RE: Tech Writer screening questions

Subject: RE: Tech Writer screening questions
From: "Hightower, Mary" <mary -dot- hightower -at- corp -dot- bellsouth -dot- net>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2000 13:04:36 -0400

Okay, I should have been more clear.

Direct questions about hobbies or personal life should not be asked during
an interview---agreed. Don't directly ask someone, "What are your hobbies?"
or "What do you do on the weekend?"

Interviewing someone is not an easy task. Deciding whether to hire the
person is not easy, either. Realizing that you and your co-workers will be
spending anywhere from 1 to 10 hours each day, 5 days a week, working with
him/her as well as depending on him/her, you know that you need a specific
skill set.

Personality may be important, but hobbies really have little to do with the
job in the office. Hobbies say things about a person, however. I think the
purpose behind asking about hobbies is to gain insight about the person's
personality or character. Someone who jumps off cliffs on the weekends may
be a bit on the active or energetic side; someone who enjoys sitting and
reading or writing may be more of a solitary worker. Someone who claims to
be "Trivia Master", well...oh, and don't wear an empty gun holster to an
interview---I have no idea what that says, but it scares the heck out of

If you would like to learn more about the person whom who are interviewing,
take them on a brief tour of the office and point out the parties your
office is having, that you have a softball team, there are free Cokes in the
break room, every Thursday is squirt-gun day, the boss doesn't like Dilbert,
that Mary won the regional body piercing contest and so forth.

If the person doesn't respond favorably, then stop. The information gained
isn't critical---how the person responds to you and others in the office is
critical. Do they laugh with you or stare at you like a hunted animal,
"Dear, God, get me out of here?".

I glance in cubes that I walk by on the way to and from the interview. Are
there lots of pictures and personal articles or is it all work related? All
that tells me is whether the office is more business or do they like to have
fun. Which environment do I work best in?

It's simply extra information to better prepare yourself for the environment
you will be working in, if you the one being interviewed, or for who you
will be working with, if you are the interviewer.

The decision to hire should be made on the person's skills; personality may
be a factor. Personal life/hobbies should not.

"Sorry to bother you. Good day."

Atlanta, GA

-----Original Message-----
From: Pat Anderson [mailto:panders -at- aw -dot- sgi -dot- com]
Sent: Thursday, June 15, 2000 11:29 AM
Subject: Re: Tech Writer screening questions

At 9:24 PM -0400 14/06/00, Dan Roberts wrote:

>I've go for most of Susan Brown's statements, but ....
>I'm not quite sure how my interest in bonsai and PWA advocacy reflect my
>as a TW. Or are you just looking to make sure the person has a 'life' off

Well, Dan...
I'd say that your interest in bonsai means that you're able to perform
short-term tasks with a look to the long term... that you've got at least a
modicum of patience... that, outside of the office, at least some of your
time is spent in activities that have been shown to reduce blood pressure...

I very seldom find a technical writer who has experience in everything that
I'd like ... but outside activities frequently show that they have at least
peripheral experience with some things that are useful.

For example, I have one staff member who had little experience, but one of
his outside interests was creating short films. So he knows how to outline,
storyboard, light a scene, work with people, and understands camera
lenses... all which, incidentally, come in handy in our workplace!


Pat Anderson,
Documentation Manager, Design Products
tel: (416) 874-8375
email: panders -at- aw -dot- sgi -dot- com

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