Screening Questions

Subject: TW Screening Questions
From: Joanne Meehl <Jmeehl -at- datum -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 16:51:11 -0400

<I wouldn't discourage asking about hobbies and other activities.

<It may make some interviewee's uncomfortable, but there are
benefits to
asking. My reason for asking would be to get a better feel for how
they will fit in with the group.>

And HR people who know their US labor law will tell you that "how someone
fits in" is not considered related to job performance. Yes, I agree that
"fit" *is* critical; how many of us have found a highly-skilled co-worker
who's made our work life miserable, because of personality issues?
But skilled HR people will tell you (as they have told me) that these
innocuous questions can be dangerous because an unsuccessful candidate can
claim "the interview fell apart when I told them I volunteered for the
NRA/Planned Parenthood/whatever, so obviously they are biased against me for
that and that's why I didn't get the job".
So it's a fine line to walk. I focus on specifics by asking candidates to
give examples of various (tough) tech writing situations they've been in,
and how did they resolve them; I've also posed "what if" situations and
asked them how they'd handle it. Ask enough of these kinds of questions over
30-60 minutes, and patterns begin to emerge. The candidate's answers and
non-verbal behavior won't tell you everything about them, but they will tell
you a lot.

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