RE: Portfolios of samples as Interviewing criteria

Subject: RE: Portfolios of samples as Interviewing criteria
From: Shea Michael EXT <Michael -dot- Shea -dot- extern -at- icn -dot- siemens -dot- de>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2002 09:43:09 +0100

I have to disagree with John here. While it's true that I don't expect an interview candidate to remember details about jobs they did years ago, but if you bring a sample to an interview, you better be prepared to speak intelligently about it.

One former colleague of mine, wrote a small paragraph for each item in his portfolio explaining who the document was for, what the document was supposed to do, and in what ways the document achieved that goal.

Michael Shea
XpressLink Documentation

Michael Shea
Am Schlossberg 14, D-82547 Eurasburg, Germany

Phone: +49 8179 9307-19, Fax: +49 8179 9307-12
E-Mail: shea -at- r-l -dot- de, Web:

> I find writing samples to be useful because I now always ask the writer
> what the product does. I'm surprised at how many people cannot tell me
> something succinct and descriptive about the product they were writing
> It seems to me that someone bringing a sample to an interview should be
> able to fully talk about the sample, and that would include knowing
> something about what the product is and how it works.

I don't know if I agree with this part.

In the 10 years that I've been writing stuff, I've written about some pretty
obscure software and applications. In my portfolio, which has about 40
different pieces, I have a Release Note for a UNIX tool that was home-grown
by the client for internal use. It is pretty impressive and if you are
looking for me to have some experience writing Release Notes, this will
satisfy the requirement.

However, having written it 5-6 years ago, I couldn't remember what the
application did to save my life. I researched it, I wrote it, I got it
approved, I deployed the documentation, and I went on to the next
deliverable. Unless I need to revisit something I've written about, I
cannot afford the limited amount of mental storage that I have left for
something I don't need to remember....I'm having trouble remembering the
things I DO need to remember.

I'd venture to say that if you can remember off the top of your head what
everything you wrote about during you career as a writer did, you either
haven't written much or you haven't been writing long.

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