RE: Was: Conducting Telephone...Now Interview Questions

Subject: RE: Was: Conducting Telephone...Now Interview Questions
From: "Jones, Donna" <DJones -at- zebra -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 18 May 2006 08:24:04 -0500

> Why are manhole covers round?
> Because a round cover cannot fall into a round hole.

I didn't know that, though it makes perfect sense now that people told

I would have guessed that the interviewer was trying to throw me off
guard. Why else would they ask something that's so far off from
technical communication, right? That's why my somewhat smart-alecky
reply ("To cover round manholes") seemed like the best answer for me. It
was short, technically correct (if not 100% complete), and needed no
further comment.

Had the interviewer then added, "But why are the manholes round?" I
would have been stumped and probably answered with, "I don't know--but
I'm sure I can find the answer if you give me about 5 minutes of
internet access."

What I would hope my answers say about me: I'm not afraid to admit when
I don't know something. I'm resourceful. I didn't make up an answer to
this, so I probably didn't make up answers to anything else in the
interview either.

I've only been involved in interviewing people once. I couldn't bring
myself to ask an off-the-wall question like that. I was more likely to
get people to talk about a previous job (tech writing or not) by asking
them what they did, how they liked it, what the atmosphere was like. "I
see you waited tables for 2 years. Did you like doing that? If that
wasn't your favorite job, what was?" Anything to let them talk within
their comfort zones so we could strip away some of the interview
nervousness and get a feel for their personalities. It was nice to see a
genuine smile on the face of someone who had looked terrified just a few
minutes before.

To me, personality is equally as important as skills or ability to
learn. Someone can be good at what he/she does, but if that person rubs
everyone the wrong way, that doesn't help the team.


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