RE: Interviewing technical writers

Subject: RE: Interviewing technical writers
From: Joyce -dot- Fetterman -at- L-3com -dot- com
To: "Chris Despopoulos" <despopoulos_chriss -at- yahoo -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2012 09:51:05 -0400

Chris Despopoulos wrote:
At interview time, one question you should ask might be a puzzle of some sort.  Not to see whether the person gets the right answer, but just to see the thought process.  Or the classic unrelated, open question...  A friend of mine always asked prospects how a toilet works.  If the person simply didn't know, my friend assumed a lack of technical curiosity -- there's some merit in that. [snipped] 

That part of your reply caught my attention. I completely disagree. I have plenty of technical curiosity about things that interest me. I simply don't care how a toilet works. I do, however, know how to ask questions and do research, so if I ever NEED to know how a toilet works, I can definitely (and quickly) find out. Isn't that a more important attribute, especially in our line of work?

I dislike the trend toward asking nonsensical questions in an interview just to see the reaction. Interviews are difficult enough. Throwing out a ludicrous question won't give you a true idea of how well the interviewee will respond once she or he is no longer worried about securing a paycheck. BTW, I do very well in interviews and I've managed similar questions without any problem, but I still think it's ridiculous.

Joyce Fetterman
PS I do know how a toilet works, but still...

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Re: Interviewing technical writers: From: Chris Despopoulos

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