Re: Interviews & red flags

Subject: Re: Interviews & red flags
From: Dick Margulis <margulisd -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 20 Oct 2004 11:25:36 -0400

Sherry Michaels wrote:

Here's the deal: some questions, or information, are not only dangerous
(like volunteering your sexual preference), but they are illegal. Also
illegal is demonstrable preference for gender, religion, age and race. Lots
of things that are said or done in an interview can appear to "demonstrate"
an illegal preference.

Absolutely. And, as I said yesterday, even if it is not illegal to discriminate based on other arbitrary charactistics that have nothing to do with the ability to perform the job, it is still reprehensible. "You just wouldn't fit in" is the wrong criterion if the reason is race, age, or religion; and it's the wrong criterion in most other circumstances, too.

The Mensa certification is a point of pride for the candidate. The question
is, how much pride? That's a question you can ask outright. "What are your
feelings about dealing with "menial or trivial" tasks? How do you handle
working with people who are obviously not as bright as you in the same way?"
I certainly would! It shouldn't be an eliminator. On the contrary, it could
signal a particularly talented person who may also have developed some
sensitivity over the lifetime of experience; or not. The interview should be
structured to probe these types of things, not eliminate. The hiring
position is the gate for getting the best talent on the market, not
screening out the worst (although lots of hiring officials have been burned
by the worst, too).

Exactly! "I'm curious why you decided to include that on your résumé" can elicit an interesting discussion. Or it can convince you the person is not suitable. But a person's including something that you haven't seen before isn't a sufficient reason to exclude the person from consideration.

The portfolio issue of the women in bathing suits: I'm sorry, I have to
respond to that. A portfolio presented in a professional office environment
for a job in technical writing (or web design, or graphics art) requires a
professional portfolio. Unsuitable for that portfolio would be pictures of
children, flowers, monuments or women in bathing suits and any number of
other "hobby" type stuff.

Here I have to disagree with you, Sherry, at least in this case. Michele's sample wasn't a hobby project; it was a job she did for a paying customer--a customer who determined the theme of the calendar and presumably hired the photographer and models.

As a hiring professional, I'd shorten the
interview significantly, not so much because of the content, but because of
the lack of professional capability represented by such a portfolio. And the
candidate would not be considered for the job. Regardless of my sexual
orientation, race, religion, age, etc.

And there I think you're contradicting your earlier point that it makes the most sense to ask, simply, "Why did you feel it was important to include this sample in your portfolio?" Although, again, in this instance, Michele gave fair warning before showing it, so I think your point becomes moot.



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Interviews & red flags: From: Sherry Michaels

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