RE: Interviewing technical writers

Subject: RE: Interviewing technical writers
From: Paul Hanson <twer_lists_all -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2012 11:16:46 -0500

The only reason I have a blurb about being a music reviewer for
http://www.dailyvault.com for over a decade is to demonstrate I can write
pieces other than online Help and user guides.

Paul

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+twer_lists_all=hotmail -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+twer_lists_all=hotmail -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On
Behalf Of Cardimon, Craig
Sent: Thursday, April 12, 2012 11:13 AM
To: 'Chris Despopoulos'; 'Gene Kim-Eng'; 'Joyce -dot- Fetterman -at- L-3com -dot- com';
'techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com'
Subject: RE: Interviewing technical writers

I thought you were not supposed to mention off-topic interests on such
things as resumes unless they were directly applicable.

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+ccardimon=m-s-g -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+ccardimon=m-s-g -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf
Of Chris Despopoulos
Sent: Thursday, April 12, 2012 12:05 PM
To: Gene Kim-Eng; Joyce -dot- Fetterman -at- L-3com -dot- com; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Re: Interviewing technical writers

First, I don't think there's anything stupid or tricky about asking somebody
to explain something that he knows about.  The underlying question is, do
you know how to explain stuff?  If you're not asking that question, hand the
interview over to somebody else. 


Second, I agree that assuming ignorance of toilets equates to ignorance in
general is a bit harsh.  But if you put "musician" on your resume, why can't
I ask about the octave?  If you put "interest in biology", why can't I ask
about great apes?  And why can't I ask for an explanation of how toilets
work?  It's a mundane thing many people do understand...  The way you
translate your understanding into an answer is precisely what I want to know
about.  If your answer is, "I don't know anything about toilets", then I can
ask you to name your topic and explain something interesting about it.  Why
not? 


As for puzzle questions...  Again, if the idea is to see how a person
thinks, why not?  If you think it's nonsensical when asked in an interview,
then you're headed for trouble.  It's a specific probe designed to find
something out.  I've gotten these before, and I figure it's just part of the
game. 


And don't forget that the interview is a place for the candidate to find
things out, too.  If I really hate that kind of question, I've just learned
something.  Maybe I don't want to work there. 



________________________________
From: Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
To: Joyce -dot- Fetterman -at- L-3com -dot- com; Chris Despopoulos
<despopoulos_chriss -at- yahoo -dot- com>; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Sent: Thursday, April 12, 2012 10:26 AM
Subject: Re: Interviewing technical writers

My approach is to place a small device or part on the desk, one which I'm
pretty sure the candidate won't recognize, and ask the candidate how he or
she would go about finding out what it is, what it does, how it works and
how to use it if someone were to drop it on a table and say, "We need a
document tfor his ASAP."

I hate stupid trick interview questions.  I have more than enough stupid
trick real-life questions I can ask, and I might get answers I could
actually use.

Gene Kim-Eng


----- Original Message ----- From: <Joyce -dot- Fetterman -at- L-3com -dot- com> "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.

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Follow-Ups:

References:
Re: Interviewing technical writers: From: Chris Despopoulos
RE: Interviewing technical writers: From: Joyce . Fetterman
Re: Interviewing technical writers: From: Gene Kim-Eng
Re: Interviewing technical writers: From: Chris Despopoulos
RE: Interviewing technical writers: From: Cardimon, Craig

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