RE: Interviewing potential coworkers

Subject: RE: Interviewing potential coworkers
From: "Hager, Harry (US - East Brunswick)" <hhager -at- dc -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2001 09:19:29 -0500


I generally agree with your comments.

Notice that I never said it was an easy decision by the group regarding the
candidate that was "too intense." We had a thorough and lengthy discussion
and reluctantly reached our conclusion.

You asked, to paraphrase, What assurance did we have that were being
objective about our chemistry and the candidate? None. However, we were in
the midst of a lengthy growth period and had already interviewed and hired
several new software technical writers.

We did the best we could do, we made our decisions on the best objective and
subjective evidence available, and we moved on. Don't we all do that every
day of our lives?

It's certainly true some writing groups may be too insular and perhaps need
their chemistry adjusted. That was not the case with this group. The group
as a whole had to compete inside the company to get writing projects. It was
full of good and talented writers. Some of our books (including one of mine)
won STC awards on the local level (New England) and in national STC
competition. Some of the books (including one of mine) were written for the
commercial market (and to be given free to other companies writing software
supporting our software and hardware) are still available on and
other sources. (At least they were still there the last time I looked.)
They are not big sellers (about five years ago the book I helped write had
sold more than 5000 copies and was in the 4th or 5th printing) and they were
written about 12 years ago. However, in their niche, they are still very
useful books.

Why bore with these details? Only to let you know that at the time, we were
successful at what we were doing and we had the feedback to let us know it.

Life moves on.

H. Jim Hager
hhager -at- dc -dot- com

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Bryans [mailto:michael -dot- bryans -at- hummingbird -dot- com]
Sent: Thursday, March 15, 2001 8:23 AM
To: Techwr-l
Cc: Hhager
Subject: Was: Interviewing potential coworkers


I agree with most of your response to the "Interviewing
potential coworkers" thread. For sure, working style
and temperament are relevant factors in new candidates.
However, both are rather tough to pin down in an
interview, like an elusive bar of soap in the shower.
Candidate knowledge and capability are obviously very
important. So ... your group of writers agreed that
one particular soul was too intense for their liking
despite that criteria being rather amorphous too. OK.

Who can disagree that a group's "chemistry" should be
considered when it comes to taking new members into its
fold? I'm not meaning to be picky merely for the sake
of argument, but I find some of the criteria in your
posting to be elusive and inconclusive. In the end, I
presume the collective instinct of your group kicked in
and they reached the "too intense" verdict. However,
what assurance is there that any particular group of
individuals can be reasonably certain or objective
about the nature of their own chemistry?

Like you, and many others, I have spent plenty time on
both sides of the interview table in several careers.
I have been subject to, and party to, debate about
individual intensity and group chemistry. I find these
notions rather subjective, but nonetheless interesting.
Is it not possible that a large group of technical
writers might lack intensity, passion, chutzpah, or
that they regard the focus or dedication of one
individual as a threat? At the end of the interview
process, I usually wind up with a mix of subjective and
objective conclusions about the candidate, but the
final decision is largely driven by instinct (mine and
that of others).

A few years ago, I was once at the receiving end of a
"not a good fit" verdict. Who can argue with that, and
why would one bother anyway? You just move on. It is
not easy for the candidate to accurately assess a
group's chemistry in advance of an interview. At any
rate, who can say whether it is the group, the
interviewers, or the candidate who are/is in possession
of some negative quality that might lead to a "not a
good fit" conclusion? I cannot see a reason why I
would welcome a troublesome rebel (without a cause)
into my ranks, but I do not think it reasonable to fear
the intensity of others. Maybe some groups (or
individuals) need to be shaken up and have their
chemistry boat rocked once in a while.


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