Re: Advice needed for an upcoming interview

Subject: Re: Advice needed for an upcoming interview
From: Anne Robotti <arobotti -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: Anonymous <anonymous -at- techwhirl -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 23 Apr 2013 10:27:09 -0400

I've been a tech writer since 1995, and I don't consider it shameful that I
don't know any programming languages. :)

In general, in interviews, I highlight my strengths and own my weaknesses.
I seek to establish personal connections with the people interviewing me. I
mean, they've seen my resume. They know whether I have programming
experience and they know I've documented APIs without it. (And truthfully,
it hasn't been a big deal.) They know I don't have project management
experience, but they can see that I've managed projects.

I don't lie, I don't even gloss over things. "No, I don't actually program
in C++. As you can see I've written APIs for C++ code. That was an example
of a project with a steep learning curve - I consider the ability to climb
a steep learning curve to be one of my major strengths."

Truthfully, the people I like to work for are the people who like people
like me. (Ha! Parse THAT!) If they're looking for somebody that's already
steeped in their application and knows everything about the job, I'm not
the right fit. I want and need a learning curve to stay interested. A job
interview is just as much about you deciding whether you want to work there
as it is about them deciding whether they like you. There's no shame in not
being the right fit. I'm not going to get the same interviews as Gene
Kim-Eng, and we're not going to get hired for the same jobs. People who
like him will probably hate me, and possibly vice-versa as far as hiring
goes! And we're both still amazing at our jobs.

When I get a hiring manager that's talking more about how I would approach
the task of learning their software, that wants to hear about how I work on
a team and how I get developers to talk to me or talk about the philosophy
of tech writing... *that's* the person that I want to convince to be my
boss. And that's almost always the person who'll hire me.

Congratulations on getting the interview. You're halfway there. Now go in
there and sell YOU - the real you. If they don't want that, you didn't want
to work there and the right job is waiting just around the bend.

Anne



On Tue, Apr 23, 2013 at 10:02 AM, Anonymous <anonymous -at- techwhirl -dot- com> wrote:

> *Please post your responses to the list, as replies cannot be forwarded to
> the anonymous poster.*
>
>
> I have a job interview on Thursday. I documented an embedded version of the
> company's product at a previous position, so I have some familiarity with
> it. But self-doubt begins to creep in as the interview approaches,
> especially since it's scheduled to last 4 hours and includes a technical VP
> and I feel that my technical skills are my weakest attribute (shamefully, I
> don't know any programming languages).
>
> Does anyone have advice for how to endure such a long interview? What kind
> of questions should I be prepared for, especially from the VP and the SE
> that will be interviewing me?
>
> The company's product makes heavy use of both regular expressions and APIs.
> There were recently a couple of threads about good API documentation that
> are good resources. But how about regular expressions? Any suggestions for
> reading up on those?
>
> I am just starting out in this field: if I get this job, it would be only
> my third position as a technical writer, so please excuse these rather
> nervous and fundamental questions. Any other advice, of course, would also
> be greatly appreciated.
>
> Thank you.
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