RE: New TECHWR-L Poll Question

Subject: RE: New TECHWR-L Poll Question
From: "LeVie, Donald S" <donald -dot- s -dot- levie -at- intel -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2001 07:36:01 -0800

Bill said about technical knowledge tests:

> 1) They don't measure aptitude. Just because someone
> doesn't know what reciprocal compensation or a FAT
> table is doesn't mean they can't write about it.

I wholeheartedly agree. I have two personal examples that illustrate Bill's

I once interviewed for a contract position with a technical marcom agency,
who was working on a Unix-based workstation project. During the interview, I
was asked several technical questions about Unix. I reached in my briefcase
and pulled out my copy of "Unix for Dummies" and told them if they'd give me
a minute or so between questions, I could find the answer.

The interviewers understood my point right away. When I got called back for
a second interview with the agency owner, he asked me if I've ever worked
with Unix. My reply: "I work well with all types of people <g>." He laughed
heartedly and I got the job. And guess what? My involvement required no
knowledge of Unix whatsoever.

Second example, I was interviewing for Manager of Worldwide Technical Media
for a small but very successful semiconductor company. One of the lead
engineers started asking very technical questions about certain families of
microprocessors for which I had managed the documentation development
several years prior (I had had a team of writers working on the projects).
My response to his first two questions were: "If I had my reference manuals
with me, I could tell you." After the third question, I said: "Let me
explain to you the context in which I was involved with those projects as
information development project manager, and the context within which I am
being interviewed for the present position."

I had disarmed him in a diplomatic way, and I finished the interview by
asking him a series of questions that I needed answers to to better
understand the requirements and obstacles facing the position for which I
was interviewing. I ended up turning down the offer based on the information
I got from MY questions.

My advice is this: you should go in to every interview situation with the
attitude that you are in control of the interview. When the questions start
wandering away from your domain of expertise, you must not go down that
path. That's when you have to redirect the effort to focus on YOUR skills,
YOUR problem-solving ability; YOUR knowledge and experience. Heck, what we
don't know we can look up in a book or on the Web. And if it's a test of my
attitude instead of aptitude, I've passed that as well by my responses. I
don't say "I don't know": I say "I can find out how."

You should spend your time selling yourself rather than defending what you
don't know.

Donn Le Vie
Information Engineering
Network Communications Group
Wireless Communication and Computing Group


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