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Subject:Re: The Interview from Hell! From:Ivan Gelicall <ivan_gelicall -at- HOTBOT -dot- COM> Date:Fri, 28 May 1999 10:26:24 -0700
What you are about to read is true I swear it!
After being screened on the phone by human resources, I was invited in for an interview. The human resources dude let it slip that they had very few responses to the add they had Placed for a technical writer (alarm bells should have wrung then). I thought cool I don t have any competition.
He placed me in a large meeting room and said that the Director of Tech Pubs would be in shortly to meet with me. In the mean time I sat quietly and drank a cold glass of water.
He came in and introduced herself. As they say in America first impressions make or break you. He looked like a thirsty bulldog licking piss from a cactus and he had a permanent scowl across his face that would scare captain hook. But I thought don t judge this person they may have been working a wee bit too hard.
So, he sat down and started to tell me that he had 20 years experience and that he thought by having this much experience he was entitled to ask a series of questions that were designed to make me very uncomfortable. OK, I thought what the heck is this guy going to throw at me. Here s what he said.
I am going to give you four personality types to chose from, lets call them: dependent, independent, dreamer and aggressor. Each have their pluses and minuses such as, and then he started to explain (waffle on) about each personality type. Was I paying attention to what he was saying NO I was trying to remember the names he had assigned to these personality types.
So, Which one are you Ivan? Um I m dependent aggressor. A puzzled look came over his face. But he moved onto the next round. I m going to draw four shapes, tell me which one is you. My choices were a circle, a square, a triangle, and a squiggle line. I tried to inject some humor well I can t be a square because I m totally hip. That went over like a lead balloon. So, I said Triangle. This did not please him for I had picked the opposite shape from the personality types. What does this have to do with writing ability I wish I knew.
Then he proceeded to tell me that most Technical Writers have got documentation all wrong.
People who read/use manuals fall into three categories. Kinesthetic, Auditory, and Visual and all documentation should be geared to each of these individuals. In fact he had built a whole career around this theory and presented it to various groups all over the US. OK, not to be a skeptic, can I see some samples?
I may be as smart as Goober, but I m not as dumb as Bill Clinton. I couldn t make heads or tails of it. Pictures with one or two lines of text, lots of bubble diagrams, and other things that I really cant describe.
Then he set them aside and said The person I m looking for will be .. I said hire me and I ll help you look Again, it hit the ground in flames.
At that point he wrapped-up the interview and I thought phew I m glad that s over. However, the next day human resources calls me back to ask if I d come in and meet the other writers. Hmm, well my curiosity had the better of me. What were these other writers going to be like?
Both were great people, but had only been there a few months and had little experience in fact none at all.
So, I decided to see what they thought of their boss. Tell me what s XXX weaknesses and strengths?
Well, you could have heard a pin drop. They did there best to convey positive feelings but I thought they were uncomfortable with the question. And as for the weakness part, they gave weak answers.
I left feeling as if I had no real concrete picture of what it would be like other than that low sinking feeling you get when you relatives show up unannounced and you in the middle of sex.
The next day I received another call to come back in and talk with the director. OK, so what tricks do you have up your sleeve now?
I m going to give you a test to see how your skills really are. OK, I ve been to companies where they give you a sheet of paper and ask you to edit it, or they give you a screen shot and ask you to write some short instructions. No big deal I can handle that.
He called in one of his writers and he sat me down at a keyboard. Show me how you would apply a body tag, show me how you change the style, show me how you would mark words for the index.
OK, I have to admit it, he did stump me on one question, but I was tired and feeling a little out of sorts if you know what I mean?
When he had finished making me dance the Slip Jig, he took me back to the directors office.
He came in after a few minutes and said well, from what we can tell, you lack a lot of the skills we need, but I m willing to give you a chance, but be warned your going to have to work 12-hour days and maybe more at crunch times. Let me be clear I ride MY people hard and I expect nothing less than perfection.
You seem to be just a tad above a Junior writer therefore I m going to make you an offer based on what I think.
I was stunned and I felt gutted. I may not have ten years under my belt, but I m way above a junior writer. What was this fiend trying to pull? I looked at the offer letter and it said that I had two weeks to decide if I wanted the position. Praise be to Allah, I had some time to sort this out in my head.
I left and thought, if I m desperate then maybe, maybe I ll take it. And BTW, at this moment I m out of looking for work because I have a crummy job anyway. Therefore, I guess I could be a bit desperate.
Two days latter he called my job, when I had specifically said please do not call me at work. And left a message to say that he had made a typo and that the actual date was Today if I wanted the job.
Then he calls again and gets through to me. Hey Ivan its XXX can we talk? No I m kinda busy right now, I ll call you later. I told our secretary to pass all my calls to voicemail. He called me back 3 more times. I had to end this.
I got home and ran for the phone. Hello is this XXX, I m sorry but I have received another offer (lying like a dog) so I ll have to forgo your offer at this time. BOOM, you could hear the bombs going off he was totally pissed and I was relieved.