Re: job interviews with tests

Subject: Re: job interviews with tests
From: MichaelHuggins -at- aol -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 04 Feb 2002 13:00:25 EST

I interviewed with FedEx several years ago. I was given a 15-minute editing test and then assigned to write a 400-600 word memo, addressed to a corporate executive, describing the value of technical writing. I was not hired, but I thought both tests were fair and reasonable.

Someone suggested that the applicant simply ask the prospective employer or the recruiter what sort of test was involved. That sounds reasonable, but I'm not sure that one can rely on the answer. My brother was sent to interview for a programming job, years ago, and told by the recruiter that the shop programmed in COBOL. In the course of his interview, he waxed eloquent on his enthusiasm for COBOL. The interviewer just looked at him and said, "Well that's nice, but it so happens that we use FORTRAN."

Some years later, I was contacted by a placement office and asked if I would be interested in an editorial position at the "Southern Journal of Psychology." I said I certainly would be, and I called the contact that I had been given and started describing my interest in psychology, my familiarity with American Psychological Association Style Guide standards, etc.

There was an awkward silence. The contact person said, "I'm not sure why you're mentioning all this. This is the Journal of *Philosophy.*"

In another job interview, some years later, the HR representative who interviewed me seemed to have little or no idea what a technical writer was, or did. However, she had just been on a trip to France, which I had also visited some years before, and 75% of the interview was spent with her telling me about her trip to France. I left, and she proceeded to call the hiring manager and tell him I was head and shoulders above all the other candidates.

I suggest that one simply be prepared for just about anything and see what happens.

Michael Huggins

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