TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Interview question From:d r <writeagain -at- JUNO -dot- COM> Date:Fri, 21 Feb 1997 16:48:49 EST
Actually I was asked what my biggest strength was. It is almost as if
these two questions meet in the middle. You don't really want to start
talking yourself down in front of your potential employer and on the
other hand, you don't want to pick yourself up too far that the employee
may feel threathened by you.
One time in a very creative literature course in college, the professor
brought in an independent researcher who gave us an attitude test to see
how quick we were at being creative. I recall only one question. We were
timed. Given 30 seconds to list as many inanimate objects as we could (50
minimum). The entire test was based upon speed and how quickly you could
come up with story lines, story ideas, etc. At the time I thought the
test was useless but fun. Each of us was assigned a number and when the
test results were in, the numbers were listed on the blackboard
Since the professor didn't have to tell his score (he took the test as
well), I thought that perhaps he had done himself a disservice by telling
his class that he ranked 3 in his own class. He said that "thinking
quickly" was never something he could do and was happy that his students
(2 of them) did better than he. SIX students dropped the class after he
made his announcement. They complained that a professor should know
better than to state his weakness to his students. He eventually got in
trouble for giving us the test and was suspended as a result.
That day he explained his reasons for telling us that he didn't rank #1.
He said that just because he teaches a certain subject doesn't mean that
there aren't people learning from him that are smarter in some areas than
he. He then asked the class (by a show of hands) who they thought ranked
#1. All picked the student who was holding an A+ in the class and all
Getting back to your question. I think that I would try to understand WHY
the employee was asking me that. I can't believe that he would want a
literal response like, "I can't spell". Personally, I'd probably say,
"Money. I need it to live so that's why I want this job. And have I told
you that I also have experience editing blah blah blah". So my way would
be to get around this question as simply and skillfully as possible in
the hope of bringing his/her attention back to where I can be given the
chance to express what I can do for him.
I just read a post from someone (was it Tom???) who said that he gets a
idea of people on this listserv and knows who he'd probably hire if he
needed to hire someone. Along with experience, personality plays a part
in this. You can get as objective as possible but still there is
something (some qualification) that will make you hire "John" when "Jim"
has had the same experience.
writeagain -at- juno -dot- com
I nen Fri, 21 Feb 1997 11:53:56 -0400 Steven Warren
<Steven_Warren/USG -at- USGROUP -dot- COM> writes:
>When interviewing, how many of you came across this question:
>What is your biggest weakness and why?
>How have you tackled this question.
> TECHWR-L (Technical Communication) List Information: To send a
>to 2500+ readers, e-mail to TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU -dot- Send
> to LISTSERV -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU (e.g. HELP or SIGNOFF TECHWR-L).
> Search the archives at http://www.documentation.com/ or search and
>browse the archives at
> Send list questions or problems to the listowner at