Re: Interview questions (long)

Subject: Re: Interview questions (long)
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 21 Feb 1997 11:21:59 -0800

I'll take the liberty of incorporating several responses into
a sigle post

>On Thu, 20 Feb 1997 13:26:50 -0800 "Susan W. Gallagher"
><sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM> writes:
>>>PS My sister-in-law's favourite response to the question in question
>>is one I
>>>have not heard on this list yet [I think]: "On the other side of the
>>table."
(no, that wasn't me, that was Sabahat)

Don Smith:
>This seems to imply that you must be a "highly aggressive" person who
>is "upward mobile", out to concore the world. Why? Does this mean that
>a Technical Writer who likes what he/she does and does not want to
>become management, go from job to job or considers money as the only
>career goal, as someone inferior.
>

No, I'm not always looking for someone to take over my job, just
someone who's thought about the future. I *may* in fact totally
dismiss you if I think you won't be happy without management
responsibilities and I don't have any to offer.

d r asks:

>What I would like to ask though is what if you are dropping those resumes
>away and find that none in the pile are good. Do you place an ad in a
>different publication or do you take a second look at what you have in
>front of you and call some of those people in. If it's the latter, has it
>ever worked out for the better ever?

Occasionally I get exasperated and dig thru the castoffs again. Even
call one or two in for an interview. It only reinforces my resolve
to stick with my original game plan.

d r again:

>I come to see you. You like me. You like what I've done. I've impressed
>you. You ask me if I can start tomorrow. I say yes. I leave. Do you check
>my information? I am now about to start work for you. Do you see if I
>really worked at the jobs I have down on my resume? And if so, and you
>find out that I didn't work there - what do you do then?
>

At Expersoft, HR verifies degrees and checks with all the people that
the applicant has given as "official" references. They pass the written
references to me for review. No offers are made until the reference
checks come in and get reviewed.

Robert Plamondon asks:
>Do you really think that the mere fact of ponying up cash and time
>to the STC correlates with writing ability? Come on now -- I've
>seen the STC's journals.

No, it doesn't correlate with writing ability. It correlates with
committment, motivation, and dedication to the profession.


Robert again:
>So I think you throw baby out with the bathwater if you apply the
>"ain't gonna have no errors" rule too harshly, and toss out anything
>with random typos or errors of construction.

Yup, I've probably discarded a lot of babys with that torrent of dirty
bathwater. However, as unfair as it may seem, it's the method I use to
get the highest number of aceptable candidates in the shortest amount
of time.

We don't have the budget for a dedicated editor on staff. You'll have
to find your own mistakes or persuade a colleague to find them for you,
so you might as well start with your resume.

Robert yet again:
Susan Gallagher rhapsodizes:
[snip]

If going to STC meetings and paying dues speaks volumes, my Chamber
of Commerce membership must be speaking whole libraries! And here
I thought it was mostly about lunch and client leads.

Rhapsodizes????? Me????? ;-) <blush>

Your C of C membership speaks volumes about your business savvy.
It says nothing about your dedication to the profession of technical
writing.

Tom Tomasovic:
>As I was reading this (following the thread), I realized that one of the big
>things I get from TECHWR-L (and other lists) is a sense of the people who are
>posting. I have seen several who would (or would not) be most welcome to apply
>if I were looking for people. IMHO, being an active part of a list like this
>qualifies as being a "joiner".
>
Most definitely! AAMOF, when I know I have a position coming open, I'll
frequently contact techwr-l list members offline to ask them if they'd
like to apply. I feel just as comfortable about the professionals I know
online as I do with those that I know F2F at STC meetings.

The bottom line is that I, as a hiring manager, must decide on the best
qualities to look for in a prospective employee and the best and most
efficient ways to locate a person with those qualities. Making a hiring
decision is really difficult. I have two or three pieces of paper and
perhaps an hour of personal contact to work with. From the information
I can gather within those limits, I must decide on someone that I will
spend a whole lot of time with and that I will depend upon to help me
produce a product and get it out the door.

For me, personally, I have devised a whole lot of rules/tricks/techniques
that I use to qualify candidates. Some of them are decidedly unfair; and
I freely admit that. I don't have the time to interview everyone on the
off chance that you who do not use the possessive with a gerund are
really the one person I'm looking for. Aside from my dedication to my
profession and my company, I also have a family and a personal life --
and choosing the "right" employee will allow me the time to persue my
personal interests.

If I fail, if I choose the wrong person, I have to live with that failure
for an awfully long time -- long enough to train/counsel that person into
appropriate behavior (and carry the rest of the team in the meantime), or
long enough to document my failure sufficiently so that I can fire the
person. Imagine how I would feel if I had to go to my manager with the
news that I'd made a mistake and that after six months and 20 interviews,
I had to throw it all away and start over again.

Sorry I've rambled on for so long. I'll stop now! ;-)


Susan W. Gallagher Manager, Technical Publications
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com Expersoft Corporation, San Diego CA
http://www.expersoft.com

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