RE: Interviewing potential coworkers

Subject: RE: Interviewing potential coworkers
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2001 09:15:34 -0500

Meg Ehr has <<... a *brand*spanking*new* opening for another permanent tech
writer in our department. There was a contract TW in the position until his
contract ended a couple of weeks ago, and I've been on my own since. I'm
anxious that
we get someone on board (before I drown...), but I want to make sure it's
the *right* person.>>

Unless there was something wrong with the contractor (or that person prefers
the freelance life), why not simply ask them if they'd like to join you
permanently? I'm a strong advocate of hiring people who you've brought in
for short-term work if they end up being capable of doing the job well. (We
do that a lot here at work, and haven't had any problems with the approach
yet. And if the person doesn't work out, well then they knew it was a
short-term contract when they signed the papers.)

<<does anyone have any questions/techniques/criteria that might help me
determine what someone would (could...) be like to work with?>>

You can do all the role-playing and hypothetical questioning you want, but
I've worked with (and for) enough people who give great interview but who
turned out to be all talk and no action when they actually did the job. So
while I don't dispute the value of interviewing, I do note that it's
difficult to see through the BS sometimes, and advise not using how
"polished" the person appears as a criterion. (I think I once inadvertently
came off as being polished. It was probably an accident. <g>) That being
said, and assuming you're looking for someone who's a good fit (i.e., they
already have the technical qualifications), spend some time talking to the
person to find out what they're like: what books do they read, what movies
do they watch, what are there hobbies, etc. This tells you nothing about
their job skills, but you'll get a feel for the person. Also ask them
questions about how they'd handle typical problem situations that you've
faced at your workplace; you'll get an idea of how they solve problems, and
their answers may also give you some useful insights into how you're solving
(or failing to solve) problems.

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
"User's advocate" online monthly at

"I vowed [that] if I complained about things more than three times, I had to
do something about it."--Jon Shear


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